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Science and religion do mix

ut the relationship between secularization and science."

Many of those surveyed cited issues in the public realm (teaching of creationism versus evolution, stem cell research) as reasons for believing there is conflict between the two. The study showed that these individuals generally have a particular kind of religion in mind (and religious people and institutions) when they say that religion and science are in conflict.

The study identified three strategies of action used by these scientists to manage the religion-science boundaries and the circumstances that the two could overlap.

  • Redefining categories Scientists manage the science-religion relationship by changing the definition of religion, broadening it to include noninstitutionalized forms of spirituality.
  • Integration models Scientists deliberately use the views of influential scientists who they believe have successfully integrated their religious and scientific beliefs.
  • Intentional talk Scientists actively engage in discussions about the boundaries between science and religion.

"The kind of narrow research available on religion and science seems to ask if they are in conflict or not, when it should really ask the conditions under which they are in conflict," Ecklund said. "Our research has found that even within the same person, there can be differing views. It's very important to dispel the myth that people believe that religion and science either do or don't conflict. Our study found that many people have much more nuanced views."

These nuanced views often find their way into the classroom, according to those interviewed. One biologist, an atheist not part of any religious tradition, admitted that she makes a sincere effort to present science such that "religious students do not need to compromise their own selves." Although she is not reconsidering her personal views on religion, she seeks out resources to keep her religious stud

Contact: David Ruth
Rice University

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