First Dates Ireland

This is my first blog in a couple of months and my first attempt to maintain blogs for resources. Possibly I aim to do one a least one a week and I wanted to write this one as soon as possible as the idea only came to me on the 10th September.

I was attending mass and today’s gospel was the Parable of the Prodigal son from the book of Luke. The priest followed with the homily commenting that the Prodigal Son is one of the most difficult parables to appreciate as it shows the father praising the return of the son who appeared greedy and irresponsible whiles the hard working son was not accredited for his hard work. The moral of the story is that God loves us no matter what we do in the past. This story does not appear to all for that reason and there can be many examples that can be found in modern day to day lives.

The priest in the homily acknowledged how the story also focuses on the persons redemption and to turn away from our bad past is worth a celebration and worthy of recognition, as in in the words of Oscar Wilde; every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

The priest also related the story to an episode of First Dates Ireland that he recently watched ( a very trendy and up to date priest altogether). Anyway he discussed an episode where two people meet and click fairly well on their date. However it is noted by the girl that the man is not drinking, when the girl questions him on this, he admits he is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. They discussed the matter for a while and even though they got along very well the woman decided not to meet the man again because of his past. This simply raises an ethical questions was the woman right? Her reasons were certainly justified. However her choice certainly places the man in a difficult position in that he is being reminded of his past and not feeling rewarded for overcoming his problems.

The episode, if can be found, is a great resource for the topic of social development and ethical choices. Teenagers may easily encounter similar problems, but it raises social and political questions.

Above is the link illustrating what happened on the date and the twitter reactions. The resource is effective for a mature discussion methodology lesson.


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Age of Exploration

This is a series of definitions for the navigation for the Age of Exploration section.

Mr. Courtney                                                                                                                                                   4/9/2014

Age of Exploration

Advances in Travel

  • Maps
  • At the beginning of the fifteenth century, cartographers (people who drew maps) produced more detailed maps of Europe and the known world.
  • The Portuguese used maps called portolan (which means harbour finding) maps which were very detailed about the coastline.
  • Navigation
  • Sailors used compasses to show the direction in which they were sailing.
  • Sailors began to work out their latitude (their distance north or south of the equator) using instruments called quadrants and astrolabes. Both instruments measured the height of the sun or the north star above the horizon.
  • The speed of a ship was measured using the log and line. A sailor threw a piece of wood (log) into the sea from the back of the boat. This was attached to a reel of knotted rope (line). The amount of rope that was pulled by the wood in one minute was then measured.
  • Life on the ship
  • Life at sea was tough. Ships could end up hundreds of miles off course, especially in seas that had never been mapped. Shipwrecks due to storms or crashing into rocks were common. Biscuits called hardtack were commonly eaten. Other food sailors ate included cheese, onions, dried beans, and salted fish or recently caught fish.
  • This poor diet meant that the crews regularly suffered from diseases such as typhoid (from bad water) and scurvy (from a lack of vitamin C).
  • Sailors often found themselves attacked by hostile natives.

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Drugs and Alcohol. SPHE / RE topics

A very important aspect to education is warning signs for the variety of drugs available to the genera public and allow them to understand the key distinctions between the different types and overall understand that a drug is simply any substance other than food which changes the way the body or mind functions.

Recently I started the module with my third years about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol irresponsibly. So far the students have co-operated well with the module and have asked a lot of questions contributed greatly to the lessons. I found that there was a colossal amount of resources on this topic so it made lesson planning very easy in comparison to some other social topics.

One Power point I  found was on the various drugs types and the category each one falls under. However, as I always say, a PowerPoint is only as good as the teacher who is using it. To begin the series of lesson,s start with the lesson of what is a drug?


Secondly, inform them of what qualifies as a drug, e.g. caffeine, and what it is categorized under;

Carry on the lesson appropriately that suits you class understanding and ability. Have the pupils read from slides and incorporate higher and lower order questions and using a variety of methodologies that permits students participation and discussion.

The various PowerPoint and worksheets on resources websites like, are so effective and once examined properly they can be incorporated into the lesson effectively. Drugs and alcohol is of course an important and arguably difficult topic to teach especially since the frequent things that adolescents are exposed to in modern society. So like many social topics, you have to teach it from an outside perspective, not judging those who have or have not taken any form of drug that effect their body whether it is for medical or recreational purposes and of course making no presumptions or putting any pressure on students in the class. A ‘Say no to drugs’ rant maybe very irrational, but instead ensure it is an illustration of their effects and how the consequences can be dangerous. Know the difference between informing and lecturing.

