SRSP 16-19 Topic 3 Unit 1a – The late 18th and early 19th centuries


The main focus of this topic is the period and concept of the Enlightenment: the Age of Reason. Although the term ‘Enlightenment’ might be familiar to some students of History and/or Buddhism, the intellectual scene of the 18th to 19th century will be a new experience for the majority. Possible pre-conceived ideas and assumptions about our intellectual past will be explored, hopefully ‘enlightening’ the students. The following aspects characterise this period:

The Clockwork Universe, A static world view and Natural Theology.

Joseph Priestley, John Wesley and Michael Faraday. Under this heading, various responses to the relation between religion and science will be explored. Some of the main issues of today have their roots in this period: traditionalism and fundamentalism on the one hand and a dynamic and more inclusive world view on the other hand.

David Hume and the question of miracles. This part is about the implications and consequences of a mechanistic view of the universe.

The main point of this unit is to understand that present day ideas about Religion and Science have their roots in the soil of our past and also that what we produce today will have an impact on tomorrow’s world.

This unit consists of 5 lessons and is suitable for students aged from 16 to 19 years


Key Questions

  • What is meant by the Enlightenment?
  • What are the key ideas to come from the Enlightenment?
  • How do these impact on the relationship between Science and Religion today?
  • Who were the main people who expressed some of these ideas?
  • Why did so many of these ideas cause conflict between religion and science?

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Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: The Age of Reason: Enlightenment (Word)

Student Resource 1: The Age of Reason: Enlightenment (Word)

Student Resource 1[LA]: The Age of Reason: Enlightenment (Word)


Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: The Clockwork Universe (Word)

Student Resource 2: The Static World View (Word)

Student Resource 2[LA]: The Static World View (Word)


Lesson 3

Lesson Plan: Miracles (Word)

Student Resource 3: From Miracles to Mechanism (Word)

Student Resource 3[LA]: From Miracles to Mechanism (Word)

Student Resource 4: Hume’s Critique of Miracles (Word)

Student Resource 4[LA]: Hume’s Critique of Miracles (Word)


Lessons 4 and 5

Lesson Plan: The responses of Priestly, Wesley and Faraday (Word)

Student Resource 5: Jospeh Priestley (Word)

Student Resource 5[LA]: Jospeh Priestley (Word)

Student Resource 6: Michael Faraday (Word)

Student Resource 6[LA]: Michael Faraday (Word)

Student Resource 7: John Wesley (Word)

Student Resource 7[LA]: John Wesley (Word)

Student Resource 8: From Revelation to Reason (Word)

Student Resource 8[LA]: From Revelation to Reason (Word)

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