While research indicates opinions on whether science and religion can overlap are changing, white men are among those ‘most likely’ to hold ‘a negative view’ on the subject, according to a study released on Monday.
“‘Science and Religion’: Moving Away from the Shallow End” was developed over three years by researchers at the UK-based Christian think tank Theos and The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, a Cambridge-based research institute. It used information gleaned from interviews with more than 100 experts from autumn 2019 to autumn 2020, and a YouGov survey of 5,153 UK-based adults conducted last year between early May and mid-June.
The researchers wrote that their study was based on the idea that debate over science and religion is often seen as ‘out of proportion’, with the ‘loudest voices’ on either side often dominating discussions of popular topics. like the evolution and creation of the universe. Exploring deeper parts of these debates – these researchers say they can be glossed over when hot topics are broached – reveals there is less disagreement over whether science and religion can co-exist than is commonly believed, the study authors said.
“In short, much of the ‘battle’ of science and religion has been smoke – and there has been a lot of smoke – but no real fire,” said an outline of the study.
In the early 2000s, scholars wrote that there was “angry hostility” against religion in the wake of the New Atheist movement popularized by writers like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. But the study results suggest that “that moment has passed,” said Nick Spencer, principal investigator at Theos and co-author of the study. First Christian radio Monday.
While a poll taken around the time of the New Atheist movement found that 42% of adults in the UK described faith as “one of the great evils of the world”, that number fell to 20% in the UK. study by Theos and Faraday Institute, with 46% of respondents saying that “all religions have an element of truth in them”.
The researchers found that views on the compatibility of science and religion in a general sense were more negative than questions about the compatibility of specific fields of science with religion. They attributed these differences to the “legacy of antagonism” created during the neo-atheist period.
Adults polled for the YouGov survey were almost twice as likely to identify science and religion as “incompatible”, with 57% of respondents describing the two topics as such and only 30% telling pollsters they were ” compatible”.
In broader conversations about science and religion, the study of evolution is a popular topic, according to one scholar, among the few “narrow lenses” through which the science versus religion debate is often viewed. Another of the main “narrow lenses” is whether people believe the universe was created by a God or by the Big Bang. Focusing on these popular issues and the strong opinions present on either side of the debate leaves the broader conversation between science and religion “out of proportion”, the researchers wrote.
“‘Science and religion’ is very much like a swimming pool,” said Monday press release issued by Theos said. “All the noise is in the shallow end.”
On evolution specifically, the researchers wrote that their findings “show that only a small minority of people (including religious people) reject evolution.” Young people tend to be less rooted in the “shallow end” of the evolutionary debate and the general conversation about science and religion, the study’s findings suggest. While around 64% of respondents aged 16-24 told YouGov pollsters they believed it was possible to believe in both God and evolution, only around 45% of respondents aged 57 and more said they believed the same.
The survey also found that a slightly lower number of Gen Z respondents – around 53% – said they thought science and religion were incompatible, compared to 56% of respondents aged 57 or older.
“More generally, religious people are no more hostile to science itself than non-religious people,” the study’s summary states.
Survey participants’ views on the compatibility of religion and science have “a noticeable gender and ethnic dimension”, the researchers wrote in the summary of the study.
According to survey results60% of all men surveyed described science and religion as “incompatible”, compared to 55% of all women surveyed.
“Men are more likely to express an opinion on this issue and to be hostile than women,” the researchers wrote.
According to the survey results, more white respondents – about 68% – than non-white participants – about 48% – told pollsters they thought science and religion were “incompatible”. The study noted that there were also gender differences in this data.
“Indeed, white males are the group most likely to hold a negative view of science and religion,” they wrote.
When reached Monday for further comment, Spencer said Newsweek that female survey participants “are often slightly more hesitant to speak up in public opinion polls, and they also tend to be more positive about religion.”
“Furthermore,” Spencer continued, “ethnic minority respondents in the UK are disproportionately more religious than white respondents. All of these factors combine here to give a bias towards men, with white men in particular, expressing greatest hostility regarding science and religion today.”