Science and faith – can they coexist in the same space? In our present Covid-era world, it seems that the two belief systems might forever remain in conflict.
St. Bonaventure Catholic School science teacher Sarah McGuire thinks otherwise and is tackling this topic head on with her seventh and eighth graders by utilizing Credible Catholic (crediblecatholic.com), a curriculum developed by Fr. Robert Spitzer that guides students through the many intersections of science and faith.
“It hit me that this is the age where kids really start developing their own identity in terms of what they believe in,” says McGuire. “They start to step into that position where they take their faith on as their own. This is actually the time the questions are happening.”
In her second year at St. Bonaventure, McGuire has taken her passion for science and these big existential questions by using Credible Catholic to walk the middle schoolers through topics such as the Big Bang Theory, the concept of heaven, the Shroud of Turin and modern medical miracles, all while tying the content into standard science curriculum.
“The beautiful thing about science is that it stems from curiosity and wonder about why things are the way they are,” says McGuire. “We can partner scientific inquiry, faith reflection and meditation to understand more about God and the creation that he made.”
The Credible Catholic curriculum provides PowerPoint lectures for each module, along with discussion-based questions that the students review in smaller groups – all for free to participating schools. McGuire supplements the learning by having the students watch supporting documentaries and complete research projects on those people of faith who have contributed to the scientific field.
St. Bonaventure eighth graders Diego Uribe and Marin Holman both feel they have not only learned plenty about science through the Credible Catholic lessons, but have also grown in their faith.
“I feel like when you first look at science and faith, it’s like these don’t go well together,” says Holman. “But after the Credible Catholic units, that perspective changed for me.”
During each module, McGuire has the students practice debating each side of the subject matter, which in turn is giving them the tools to confidently defend their faith.
“It united [our] whole classroom…and we were able to use the information
we were presented [to] discuss with each other what we think, prove or disprove,” says Holman. “It was a really fun experience.”
“Science and faith always used to be very confusing,” added Uribe. “I believe that Credible Catholic has answered a bunch of my questions.”
As someone who went through her own skeptical phase around the ideas science and faith, McGuire has found the use of the Credible Catholic curriculum to be in a format that is easy for the students to follow and presented in a way that relates to today’s modern world. The St. Bonaventure middle school parents have been receptive as well and are supporting their students in their faith formation.
“My goal for my students is that when they leave my classroom and move forward…and when they have those moments of doubt, they can come back to those things and that can push them forward in their faith journey,” says McGuire. “Not everyone is going to become a geologist or an engineer or an astronaut, but everyone has the opportunity to have a deep relationship with Christ and an appreciation of the natural world around us.”