Being Human: How Do Students View Science and Religion? With Berry Billingsley (video)

By Templeton Staff
July 26, 2021
How can we teach students about the big questions of the universe?

“I was a teacher that wanted to have those big question discussions with the children,” shares Professor Berry Billingsley, director of the Learning about Science and Religion (LASAR) Centre at Canterbury Christ Church University in the United Kingdom. “But creating the space to make it happen in a schoolroom is incredibly difficult.”

Interviews with students in England revealed that they want to ask big questions about human significance, and free will, and how science and religion interact. But many also said that they held back, feeling that teachers would see these questions as off-topic or too sensitive.

Researchers are studying how students and teachers can make the connections between science, religion, and other disciplines.

Highlights from this installment of our award-winning “Stories of Impact” video series:

  • Advancements in robotics have led some children, when interacting with machines, to question what it means to be human. Are we not more than a combination of predictable patterns?
  • There is a lot of excitement for learners when areas of study overlap. These different perspectives that can find common ground are the framework for making new discoveries.
  • “In science we collectively observe. We look at natural phenomena, we look at something we can all see and we try to explain what we can see. If we write it up, other people ought to be able to see the same thing. When you think about the sorts of questions that you’re asking in religion, they’re really not often those sorts of questions.” Prof. Billingsley believes the first stage of recognizing these big questions in the classroom is to help teachers and educators, policymakers see what is missing by not having a multidisciplinary approach.

Learn more about TWCF-funded research project related to this episode.

Read the transcript from the full interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay featuring: Berry Billingsley, professor of science education and director of the LASAR Centre at Canterbury Christ Church University.


Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” videos by journalist and senior media executive Richard Sergay feature human stories and critical perspectives on breakthroughs about the universe’s big questions. The inspiring narratives and observations in these award-winning videos portray the individual and societal impacts of the projects that bring to life TWCF-supported research.

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