Religious Americans Don’t See Conflict Between Faith and Science

Faith and Science

In a recent study, 59 percent of Americans said religion and science conflict with each other while 38 percent said the two are mostly compatible. However, the study by Pew Research Center also found that people’s perception of conflict between religion and science has little to do with their own beliefs and more to do with their perception of other people’s beliefs. The representative survey of over 2,000 American adults revealed that 30 percent of respondents believe their religious beliefs conflict with science while 68 percent believe theirs do not.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 76 percent respondents who do not associate themselves with any religion say science and religion often conflict.
  • 40 percent white evangelical Protestants say their personal beliefs sometimes conflict with science while 57 percent say theirs do not.
  • In recent years, there has been a sharp decline in the number of adults who believe science conflicts with their religious beliefs.
  • Of the three in 10 respondents who said that their religious beliefs conflict with science; the most common point of contention was their opinion on evolution and creationism.

The survey also revealed how the public is split in its views regarding the role played by a house of worship in policy matters and scientific debates. While half the respondents said that churches should express their views on scientific issues and policy decisions, 46 percent said churches have no right to interfere in such matters.

According to the study:

  • 69 percent white evangelical Protestants and 66 percent black Protestants believe churches should be involved in such matters.
  • 45 percent Catholics believe churches should express their views with regards to such issues while 49 percent believe they should stay out.
  • 66 percent religiously unaffiliated respondents believe churches should not be involved in scientific discussions and policy debates while 31 percent believes otherwise.

“It is the least religiously observant Americans who are most likely to perceive conflict between science and religion. But that perception is not closely tied to their own religious or supernatural beliefs. By far, the majority of those who seldom or never attend religious services say their own beliefs do not conflict with science. This suggests the perception of conflict is rooted in assumptions about other people's beliefs,” read the study.

Additionally, the study examined the views of religious groups across an array of science-related topics. The findings revealed only a handful of areas where respondents’ religious beliefs had a definite connection with their views on science-related issues.

For example:

  • 65 percent adults were found to believe in evolution while 31 percent were found to believe in creationism.
  • 86 percent of the religiously unaffiliated were found to believe in evolution as were 73 percent Catholics, 71 percent white mainline Protestants and 59 percent Hispanic Catholics.
  • 49 percent black Protestants and 36 percent white evangelical Protestants were found to believe in evolution.
  • 46 percent adults said genetic modification to reduce a baby’s risk of disease is appropriate while 50 percent said it is not.
  • 61 percent adults who attend church services on a weekly basis said genetic modification to reduce a baby’s risk of disease is the exploitation of medical advances as opposed to 45 percent adults who do not attend church services on a weekly basis and still share the same opinion.

Photo Credits: Get Religion

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