Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Science and Religion Are Happy to Collaborate, Except for When They're Not

 

A new poll released Sunday suggests that, despite common pubic perception, perpetuated by things like Bill Nye’s creationism vs. evolution debate, scientists and devout Christians aren’t automatically at odds. 

According to the poll, roughly half of evangelical Christians believe that science and religion are in a “collaborative relationship.” Just 27 percent of the 10,000 people surveyed by Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund viewed science and religion as being in direct conflict with each other. (Though let's not forget that Americans, as a whole, don't really know how to feel about science).

On its face, that should be good news for those who want to advance scientific policy in the US. The problem, however, comes when you consider where the sticking points are between the two sides.

To wit: A third of those interviewed said that scientists should be more open to considering that “miracles” can explain much of the world, and 43 percent of evangelicals said that they believe in a creationist viewpoint in which “God created the Earth, the universe and all life within the past 10,000 years.” The survey found that evangelicals were “more than twice as likely as the rest of the sample to say that they would turn to a religious leader or text if they have a question about science.” 

It’s easy for anyone, including devout Christians, to think science is a force for good (or at least one that’s not actively evil) when you consider things like technological advancements, the internet, energy production, and other relatively uncontroversial disciplines. Likewise, it’s easy for the pro-science crowd to take a look at religion and consider it beneficial to society when you think about, say, the charitable contributions many religions make. But when the two are in direct contradiction with each other, or when science has provided a means to directly contradict the teachings of Christianity and other religions—evolution vs. creationism, abortion, cloning—it’s a very different story.

For the rest of the story: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/science-and-religion-are-happy-to-collaborate-except-for-when-theyre-not

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