The Pew Research Center released a new survey today on religion and science. The subtitle reads “Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.” That definitely intrigued me, so I had to read more. I encourage anyone interested in the area of science and religion to read the report. Here are a few key points that really stood out for me.
1. The first graphic really got me thinking. Here’s what they said in their analysis:
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.
This is really interesting. So while the majority of people in the survey believe that science and religion are often in conflict, less than a third said science conflicts with their own beliefs. Clearly a perception issue. People hear from others or read articles arguing that there has to be a conflict, yet they don’t think science conflicts with their own beliefs.
2. Something else that really stood out to me is that according to the report, those individuals who attend religious services the LEAST, are more likely to say that science and religion are “often in conflict.” Another perception issue? Definitely sounds like it.
3. I found the next graphic even more intriguing. A majority (76%) of those people who say they have no religious affiliation view science and religion as “often in conflict.” Yet, when asked if science “sometimes conflict with your own religious beliefs,” only 16% said yes. Back to that perception issue again.
4. As can be expected, people’s religious beliefs and practices have a strong connection to their views on human evolution and the creation of the universe. This isn’t surprise at all
I encourage anyone reading this to go read the synopsis on the Pew website. It is pretty interesting stuff. One of the main take home messages from this research is that perceptions matter. Clearly people have known that for a while when it comes to all types of issues, but this is still an interesting finding. The question we need to ask is “what can people do about it?”
I expect over the next few days and weeks people will point out flaws with this research. That’s typical with all research. However, this will definitely help with the research Mark and I are doing right now. Hopefully we can post something on that soon.