In addition to the PowerPoint, there is a documentary you can show parts of at the end of each lesson that is perfectly divided to allow you to show different parts on different lessons. The documentary : What drugs do in your body,  illustrates what several different drugs effects drugs have on the body and the mind. The documentary is just over 40 minutes but shows how intoxicated people react to the different everyday and emergency situations under the influence of narcotics. If you divide the video to 3 lessons based on the 3 scenarios that take place in the video.The documentary is engaging in many ways as it shows how people react to under the influence and while they are sober. The idea is not to put a shock value for the pupils but to provide them with the heads up as to what is out there and whats ahead of them.

Assessment can be tricky with this section. The topic is an important but not a mandatory lesson for the Junior or Leaving certificate. This is ideal, as the lessons should not require a need for examination. However, if in an exam subject it still has its benefits, for religious education it can be used to illustrate the choices in morality and ideally can used as an example of respecting yourself and moral codes. For S.P.H.E. its very relevant for obvious reasons, drugs are very relative to peer pressure, a common issue for teens. It is also appropriate for seniors under social ed or non-exam RE as maturity is important. Avoid the topic with first years and second years as instead the maturity of the topic requires the pupils to be more aware about the world and themselves.

The topic can cross over with science and P.E. for effects of drugs on the body and even C.S.P.E. with importance of raising awareness of the dangerous impact abusing drugs can have on both the users and those around them. It is an important topic to inform the pupils on this area and although not a polite area to teach, holds a lot of necessity for their social and mental development throughout their school days. Most importantly from, it appropriately incorporates the key skills of the NCCA. Communication through class discussion, managing information through breaking down the types of drugs, critical thinking for the striking factors that are raised, working with others for pair discussion etc.

Its an important and mature topic, Don’t be afraid to answer controversial questions or listen to students inputs. However, for any inappropriate comments from students you may have, promote a disclaimer prior to beginning the lessons. Inform the pupils that their opinions can be respected as long as they are appropriate and do not offend any other pupil in the classroom. If pupils do not co-operate maybe disallow them from contributing in discussions. You do not know what issues students sitting in front have that may relate to drink or drugs. Again don’t let this put you off, but ensure respect is maintained from your part too. Remind the students that if they feel uncomfortable in any shape or form about the class they are welcome to address it privately afterwards, and in case you are worried the students are too shy to say talk about their concern, the post it method for class reflection works wonders. It can provide yourself with a decent reflection on how the lesson went and realize if there is any concerns from the students.


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Teaching Reflection tasks

Encouraging students to reflect on their experiences throughout second level. this is important for a variety of reasons. Reflecting on work they have done ( with a checklist) allows them to realise how much content they have covered since beginning.

the checklist can be done at the end of each term and is a good way to show students they have finished another chapter in their school.

Reflecting through meditation. Bringing the students to a retreat location such as an oratory or even just swapping chairs around in the classroom. Give a spoken meditation  after settling the students and getting their ‘zen’ on, have them think about how far they have come since they began in education and even how far they have come socially. Reminding them about new and old friends and the new relationships they have or haven’t started had in their current lives. Meditation is a great and relaxing lesson for the class.

Journal work. Having the students keep their own reflecting journal is not an easy task to encourage the pupils to do. There is a necessity that we appreciate their privacy here but if we were to provide the pupils with a series of questions about what they have achieved and have them keep it on a word document so it it is electronically saved for them (possibly a great blog if your class are involved with some of the great blogging websites).

Overall reflection is a vital aspect of social and personal development that can help them overcome stress and understand how to amend their previous mistakes.

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Motte and Bailey Lesson Layout

Why did William build Castles?


Task 1:


Label your Motte and Bailey Castle:


  • Drawbridge
  • Tower
  • Motte
  • Bailey
  • Palisade Wall
  • Moat
















Features of the motte and bailey castles Function of the motte and bailey castles

Describe the key features and how you think each of the features would be good for defence














Task 3:


How effective was the motte and bailey castle?


Think about the strengths and weakness of the motte and bailey castle:


  • The defensive strengths of the motte and bailey were…


  • The defensive weaknesses of the motte and bailey were…


  • The motte and bailey castle helped William to control England because…





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Media Watch Project

A few months ago I posted my undergraduate research paper. I was about how the bible and science are not at conflict and how people somethings view the ideas of Charles Darwin.

Fro my globalisation module of religion in society we were required to examine a theme from the media and write about it. I decided to follow on from my undergrad research paper and with the same theme.

