It’s Not About Science or Religion — It’s About Being Human

The Pew Research Center has just released a new study about how religion affects Americans’ views on science, and there are quite a few fascinating key takeaways.

The most important finding was that the common refrain that “religious people don’t embrace science” is simply not true. Only 30% of people felt that their religious views conflicted with science, and even more interesting, it was non-religious people who were more likely to think science and religion were in conflict than religious people.

But Pew also went deeper, and asked people about critical policy questions where science plays an important role, such as GMO’s, the space station, fracking, vaccinations and climate change. And while there are certainly some topics where religion influences people’s view on science — evolution, abortion, the origins of the universe — the report noted that “on a number of other science-related topics, there is no independent effect of religious affiliation or frequency of church attendance on public attitudes.”

So what do we do with these findings?

It means we need to change the conversation. Too often, the discussion about religion and science is focused on the points of conflict and disagreement. We read about schools teaching intelligent design, or presidential candidates who don’t accept evolution, and yes, when I read those stories, it makes my blood boil.

But when people are interacting with science on a day-to-day basis, they are rarely thinking about the origins of the universe. Instead, they are thinking about the issues that face us as individuals and society, such as how technology is changing our lives, or the ethical implications of genetic engineering, or how we can engender more compassion in our society.

So as the Pew Report seems to indicate, when we drill down and talk about specific subjects, we can —> Read More