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KS4 RE: TB - 'Fundamentalism' v 'Evolution' (1925)

Explore the theory of evolution and Christian beliefs.

Main image of KS4 RE: TB - 'Fundamentalism' v 'Evolution' (1925)
AuthorPoppy Simpson, BFI
Topic Evolution and the Bible
Key Words Darwin, creationism, Image of God, Natural Selection, Genesis
Show full lesson spec

The clash between followers of Darwin and followers of the Bible is represented in a head-on train collision.

A very simple (and very useful) film that can be used as a way in to the contemporary debate surrounding Creationism and Darwinism.

The newsreel also places the tension between science and religion in a historical context. The film was made around the time of the 'Scopes Monkey Trial' - a landmark legal case that tested the law forbidding the teaching of any theory that denied the story of Divine creation in Tennessee schools.

This short activity can be used to find out what students already know about the theory of evolution and how this interacts with Christianity, or to consolidate their understanding of different explanations for human existence.

Lesson Objective

  • To explore the conflict between science and Christianity in explaining human existence.


Watch the short film, without introduction, before asking students to contribute their ideas to a whole class discussion. What is the film showing? What do students know about evolution? How does the theory of evolution conflict with Christian belief? Can Christians believe in evolution? What is the significance of the use of the term 'fundamentalism' in the film - what does that word imply?


Main Attraction

Once some of these questions have been explored, challenge students to write a short voiceover to accompany the silent footage. Split the class up, with students choosing to write from one of three different perspectives:

  1. A Christian who rejects the theory of evolution.
  2. An adherent of Darwin who rejects the concept of Divine creation.
  3. A Christian who does not reject the theory of evolution.

Encourage students to use key words/phrases in their script (Darwin, Genesis, Creationism, 'Image of God', Natural Selection etc.).

Once the scripts have been written - hear a selection read as the newsreel plays. What do students notice about the differences (or similarities) of approach among the class? How do the different voiceovers contribute to their understanding of the debate?


End Credits

Finish off the lesson by looking at different countries' approaches to the teaching of evolution in schools. Where is the teaching of evolution banned? Why? How do students think that the theory of evolution should be dealt with in the RE classroom? Perhaps ask students to consolidate their ideas by writing a brief response to the following statement: the theory of evolution should be taught in Science.


External Links
Download 'Fundamentalism' v 'Evolution'

Video Clips
Complete film (1:17)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Topical Budget 734-2: 'Fundamentalism' v 'Evolution' (1925)Topical Budget 734-2: 'Fundamentalism' v 'Evolution' (1925)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of KS4 RE: To Encourage the Others (1972)KS4 RE: To Encourage the Others (1972)

What does Christianity have to say about capital punishment?