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Christians vs science?

February 28th, 2013

Laboratory

It’s more or less a stereotype, especially in the US: christians are thought to be anti-science.

Except the evidence apparently says something different.

Science on Religion

One of my favourite blogs is Science on Religion. It, together with a companion website, is put together by a bunch of guys at the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion and the Boston University Religion and Science program.

The blog reports on academic studies of religion and believers from a scientific perspective, whether it be biology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, or whatever. So readers get facts, as much as they can be established.

Are christians suspicious of science?

A recent post (An evidence-based rethinking of the religion-science conflict) reports on a study by sociologist John Evans at the University of California in San Diego. Using a survey of 4,510 people, Evans examines understanding of, and attitudes to, science and to ethical issues raised by science (stem cell research and climate change).

His findings were interesting:

  • Christians generally have equal or more scientific knowledge than non-believers, and have taken equal or more science courses.
  • Conservative christians will be inclined to question scientific conclusions when they conflict with religious beliefs.
  • Conservative protestants tend to oppose scientists making ethical judgments on matters which are important to their faith.

These attitudes are not based on scientific illiteracy (quite the contrary). Rather, christians tend to look for ways to understand science that conform to their beliefs, because they believe that eventually, the two will be harmonised.

Sociological data

These findings seem to be consistent with data which shows that the decline in religion in the US is greatest among the less educated (Less-educated Americans are losing religion, study finds), and therefore presumably those with less science education.

The bottom line

Christians are suspicious of some aspects of science, but are not opposed to it per se, and are quite scientifically literate.

Photo: MorgueFile

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