Are Science and Religion at Odds?

2 million U.S. scientists identify themselves as evangelical Christians.

Science and religion—to some degree—have been at odds for more than a century, evidenced by the modernist controversy of the early part of the 1900s.

Evangelical scientists are more active in their faith than American evangelicals in general.

For some, the two are mutually exclusive: You are either religious, or you fully embrace science.

That view was called into question at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, where Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund released the results of a comprehensive survey on religion and science.

Of the 10,000 people surveyed, only 27 percent “said that they viewed science and religion as being in conflict with each other,” according to an article by Becky Ham on the AAAS website. Also, 48 percent of evangelicals surveyed believe science and religion are in a “collaborative relationship.”

The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) commissioned the survey, and the results were presented Feb. 16.

“It’s encouraging to see that these two communities—science and faith—are not as divided as many people think,” said Carl Nelson, president and CEO of Transform Minnesota. “Dialogue and collaboration are important attributes to any issue, and we hope scientists become even more open to the importance of faith and its role in modern life.”

CT2014 Scientist
Image: Christianity Today

Another study presented at the same conference reported that 2 million U.S. scientists identify themselves as evangelical Christians.

Citing the study, Christianity Today magazine wrote that “evangelical scientists are more active in their faith than American evangelicals in general. They are more likely to consider themselves very religious, to attend religious services weekly, and to read religious texts at least every week.”

DoSER plans to hold several regional workshops with evangelical and science leaders in an effort to continue the communication. A national conference in 2015 is also planned, which will develop from the issues discussed at the regional workshops.

“Previously, studies have focused on what various groups think about a particular issue involving science, such as evolution or climate change … but this survey is different because it’s asking where people look to for authoritative information on science, who do they trust as their authority figures and how important do they think scientific issues are in their daily life,” said DoSER Director Jennifer Wiseman.


March 10, 2014

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