Media Watch Introduction

Over the past few years, I have followed in the controversies and counter responses between Ultra-Darwinists and creationists. The debates and arguments have provoked heated exchanges and theories. I intend to explore some of these alternate views throughout this paper along with the original theories published by Charles Darwin. I think it is first important to state that it is not my intention to prove or disprove the truths surrounding the existence of God. I hope to follow the news stories in relation to these topics.

Before we can even look at these responses, we should first examine the history and work of Charles Darwin and his work from his book On the Origins of Species. My first chapter will consist of information regarding the work of Charles Darwin and his accomplishments. From my research on Darwin, I intend to examine how his work has affected society and the various responses, both positive and negative that he did and still does receive. Darwin did not publish his work the intention of offending; ‘I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious views of anyone.’[1]

What does one think when they hear the term creationist? According to the Oxford English Dictionary; Creationism is a belief that life originates from specific acts of divine creation. The most common aspect of these beliefs is that the Theory of Evolution is not compatible with Christianity; therefore a belief in Evolution means Atheism and furthermore, that the Bible is the only origin story to explain life on earth. For some, this implies a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis; the earth was created in six days and is only 6,000 years old. There are various reasons for this. Many out-spoken creationists such, as Ken Ham and members of the Young Earth Institute for Creationist Research, have lectured frequently around the world on this very topic issuing some controversial statements regarding the bible in relation to the origins of the universe. ‘No apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.’[2] For them the theory of evolution is irrelevant as the bible contains the only explanation for life on earth. Therefore, I will also be covering the reports on creationist views.

The media portrayal of religious belief has been stereotyped to a creationist perspective as a result of both the likes of Dawkins and Ken Ham. Although both men hold opposing viewpoints, their crusade against one another has led to many heated and ludicrous debates. Their regular appearance in the media almost provides a tainted view of religion. For the approach of this assignment I decided to stick to the theme of Creationists and Ultra-Darwinists commenting on public and political affairs and ultimately examine how they interact through media outlets. The first theme I am examining is the how scientific and religious speakers examine politics, more specifically, their reaction to Ben Carson as a creationist.

Theme 1: Ultra-Darwinism and Creationism with Politics.

23rd October: Ken Ham calls Richard Dawkins for Criticising Creationist Candidates:

One strong reason I decided to follow both creationists as well as Dawkins for this media watch is the focus that 2016 American Presidential candidate Ben Carson receives for his creationist belief from the media, especially the Ultra-Darwinist spokesman Richard Dawkins. For this week I decided to examine the Ultra –Darwinist and Creationists tackling the presidential candidate Ben Carson.

The rivalry between these two reminds of a cartoon rivalry between the Tom and Jerry. Both men make blatant jabs and accusations at their opposing views respectively and these two articles show such.

Ken Ham is defending the GOP presidential candidates against Dawkins. Dawkins mentioned that the GOP’s are disgraceful because of their creationist views. He makes this presumption about all of them and Ham responds as expected. Dawkins had previously refused to get into a debate with a young Earth Creationist because of their controversial views on how the universe started. ‘The fact that one of the two major political parties, every single candidate except one says they don’t believe in evolution, they don’t even believe in the fundamental principle of biology, which is a fact.’[3] The creationist views are common among the American community and many people especially around the Texas states have been known for strong support of the idea that the Earth is only about 6000 years old; Young Earth Creationists.

This article illustrates how both creationist and Ultra-Darwinists show contempt for each other and are at a war of words. “They know God exists — the evidence is within them and all around them. But because of their sin nature, they don’t want God. They are at war with God,” He said at the time of atheists like Dawkins.’[4] Once again a main criticism I have of Dawkins is his presumption that all members of one group maintain the same beliefs. His controversial statements in the past such as ‘science flies people to the moon, religion flies people into buildings,’ disrespect the beliefs and ideals of what people do and think, presuming that all religions are in favour of terrorism. Dawkins is known for using his theories to target politicians.

16/10/15 Atheist Richard Dawkins Calls It ‘Disgraceful’ That Presidential Hopefuls Are Creationists — and Reveals Which Religion Has ‘Maximum Toxicity.’

The earlier article of Dawkins calling the GOP candidates a disgrace shows how adamant Dawkins is against the Creationist belief. However this article really reflects on how Dawkins tends to come out with outlandish statements and seldom follows up on such facts he claims. “I don’t think it’s unfair to say that, if we’re looking for the maximum toxicity in religions in the world, it’s got to be Islam,” he said. “It’s partly that they are taught to believe that the Koran is literally true.”[5] Dawkins does raise some valid points about issue of creation, however the Vatican has the Vatican has itself promoted the theory of evolution, with Pope John Paul II acknowledging it as a mechanism in order for us to understand life.

