The supposed rift between science and religion has led to the commonly held view that Christians overtly dismiss the sciences. But a new study released by Rice University actually finds that evangelicals are more likely than the general public to believe that science and faith can work together.
Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund recently conducted the study, titled, "Religious Understandings of Science," which found that only 38 percent of the general public believes that "science and religion can work in collaboration."
That said, the proportion of evangelicals was even higher.
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"We found that nearly 50 percent of evangelicals believe that science and religion can work together and support one another," she said in a press release announcing the results.
This wasn't the only fascinating find. The results also indicated that scientists aren't far off from the rest of the public when it comes to attendance at weekly religious services. While 20 percent of the U.S. attends church each week, so do 18 percent of scientists.
Additionally, while 19 percent of the U.S. considers itself very religious, 15 percent of scientists report feeling the same. Similar results were found when it comes to the weekly reading of religious texts (17 percent versus 13.5 percent).
And while 26 percent of the general populace prays several times per day, so do 19 percent of scientists.
These findings are surprising, especially considering the oft-touted narrative that science and religion are incompatible. Consider the most recent coverage surrounding "science guy" Bill Nye's debate with creationist Ken Ham. Much of it was centered on the differences inherent in Nye's and Ham's radically divergent belief systems.
Ecklund said that the media generally only present the two sides at odds with each other, which she believes leads to stereotyping and "not very good information."
Not surprisingly, the study found that 27 percent of Americans believe that there's a conflict between science and religion. But the sociologist believes that these new-found results will actually help change the notion that science and religion are at ideological odds.
"This is a hopeful message for science policymakers and educators, because the two groups don’t have to approach religion with an attitude of combat," the researcher said. "Rather, they should approach it with collaboration in mind."
Another find that might surprise some is the notion that Christians who work in science practice religion more intensely than evangelical Protestants in the general U.S. population. The fact that evangelical scientists are more religious certainly challenges commonly held stereotypes.
The study included 10,000 interviews with Americans along with in-depth interviews with Christians, Jews and Muslims. Among those latter exchanges, 140 were evangelicals.
Read more about the study here.
(H/T: NYC Religions)
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