The two extremes of incompatibility between science and religion

Professor Joseph Baker, collected data from a 2007 national [USA] survey that showed a relatively small proportion of American adults perceiving incompatibility between science and religion. Those who do are divided evenly into groups privileging science and privileging religion:

Group privileging Science:

Those who viewed science and religion as incompatible while favoring science were demographically similar to those who did not perceive incompatibility. Where these groups differed was in religious identity and practice, as people in the pro-science incompatibility group were less likely to attend religious services, more likely to view the bible as “history and legends,” and more likely to identify as an atheist or agnostic. These individuals had low engagement with institutional religion, and perhaps even antipathy towards it. For this group, incompatibility between science and religion is part of a broader narrative articulating a sym- bolic stand against the perceived politicization and negative social impact of religion.

Group privileging Religion:

In contrast, those perceiving incompatibility and privileging religion were more likely to be of lower socioeconomic status, African-American, and view the bible “literally.” Individuals in these status groups have less access to and engagement with institutional science, especially those of lower SES. For this group, the position of institutional science on issues such as evolution is often taken as hostile to the interpretive stance of literalism. Among people in the pro-religion incompatibility group, roughly two-thirds agreed with another statement in the science battery that read: “Most scientists are hostile to religion.”

Source: Baker, J (2012) Public perceptions of incompatibility between “science and religion”, Public Understanding of  Science, 21(3):340–353


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