The Vatican’s was originally sceptical in their response to Darwinian science. However, it has been highly praised and encouraged by the modern church. Most recently Pope John Paul II who stated that the ‘Church has benefited from scientific progress, not least from the fact that the sciences constitute a critical a critical instance which purifies religion from magical conception of the world and remnants of superstition.’[6] John Paul II arguably brought the church into the 20th century after the ending of Vatican II and his support and love for science was inspiring to many to appreciate how far the church has come. Pope Francis stated in October 2014 that Evolution and the Big Bang are not at odds with Catholicism, stating that ‘God is not a magician with a magic wand.’[7] Pope Benedict also emphasises how we need to know the distinction between science and religion, just as John Paul II often preached, ‘Science, cannot, therefore, presume to provide a complete, deterministic representation of our future and of the development of every phenomenon that it studies.’[8] In response to creationism, he proclaimed ‘Creation should be thought of, not according to the model of a craftsman who makes all sorts of objects, but rather in the manner in which thought is creative.’[9]

Theme 2 Dawkins and Ham’s Opinion of each other’s viewpoints.

The next section of my Media watch I decided to utilise articles from the news which illustrates the points of views from Richard Dawkins and Ken Ham in general and where they think their scientific and religious understanding comes from. I decided to choose this theme as both men have been vocal about politics, so let us see what their opinions are on science and religion’s function is in society.

Richard Dawkins: ‘There are people for whom truth doesn’t … Published 14th November 2015

In general Dawkins is highly known for critiquing the creationist views and association to the idea of a young Earth. A valid argument to most as Dawkins has aimed his crusade against this perspective of religion. However his accusations against religion in general leave many unanswered questions. “Human love, science, music, poetry. Just the joy of living.”[10] Important for any being to appreciate.

In this article, Dawkins illuminates how he found a love and passion for science during his college years and where his strong anti-religious thoughts came to be. He never had a burning ambition to become an academic but instead it is a desire that arose later on in his life. Dawkins never dedicated parts of his life to religion and has always profoundly followed science and logic in his eyes. His specific crusade against religion came about as a result of his work as a biologist.

His work on the Selfish Gene is addressed and he comments on how he never expected to receive as much praise as it did. Presuming that it was a common knowledge among his fellow biologist and he didn’t expect it to change as many opinions as it did. Comparing this to the opening of the article, Dawkins, has a love for truth and clarity and overcoming obscure ideologies, the article does highlight the great dedication Dawkins has put into both his work and beliefs which is admirable.

Dawkins does illustrates that he does see some on the benefits for religion but they have never impacted his thoughts and views. ‘I suppose I can, yes. Consolation has often been mentioned. I find myself remarkably unpersuaded by that argument . . . Everyone thinks that people on their deathbed are consoled by the fact that they’re going to go to heaven, but they’re terrified that they’re going to go to hell.’[11]

Sometimes I get frustrated with Dawkins’s terminology. I often question who is he referring to when he says they. He ona regular basis fails to realise a key element of religious belief in how it can be unique to an individual and even if two christians have a common.

Dawkins makes a striking comparison to question about playing God, ‘Was that like playing God? “You can think of it as a god,” he says, “or you can think of it as a farmer selecting cattle or a dog breeder breeding dogs.”[12] I highlight this quote for a specific reason. It is intriguing not because it comes from Dawkins but allows us to reflect that in so many different aspects of society we have control over the faith of others. As a teacher I found the statement quite thought provoking, deciding to be competent at a job where literally futures could be at stake is angle to the job I never embraced and it relates to so many other aspects of society.  It is something that many people don’t consider yet it is an area that is arguably not taken seriously enough.

The author of the article to be faith does not portray Dawkins in either a positive or negative light;. Instead it is a formal account of Dawkins’s thoughts portrayed at the time of the interview. However my next article shows a distinction in the views of the interviewee.



Overall, this article is arguably one of the most important in my media watch portfolio. It does not highlight a specific recent event where he criticises. Instead it overall details his reasons for his criticisms and his life philosophies in general which provides a different approach to his usual blatant criticism of a religious ideology or religious figure.

Dawkins has undoubtedly shows tremendous dedication to his own belief. Clarifying that his own interpretation of science is that is has its own sufficient mystical element that is enough for him.

