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Science, Religion and Ethics

Hi there, if you're aged between 11 and 18, this space is for you to explore your big questions about science and religious faith.

Use the menu on the left to choose your age range, then click on a question below to read some thoughts about God, ethics, and ideas about right and wrong. You can also click on ‘Scientists’ to meet some scientists of faith who study this topic!

If you are younger than 11 you can explore these same questions on our kids website, here

  • What is ethics?

  • What makes me me?

  • Can science tell us what's right and wrong?

  • Scientists

  • More Questions?

  • What is ethics?

    Ethics is a branch of study which involves thinking and talking about what choices and ways of behaving are right or wrong.

    It can be important for us to apply ethical principles to how we live our lives, how we treat people, or how we do our jobs. Thinking about ethics can help us make good choices which protect and love all people, all living things, and the amazing world in which we live. For example, through scientific research we can discover all kinds of incredible things about the way the world works. But how we decide to use this new knowledge is important. A new discovery can often be used in different ways, either bringing help or harm to people or the planet. While science can tell us what the consequences of an action might be, it doesn’t actually decide whether an action is right or wrong. We need something else for that, and that’s one point where ethics comes in.

    To get permission for certain types of scientific research, particularly medical or human research studies, scientists must present their plan to an ethics committee. The committee make sure the research is legal, necessary, that the relative costs and benefits have been fully thought through, and that it is allowable based on set ethical principles.

    For lots of us, the way we think about ethics is connected to how we think about God and who God is.

    We’ll be adding more exciting questions on this topic, so keep checking this page!

  • What makes me me?

    Lots of things add up to shape us into who we are.

    DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is a special molecule that contains the genetic instructions that help our bodies and brains to develop and work in particular ways. Our DNA is a mixture of our biological mother and father’s DNA, but it is also unique to us. Our unique genetic instructions shape part of who we are. But our experiences in life, and even as we grow inside our mothers, can shape the way our brains and bodies develop too.

    We can also learn new things and choose to use that information to change things about who we are, what we think, feel and believe, and how we behave. Scientific studies have shown that at least certain parts of the brain can continually change, as we form habits and practice behaviours, making and breaking connections between different brain cells.

    The Bible (the holy book that Christians read) also talks about people being able to change to become more and more like Jesus as they seek to follow his example. That doesn’t mean that they would all become identical clones of Jesus. Christians believe it means that, when someone puts their trust and confidence in Jesus, they can become more and more the unique and wonderful person God intended for them to be - the best version of themselves.

    So, lots of things make you ‘you’, from your DNA and life experiences, to your beliefs and the choices you make.

  • Can science tell us what's right and wrong?

    Science doesn’t actually tell us what is right or wrong.

    It’s very good at explaining how things work, the mechanisms or processes behind the physical things we can observe in the world around us. It’s also very good at helping us to predict what the consequences might be of any one action or choice we make. For example, what we know from the chemistry of fossil fuels, and the physics and engineering of cars, can help us predict that using a car, when we could walk instead, will mean that more carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere. Science also suggests this will add to the rate of climate change, which we have learned will go on to have all sorts of environmental, social and money-related impacts on people and the planet. However, what science doesn’t tell us, is whether these things are good or bad, or whether it’s ok to let these things happen to other people and the planet. If you’re interested in reading more about these environmental topics, head over to our section on the environment.

    It might seem obvious that doing something that could hurt others isn’t the right thing to do, but that idea comes from ethics and the ethical discussions that people have been having for thousands of years about right and wrong. These ethical discussions about right and wrong are often shaped by the religious faiths and worldviews that different people hold.

    Science can add some information to the discussion, but we need more than science to work out whether we think something is right or wrong.

  • BS

    Bob Sluka


    Bob White


    Francis Collins


    Emily Burdett


    Gillian Straine


    John Bryant


    John Wyatt


    Katharine Hayhoe


    Roger Abbott


    Roger Bretherton


    Rosalind Picard


    Tom Ingleby

  • More Questions?

    ​​Do you have questions which aren't covered here? We want to help!

    Take a look at some of our other topics, activities and resources to see what else you can discover. 

    Or why not get in touch and we'll do our best to help you out!