A2 homework: Applying material from Item B and your knowledge, evaluate the view that religion and science be seen as different varieties of belief system

Item B

Ziaduddin Sardar’s view is that although human knowledge at times converges with the Qur’an, the text should certainly not be treated as a scientific encyclopaedia. In support of this view, Sardar lamented the emergence of the I’jaz movement, which insists the Qur’an contains descriptions of modern scientific phenomena ranging from quantum mechanics to accurate descriptions of the stages of embryology and geology. In Sardar’s opinion, this stems from insecurity and a personal need to vindicate Islam to others.

Jim Al-Khalili contends that science could be regarded as a form of ideology, he argues science is substantiated through the mechanisms of experimentation and reproducibility rather than relying on “blind faith”. Whilst individual scientists may carry personal bias, dogma or have vested interests, the process of science itself is self-correcting. He admitted this isn’t always the case when it comes to daily practice. For example, string theory is still a mathematical game rather than a bona fide theory as we don’t yet have a testable way to verify it. In his opinion, we should keep searching for answers – it is intellectually lazy to not investigate further.

 Applying material from Item B and your knowledge, evaluate the view that religion and science be seen as different varieties of belief system?

(20 marks – 30 minutes)


Define belief system.

Set up the argument – some such as Dawkins view them as radically different, others such as Polanyi acknowledge significant differences but also some similarities, others such as Giddens argue that many members of the public have rejected both…

Part one: religion as a belief system

Compare the belief systems of different religious groups such as Islam, Church of England; fundamentalist groups such as Isis or the Amish; new religious movements such as Scientology – how open are they to questioning? What happens if people try to leave these religions? What happens if people ‘blaspheme’ (offend religion).

Give examples of how critics of religion such as Richard Dawkins view religion.

Item B

Part two: science as a belief system

Completely different – Karl Popper, Robert Merton, Richard Dawkins, Comte etc. The effect of the enlightenment period

Some similarities – Kuhn, Polanyi, Lynch, Item B

Part three: beyond science and religion




Can religion and science be considered similar belief systems? Are some religions more open than others?

Why religious belief systems are still relevant today (why haven’t Comte’s predictions been proven completely correct?)

Will people continue to need belief systems provided by institutions or will we largely pick and mix and have more individual belief systems? Or will become Nihlists?