Is Atheism a Religion? Ken Ham Insists It Is 5th November 2015

This article see us return to comments made by the Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham, speculating that Atheism is in fact a religion. Taken from the, the article once again highlights Ham’s dedication to the creationist ideology juxtaposes the ideologies of Dawkins and Dennet with the Ultra-Darwinist ideas and we are presented with another key example here.’[13]

Ham is known for associating atheism to a religious identity to the irritation of the likes of Dawkins. “Generations of our young people, including many in our churches, have been educated in government-run schools in the religious view of naturalism, which in reality is atheism.”[14] Back in September he slammed Unstoppable, the newly released book on climate change by Bill Nye, as promoting “the religion of naturalism” and seeking to “brainwash generations of kids.”[15] This part of the article i almost found humerous. The ‘brainwashing’ of children angle through storytelling and fiction is common in creationist societies. Buddy Davis, a creationist folk singer has recorded many song debunking atheism and furthermore the Big Bang Theory and the belief of an old Earth.

This article may not necessarily be a reflection on Ham’s career like Dawkin’s Irish Times interview. However it encourages my understanding that fundamentalists in this war of words almost seem to be in war over which came first, the chicken or the egg; judging by both opinions neither side will ever be pleased with each others perspectives. The website Christian Post is evidently in favor of Ham’s view and at times almost portrays religious criticisers as the enemy. Although, like the Irish times it reflects a formal report, it still shows ham

Theme 3: The Catholic Church’s Teachings

Religion and Science: The Evolutionary Controversy 18th November 2015

Briefly, this article highlights the ideas similar to that touted by Pope John Paul II regarding the co-existence between science and religion  and clarifies how neither element are not really at odds at all besides certain sceptics and atheists who proclaim otherwise.

John Paul II was fond of the scientific findings on evolutions. This week I intend to examine neither the ultra – Darwinist or Creationist views, but instead the views of the Catholic church in response to the debates and controversies that have arisen over the past century.

Strong views in response to Charles Darwin have in some cases hijacked the debate of what Darwinism truly means and how it contributes to our modern understanding of science. The Catholic Church is not at odds with the theory of evolution. Pope John Paul II often encouraged the study of evolution and natural selection, believing that science deepened our understanding of life on earth. However, the creation versus evolution controversy, involves a recurring political, theological and cultural debate regarding the origins of life on Earth and the universe itself. The debate rages most publicly in the United States. Other parts of Europe also have taken up the debate too but to a much lesser extent. Therefore, through my second chapter I plan to examine these beliefs.

From my own questioning I found that the majority of people who hold traditional religious views tend to not think of the world’s creation, nor necessarily care about the facts of the story instead, they focus on metaphorical meaning relative

Theme 4 : Science and Religion in Education.  26/01/16

Noah’s ark has been found, not on top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea, but instead n Ken Ham’s Young Earth Creationist museum. The final Article I am examining is a post made in the new year of January 2016. for my final media watch week I intend to examine  how Ultra Darwinists and creationists promote religious education.

Once again I m taking an article from and I notice the favor toward Dawkins in the posts. Although I have encountered atheists favorable articles, the Christian Posts are a more mainstream site with a formal presence. “Atheist organizations and other secular groups have been falsely claiming that AiG/Ark Encounter should not receive a facially neutral tax incentive in Kentucky because of our Christian message.”[16] The final article I am examining is not about the funding of a new museum for athiests or science in schools but instead the risk of what happens when we don’t combat creationist topics with science.

Dawkins undoubtedly raises an extremely valid point here. It’s not that we should not teach creationism, (regardless of our views) but we cannot preach creationism as cannon and I think that is why a lot of schools in America are failing to do because they are incapable of critiquing their own set of religious beliefs. James fowler examined in his third stage of faith development, when people reach adolescence they become very protective to their original beliefs. Dawkins credits

‘Students will say they don’t believe in the science because it’s not what they are being told through engagement with their faith. That’s a very sensitive issue for teachers to handle.’ There is a lot of truth in the statement. We as children often don’t see the concept of lying according to James Fowler. What we are taught about Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc comes from our perception of what people (mostly our families) tell us. The article comes from the telegraph in the UK which is a well respected news site. The article is certainly examining dawkins’s point but it is also examining other responses from both creationists and celebrities to the principal’s new methods of teaching evolution in schools. This is certainly one of Dawkins’s more positive reports I have seen in the past few weeks.

