Turns Out, Science and Religion Get Along Just Fine

Most people say science and religion are not at odds with each other. So why does the media present it that way?

National Journal

If it accomplished anything at all, the recent evolution-versus-creation debate between Bill Nye (science guy) and Ken Ham (creationist guy) reinforced this idea: that science and religion are impossibley at odds, that Nye and Ham are speakers of two different languages, incomprehensible to one another.

But that impression — that the population is stubbornly sorted into science people and religious/creation people — is not accurate.

recent survey of 10,000 individuals of many religious backgrounds found that only 27 percent felt science and religion were at odds with each other. Furthermore, 48 percent of respondents who identified as evangelicals said that science and religion can collaborate with one another. Pew Research found similar results in 2009. "Only 48 percent of those who attend religious services at least once a week see a conflict," that study noted.

The chart below is adapted from the survey. Notice that more than half of those who identified as "Evangelical Protestant" hold a belief that meshes science and religion on the question of human origins.

The sticking points for evangelical creationists, though, are particularly sticky. For instance, 42 percent of evangelicals strongly believe creationism should be taught instead of evolution in schools. An additional 25 percent say it should be taught alongside it.

But the bottom line is this: Framing the debate between science and religion as binary is not right. It's more of a continuum of belief. "The emphasis on human origins has narrowed the conversation," the survey concludes.

"It would serve us well to remember the topics on which there is greater agreement or openness to collaboration, such that a framework of trust and mutual respect might develop between these two communities," the authors write.

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