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Of science and religion, scientists and evangelicals

Of science and religion, scientists and evangelicals

Last year, her research showed that more than 75 percent of American scientists are religious.

On March 13 of this year, she presented a new study to the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

Elaine Howard Ecklund, director of Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program, said 70 percent of self-identified evangelicals “do not view religion and science as being in conflict.”

Her findings, summarized by Religion News Service:

  • 48 percent [of evangelicals] view science and religion as complementary. Astrophysicist and evangelical Christian Deborah Haarsma, president of BioLogos, which recognizes “God as Creator of all life over billions of years,” said what she sees in the cosmos is “a scientific description of the universe God created.”
  • 21 percent view the two worldviews as entirely independent of one another.
  • About 30 percent see these worldviews in opposition.

Overall, 85 percent of Americans and 84 percent of evangelicals say modern science is doing good in the world. The greatest areas of accord were on the pragmatic side of science such as technology and medical discoveries that can alleviate suffering. Here, said Ecklund, most Americans see science and faith collaborating for the common good.

However, Ecklund also noted a finding that may make the evidence-based science world uneasy: 60 percent of evangelicals said scientists “should be open to considering miracles in their theories.”

The same conference also addressed environmentalism and faith, with remarks by Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, and Mitch Hescox, quoted in a story in Scientific American:

“God created a sustainable world … but he also told us to take care of it,” added Hescox, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. Hescox said he often quotes Genesis 2:15, where God orders Adam to “care for” the Garden of Eden. If he’s feeling more confrontational, he may point to the Book of Isaiah, which includes the line “the earth is polluted because of its inhabitants, who have transgressed laws [and] violated statutes.”

“Human beings are accountable for how they care about God’s creation. … To not tend to creation, to not steward it as a shepherd, as a renter, a leaser of the land, is definitively unbiblical, untheological,” he said.

Polls frequently show that evangelical Christians, who tend to be politically conservative and more inclined to take a literal view of the Bible, are more skeptical of climate change than members of other religious groups.

Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett


Image: “Tiffany Education (center)”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – 



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Philip Snyder

One of the problems is that Religion (faith) and Science answer different questions. Science is very good at how and when, but is doesn’t handle “who” or “why” all that well.

Faith answers who and why rather well, but how and when baffle it.

According to tradition, Moses is the authority (author) behind Genesis. I can imagine a conversation between God and Moses wherein God attempts to explain the concepts of peptides, amino acids, RNA, DNA, and how seemingly random change result in more and more complexity and diversity. Finally, frustrated with Moses lack of comprehension, God says: “Dirt! Ok? I took Dirt!”

Susan Forsburg

The AAAS has a long-standing interest in connecting scientists and people of faith, particularly evangelicals who are less science friendly. They have been working quite a lot on this in the last few years. The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion sponsored this conference (more on their facebook page: )

You may also be interested in the Episcopal Network for Science, Technology and Faith (FB: )

Elaine Howard Ecklund has surveyed many practicing scientists (ob discl: I was one of the ones she surveyed) with interesting results. I wouldn’t say that 75% are religious….According to her Wikipedia page, of scientists:

34% were atheist (12% of which also call themselves spiritual), 30% were agnostic, 27% had some belief in God (9% have doubts but affirm their belief, 5% have occasional belief, 8% believe in a higher power that is not a personal God), and 9% of scientists said they had no doubt of God’s existence. While more atheistic than the rest of the U.S. population, the research demonstrates that about a third (36%) of these scientists maintain some belief in God, a considerably smaller proportion than the approximately 90% in the general American population.
Most scientists that did express some belief in God considered themselves “religious liberals”.
Some atheist scientists still considered themselves “spiritual”.
Religious scientists reported that their religious beliefs affected the way they think about the moral implications of their work, not the way they practice science.[3]

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