It certainly parallels with Ham’s new Ark in terms of each respective idea being used for a certain part of education. The two articles although show a serious amount of time and effort put into their respective project once again encourage us to raise the questions surrounding what is the happy medium between evolution and religion. My past article on the church’s teaching of evolution certainly examines that happy medium. For our future with religious education the article informs and reminds us that it is vital that we ensure we illustrate both ideas and also remind pupils that although there is no conflict between religion and science, fact and faith are two different things and should not be mistaken.


Finale: Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists: Victims of Social media

Right, to conclude this I decided the final theme will not be any articles but instead a collection of memes I have encountered from the Facebook page Catholic Memes. Ironic that the fan page takes a word created by Dawkins, however it takes a line of defence against any fundamentalist religious or scientific view against the Catholic belief. I found this a far more humorous take on my media watch project but at the same time there are underlying messages that speak for themselves in the image.

I follow both Dawkins and Ham on their respective twitter pages and the articles i have shown in the project mostly came from links they directly tweeted. Originally I had intended to explore other atheists like Dennett and Michael Ruse but it just worked out that the majority of articles published in relation to the impact of evolution against religion came from Dawkins and vice verse for creationism and Ken Ham.

Probably the best meme I saw from Catholic memes that really one which really speaks volumes illustrated a child’s response to the petit science and religion debates.

This meme basically sums up my entire project and my opinion on both matters. It is not only a handy tool for teaching a questions of faith, but also the churches stance on the area of evolution and religion as well being a thought provoking image for people to easily understand. I recently blogged on the benefits of memes in the classroom and the following is one I used for my own classroom;

Lastly, the Pope regularly tweets @pontifex and he does not tweet about criticisms or anything that may single out certain groups, but instead regularly delivers words of wisdom and prayer for all to see.

Media Watch Conclusion

Religion in a globalising world: some implications for religious education.

To conclude, Darwin undoubtedly provided one of the best contributions to science in the world. It solidified our understanding of how life on earth exists the way it does. Even from his ground-breaking work however, both science and religion cannot answer all of the questions but there is no reason to say that the two are at odds; fact informs us, faith reassures us. The exact origins of the Earth are still a mystery and no religious or scientific group hold a monopoly of the truth. For a religious education teacher, I find it is essential I teach the concept of belief and the question of faith; It is not my role to follow religious instruction in the classroom regardless of what certain labour ministers think. However even though I myself would is agree with much of what Dawkins says, I think he has a significant contribution to a question of faith. However there are a lot of scholars and scientists, both atheist and religious who too I would gladly incorporate and think should be given a significant examining in the religious education school curriculum.

Influences for my Media Watch

Conor Cunningham’s award winning Documentary on this very topic established why both Ultra Darwinist and Creationists have hijacked the debate regarding whether Evolution means Atheism. Cunningham claimed in his documentary that like many atheists, our knowledge and concept of God goes beyond the theory of evolution, but that is not the case for Dawkins or Ham, ‘Both Ultra-Darwinians and creationists believe that any existent deity is a designer ‘God.”’[17] Throughout his documentary Cunningham examines the reasoning behind much of this animosity toward the theory of evolution. He encounters many different philosophers, scientists and theologians discussing with them their response to evolution. Michael Ruse and Francis Collins are the two most notable scientists who refute the belief the Evolution implies atheism.

Michael Ruse is well known for balancing the benefits and negatives of religion and science. Ruse, a lecturer at Florida State University, is a philosopher of science who specialises in philosophy of biology. He is well known for his work for the relationship between science and religion, the creation evolution controversy and the demarcation problem in science. Ruse emphasises that although he himself is an atheist, he claims there is no reason why Darwinism should imply Ultra Darwinism. Francis Collins discusses how to illustrate a flaw in Dawkins theory of the Theory of Memes, ‘Science is committing a category error to claim dominion over the existence of God.’[18] Collins dedicated over fifteen years studying the role of DNA in organisms and it has only come to recent light that all living things link to each other in some shape or form through our DNA.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French Roman Catholic priest and a scientist. He was highly respected for his work in physics, geology, palaeontology and theology. Teilhard de Chardin spent a great deal of his life in scientific research. Teilhard de Chardin believed scientific work gave him greater understanding of God as moral compass. The more he discovered about the world of nature the more he saw the creative hand of God at work. For this man, science and scientific research were ways of getting closer to God. He wrote his insights in his two books The Phenomenon of Man and The Hymn of the Universe. I think that Teilhard is a key example and role model with regard to our outlook on God. Instead of ignoring any scientific data previously presented by the likes of Darwin or Galileo, he instead embraced these theories and went on to discover the truth for self him and came to his own conclusions.

