In this article, a rationale for advancing a new idea in humanistic science education is developed from a Paulo Freire perspective. Paulo Freire developed a well-known approach to adult literacy based on his humanistic ideas through the dialogical process. From Freirean educational principles, the idea unfolds that a Freirean humanistic science education perspective is a political commitment to sociopolitical action, considering conditions of oppression in society. Although some humanistic science education approaches to school science have incorporated a sociopolitical perspective, it is showed that not all of them necessarily focus on the political purpose of transforming oppressive conditions in society as stressed by Paulo Freire. From this Freirean humanistic perspective, an approach to science education is then highlighted, which implies the introduction of socially relevant themes and socioscientific issues, the establishment of a dialogical process in classroom, and the development of sociopolitical action. Hence, a Freirean perspective of science education is presented as a radical view of scientific literacy. Some implications of a Freirean approach to science education are outlined at the end of the paper. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed93: 361–382, 2009