FASTLY - Faith & Science Teaching

Part 3: Big Questions


1. Questions

Can We Trust Science?

The goal of this topic is for students to explore science as a good but also limited and imperfect way of knowing things.

You might begin by asking students to journal silently on the following question:

  • Should we trust science?

It might be helpful to prompt students to unpack their reasoning and not simply take a side.

Once they have had time to thoughtfully complete their journaling, raise the question for an initial class discussion. Instead of framing this discussion as a two-sided debate, you might ask:

  • What grounds might there be for placing trust in science?
  • What grounds might there be for qualifying our trust in science?

Keeping the discussion exploratory encourages the emergence of a complex picture. For further guidance, you can review the discussion guide.

Finally, display the article “Why we can’t trust academic journals to tell the scientific truth”.

You might suggest to students that they focus on the title of the article and ask them:

  • How is it different from the question they just discussed?
  • Does it offer a better question?

At this point, have students read the article carefully. Give them the link to the article and ask them to check the linked sources in the article that support its claims. Help students see the irony of using a quick reading to decide on an article about the trustworthiness of scientific publications.

Invite your students to go as far they can to verify that the article has used its sources accurately. In particular, they should focus on identifying exactly what the article says—and does not say— about the trustworthiness of scientific sources and the specific problems identified.

If there is not enough class time to complete this activity, students may continue this as homework. Let them know that there will be a discussion on this in the next class session and that they are encouraged to be well prepared.

Download all files for this topic

Next Topic:
Can We Trust Scientific Journals?