These men revolutionised science and philosophical theories regarding religion in the 20th and 21st century. However from I have seen and outlined in the media watch, it is not their contributions which take centre stage which at times can be worrying. Not in regard we have to putting religion into every 6 1 news as it is just as vital to ensure we do not come across as promoting religious instruction. However, my key goal as an RE teacher since I became a student teacher is not to promote students faith but instead their understanding of culture and philosophy. Education is the most powerful weapon we can give to the youth as Mandela preached.

From my examination of the American presidential candidates, it perhaps may become very important to illustrate the importance of appreciating not only different religious views but different cultures permitting them to examine and conclude on their own opinions regarding faith and its relationship to the modern world, which is indeed what even Dawkins has at times agreed is the best course of action regarding the position of religion in education.

For the Junior Certificate exam curriculum there is a section dedicated to a question of faith. Here it examines the importance of knowing terms such as atheist and agnostic but also examines how religions have been at the core of technological and scientific growth. Senior cycle also explores this concept as does the LCA course with the first Looking In module.  James Fowler in his third stage of faith development that at the age of adolescent’s pupils they become more aware of criticism to their original beliefs, ‘At this point, their life has grown to include several different social classes and there is a need to pull it all together.’[19] Our belief system evolves too at the same time, ‘When this happens, a person usually adopts some sort of all-encompassing belief system. However, at this stage, people tend to have a hard time seeing outside their box and don’t recognise that they are “inside” a belief system. At this stage, authority is usually placed in individuals or groups that represent one’s beliefs.’[20] It is our job as religious educators to ensure we respect the original views of the adolescent but also to guide them and help them to understand the every changing values we hold in a globalising world.

To conclude, from all of these pre-Darwinian works, surely one can acknowledge that the question and existence of God dates back further than both Darwin and the scriptures of Christianity. Tackling these different beliefs systems is a big obstacle for teachers, however it should not be seen as a burden but instead an opportunity to reinforce keys skills like communication and listen as well as managing information and of course promoting ICT competence through online research and blogging about opinions and so forth. However the scientific work done in dedication to a deity throughout the past millennia does neither prove, disprove or tarnish the reason to believe in God for any man of faith dedicated to the original scriptures and their metaphorical and allegorical teachings. However following the beliefs of Dawkins and Cunningham on twitter has allowed me to regularly keep up to date with how religion is being portrayed on social media even if the public media does not overly dedicate stories to these ideas.



PBS. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Atheist Richard Dawkins Calls It ‘Disgraceful’ That Presidential Hopefuls Are Creationists – and Reveals Which Religion Has ‘Maximum Toxicity.’ Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Creationist views ‘risk going unchallenged in schools’. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Is Atheism a Religion? Ken Ham Insists It Is. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Ken Ham Calls Richard Dawkins ‘Blind’ for Criticizing Creationist Candidates. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Ken Ham Calls Richard Dawkins ‘Blind’ for Criticizing Creationist Candidates. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Ken Ham Wins Million-Dollar Religious Freedom Case for Ark Encounter Theme Park. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are right and God isn’t ‘a magician with a magic wand’ – Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Religion and Science: The Evolutionary Controversy – College & University – Catholic Online. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Richard Dawkins: ‘There are people for whom truth doesn’t matter.’ Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Additional Books:

  • Caruana, Louis; Darwin and Catholicism The Past and Present Dynamics of a Cultural Encounter ( EW York, T&T Clark, 2009)
  • Cunningham Conor, Darwin’s Pious Idea: Why the Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get it Wrong (William B. Erdmans, London; 2010).
  • Darwin, Charles, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (London; Bibliolis Books ltd. 1887 (reissued 2010))
  • Darwin, Charles, The Origin of Species (London, Penguin Classics, First published 1859, re-issued 1968).
  • Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion (London: Black Swan, 2007).
  • Dawkins, Richard; The Selfish Gene (New York; Oxford University Press, 1976)
  • Dawkins, Richards, The Greatest Show on Earth (London, Black Swan, 2009).
  • Ham, Ken, Why Won’t They Listen? The power of Creation Evangelisation (Master Books, Green Forest Arizona, 2002).
  • Fowler, Thomas, The Evolutionary Controversy (Baker Academic, 2007; USA).
  • Haught John, God after Darwin, A Theology of Evolution (UK: Westview Press 2008).
  • McCarthy, Fachtna & McCann, Joseph, ‘Religion and Science’. (Veritas, Dublin 2003)
  • Ruse, Michael, ‘The Evolution-Creation Struggle’. (London: Harvard University          Press 2005)
  • Scott, Eugene; Don’t Call it Darwinism (Springer Science, 2009)
  • Stott, Ian; The God Solution: Are you ready? (USA, Xilbris LLC; 2013)
  • Pope Benedict quoted in Stephen O. Horn and Siegfried Wiedenhofer, eds.,Creation and Evolution: A Conference with Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo, trans. Michael Miller, foreword Christoph Cardinal Schönborn (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2008).



