Your View on Religion and Science is Wrong, and That’s a Good Thing

By path2positive

A study released by the Pew Research Foundation uncovered that fifty-nine percent of religiously affiliated Americans 'see' a conflict between religion (that is not their own) and science. As Sojourners highlighted, this perceived schism is largely inaccurate, or, at the very least, oversimplified. When the same religiously affiliated participants were asked how their personal faith impacted their views on science, the number dropped to only thirty percent. 

This misconception is where it gets a bit complex. In a nation with overwhelmingly high religious affiliation, the vast majority of citizens (unfairly) assume that their counterparts from other traditions deny climate change. This premise is not true, particularly when we begin to analyze these numbers a bit further. For example, forty percent of Evangelical Christians deny that climate change is happening and/or manmade. At first appearance, this statistic would lead one to believe that the denial rests firmly in the grips of faith, when in fact, it has more to do with the individual's level of education, political affiliation, and ideology, not necessarily religion.

What's the takeaway?

Cary Funk, one the lead researchers on the report found, “only a handful of areas where people’s religious beliefs and practices have a strong connection to their views about science.” While the numbers may be divided when it comes to opinions on religious leaders speaking on issues of science, all-in-all, religious folk are not necessarily swayed toward climate denial by their faith. On the contrary, those drawn to climate discussions by their faith tend to induce a moral imperative to take action on climate change, not deny it's existence.

Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.

BY CARY FUNK AND BECKA A. ALPER | Pew Research Institute

Are science and religion at odds with each other? A majority of the public says science and religion often conflict, with nearly six-in-ten adults (59%) expressing this view in newly released findings from a Pew Research Center survey. The share of the public saying science and religion are often in conflict is up modestly from 55% in 2009, when Pew Research conducted a similar survey on religion and science.

People’s sense that there generally is a conflict between religion and science seems to have less to do with their own religious beliefs than it does with their perceptions of other people’s beliefs. Less than one-third of Americans polled in the new survey (30%) say their personal religious beliefs conflict with science, while fully two-thirds (68%) say there is no conflict between their own beliefs and science.

Moreover, the view that science and religion are often in conflict is particularly common among Americans who are, themselves, not very religiously observant (as measured by frequency of attendance at worship services). Some 73% of adults who seldom or never attend religious services say science and religion are often in conflict. By contrast, among more religiously observant Americans – those who report that they attend religious services on a weekly basis – exactly half (50%) share the view that science and religion frequently conflict.

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