Religion’s traditional approach to bringing about change in the physical world has focused on prayer, incantations, sacrifices, offerings, spells, curses, and appeals to the gods. Compared to the advances brought about through science, religion is no match for the scientific method. To illustrate this – and to generate some discussion – I show my students the below image of children with polio. As we all know, through scientific research polio has been eradicated, and millions of children now have a chance to run and play and enjoy life. Thank you science!
Recently, a student responded to the above image by saying “that’s mean.” “Mean to whom?” I asked. “It’s mean to religion,” she replied. What followed was a great discussion about the role of science and religion. I made it very clear to the kids that religion is NOT useless. Religion can inspire hope and courage in situations that science clearly cannot. But if you are looking to cure cancer or build a colony on Mars, ancient holy books and religion will not tell you how; religion and science serve radically different purposes, a point I try to make very clear in both my religion class and Advance Placement United States History class.
So…is this image “mean” or disrespectful to religion? Should I not use it in my classroom? Just wondering.