[1] Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (London, Penguin Classics, First published 1859, re-issued 1968) p.455

[2] “Evolution: Library: Ken Ham: Biblical Literalist – PBS.” 2002. 31 Jan. 2016 <>

[3] “Ken Ham Calls Richard Dawkins ‘Blind’ for Criticizing …” 2015. 31 Jan. 2016 <>

[4] “Ken Ham Calls Richard Dawkins ‘Blind’ for Criticizing …” 2015. 31 Jan. 2016 <>

[5] “Atheist Richard Dawkins Calls It ‘Disgraceful … – TheBlaze.” 2015. 31 Jan. 2016 <>

[6] Louis Caruana, Darwin and Catholicism The Past and Present Dynamics of a Cultural Encounter ( EW York, T&T Clark, 2009) p.33

[7] “Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are …” 2014. 31 Jan. 2016 <>

[8] Louis Caruana, Darwin and Catholicism The Past and Present Dynamics of a Cultural Encounter ( EW York, T&T Clark, 2009) p. 35

[9] Pope Benedict quoted in Stephen O. Horn and Siegfried Wiedenhofer, eds., Creation and Evolution: A Conference with Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo, trans. Michael Miller, foreword Christoph Cardinal Schönborn (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2008),  p.13.

[10] “Richard Dawkins: ‘There are people for whom truth doesn’t …” 2015. 30 Jan. 2016 <>

[11] “Richard Dawkins: ‘There are people for whom truth doesn’t …” 2015. 18 Nov. 2015 <>

[12] “Richard Dawkins: ‘There are people for whom truth doesn’t …” 2015. 18 Nov. 2015 <>

[13] “Atheist Richard Dawkins: Christianity Has the Power to Defeat Radical Islam.” 2016. 20 Jan. 2016 <>

[14] “Is Atheism a Religion? Ken Ham Insists It Is.” 2015. 18 Nov. 2015 <>

[15] “Ken Ham Calls Out Richard Dawkins, Claims ‘There Are No …” 2015. 18 Nov. 2015 <>

[16] “Ken Ham Wins Million-Dollar Religious Freedom Case for …” 2016. 30 Jan. 2016 <>

[17] Cunningham Conor, Darwin’s Pious Idea: Why the Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get it Wrong (William B. Erdmans, London; 2010) p.151.

[18] Did Darwin kill God  YouTube. Last Received 19/9/14

[19] “James Fowler’s Stages of Faith – Psychology Charts.” 2014. 31 Jan. 2016 <>

[20] “James Fowler’s Stages of Faith – Psychology Charts.” 2014. 31 Jan. 2016 <>

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Classroom Contract

A classroom contract is an extremely effective way in establishing rules for pupils early on in the year. I made the mistake of waiting until now to use it. So far since I have started it it has been extremely effective.

The best way to construct the contract in in the classroom. Structure it in three sections, firstly, the I will section.


Here you ask the students through a series of higher and lower order questions what they think would come under the terms of what the students will in the classroom. The answers will range from be on time, to always put our hand up to having homework. Although these are systems of basic school rules, there is no harm to throw in one or two unique to your specific learning environment. Such as for History I will leave off topic questions until the end etc.

The I WILL NOT section:

Sure what else? Here we will again ask students what they will not do in class such as talk out of turn, swing on chairs, etc. Again incorporate you’re own devices such as toilet use. I will not use the toilet more than twice a week etc. Just to establish order.


For good behaviour and following the classroom contract, ensure the students see the benefit from their good behaviour and do not see no result of effectiveness from your part. Simple rewards such as a video reward or sweets rewards good behaviour. Punishments such as lines and write outs for those who do not follow the contract.

The contract is an extremely beneficial thing especially for weaker classes. Just ensure you yourself enforce it.

#5j16, #class-activities, #classroom-contract, #classroom-ideas, #edchatie, #education, #reflection, #teaching-resources-2