Life Science

Evolution vs. Religion

I am working on lesson plans for a middle school science unit on evolution. How do I tackle the idea of religion versus scientific evolution if it comes up in class? Should I bring it up to get in front of the topic to control the conversation? Any suggestions or help anyone could offer would be great. Thanks in advance!

Dan Jurgensen
Dan Jurgensen
520 Activity Points

Hi Dan -

That is a terrific question, and I'm sure you will get many helpful responses.

Here are a few resources on teaching evolution:

NSTA Tool Kit on Teaching Evolution

PBS Evolution

There are several short videoclips to show students at the PBS Evolution site

For example, one of the videoclips is titled, Why is Evolution Controversial Anyway?

In my own teaching practice, I view evolution as a critical component of high school biology instruction and spend an entire course unit focusing on evolution (about one month) and then continue to weave evolution as a central them throughout the course.

I frame the topic of evolution with an opening discussion of the Scientific Perspective and discuss the importance of Scientific Theories.

I explain that we will be viewing evolutionary theory from a scientific perspective and encourage them to talk to their families and religious advisors if they have religious questions.

Just one teacher's approach, I'm sure you'll hear many more creative ideas.


Dorothy Ginnett
Dorothy Ginnett
28175 Activity Points


I want to piggyback on Dorothy's comments and share a website I have used. Evolution and the Natural Sciences Institute (ENSI) based out of Indiana University has a myriad of wonderful lessons designed for both middle school and high school students. It is searchable by keyword so you can find what you need.

What are others using?

Ruth Hutson
Ruth Hutson
62750 Activity Points

Howard Hughes Medical Institute has an amazing website with bunches of resources for evolution. They have great videos and activities that can be used to help illustrate the various topics of evolution.

There's another great website done by Berkeley University of California. It's called Understanding Evolution and it has great lesson plans for all different ages.

I used both of these websites quite a bit during my evolution unit.

Samantha McCubbins
Samantha Johnson
895 Activity Points

Wow, that is a very touchy subject! I struggled with that a little bit, but one thing I learned is that if the students are talking about "religion," it's okay to keep the conversation going as long as you're not trying to influence the students one way or another. So one of the things I did was if I were to do a PowerPoint, I would bring up both sides of the story without using the word religion/culture. So instead of saying " a certain religious group believes that the Earth is about 6000 years old," you could just say "at this age and time, people thought the Earth was 6000 years old due to the lack of scientific technology." A lesson that you might be able to do is to have the students do a debate. In most of my classes, many students brought up their religion saying that they don't believe in it because of it. Later on, it turned into a debate naturally. So having a debate lesson might be good.

Osamu Ono
Osamu Ono
220 Activity Points

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