The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently released a large-scale study on the "Religious Understandings of Science," and it's findings might surprise you.
The survey of 10,241 respondents investigated views on religion, science and faith and took particular interest in the responses from evangelicals and people working in the sciences. Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice University professor and lead researcher on the study, was particularly interested to investigate how religion and science can -- and do -- coexist in the modern world.
Ecklund conducted a similar study several years ago in which she surveyed nearly 1,700 natural and social scientists on their views about religion, spirituality and ethics. From her findings, Ecklund noted a particularly surprising trend: There are actually quite a few spiritual scientists out there.
Many atheist and agnostic scientists think key mysteries about the world can be best understood spiritually, and some attend houses of worship, completely comfortable with religion as moral training for their children and an alternative form of community.
Professor Ecklund refers to this as "secret spirituality," or a reluctance to discuss spiritual ideas with colleagues. Some said they worried that doing so would cause others to question the validity of their scientific work. The same thing can happen for religious scientists, Ecklund said, who find themselves practicing a "secret science" in the pews, hesitant to bring up scientific ideas.
Ecklund's earlier findings, which she outlined in her book "Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think," include:
1. Nearly 50% of scientists identify with a religious label.
2. 14% of scientists have some doubts, but believe in God.
3. 9% of scientists have no doubt of God's existence.
4. 14% of elite scientists are Mainline Protestant.
5. 16% of elite scientists are Jewish.
6. Roughly one-fifth of the atheist scientists Ecklund spoke with say they consider themselves "spiritual atheists."
The newer "Religious Understandings of Science" study was presented on February 16 at the annual AAAS conference and revealed insights into what religious Americans think about science. The findings include:
1. Nearly 50% of evangelicals believe that science and religion can work together and support one another.
2. 72% of evangelical scientists, and 48% of all evangelicals, see opportunities for collaboration between scientific and religious worldviews.
3. 20% of the general population think most religious people are hostile to science.
4. 22% of the general population thinks scientists are hostile to religion.
5. 27% of Americans feel that science and religion are in conflict.
6. Of those who feel science and religion are in conflict, 52% sided with religion.
7. Nearly 60% of evangelical Protestants and 38% of all surveyed believe “scientists should be open to considering miracles in their theories or explanations.”