SRSP 16-19 Topic 1 Unit 1c – What is an explanation?


A key issue in the relationship between Science and Religion hinges on the question of different types of explanation. Scientific explanations are different from religious ones because they are setting out to answer different questions. Rather than being contradictory they can be viewed as complementary. In order to understand this, it is important to examine how scientists arrive at conclusions and how they set about providing answers to the questions they are asking. Causal and top-down explanations are both different forms of explanations used by scientists.

The ability to distinguish between induction and deduction is important, not only in science but also in other areas of life. Circular arguments need to be spotted if they occur in science, religion or philosophy. This will help students to develop valid reasoning and debating skills.

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


Key Questions

  • What are the ingredients of a sound argument?
  • Is it possible to know when scientists are presenting us with facts rather than theories?
  • What are some of the dangers and benefits of reductionism in everyday life?
  • Are scientific and religious explanations of equal importance?

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Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: What is an argument? (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 1: What is an argument? (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 1[LA]: What is an argument? [LA] (Word)

Teacher Resource Sheet 6: Teacher’s Notes (Word)


Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: Thinking about science (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 2: Thinking about science (Word)

Teacher Resource Sheet 6: Teacher’s Notes (Word)


Lesson 3

Lesson Plan: The Naïve view of science (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 3: The Naïve view of science (Word)


Lesson 4

Lesson Plan: Reductionism (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 4: The secret of my success (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 4[LA]: The secret of my success [LA] (Word)


Lesson 5

Lesson Plan (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 5: What oh why? (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 5[LA]: What oh why? [LA] (Word)

© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)