It’s a common view among the public — and certain intellectuals — that science and religion are in fundamental opposition to each other, despite claims to the contrary. As Richard Dawkins put it in his essay The Great Convergence, “To an honest judge, the alleged convergence between religion and science is a shallow, empty, hollow, spin-doctored sham.”
Part of this conviction that science and religion cannot be reconciled comes down to a belief that the two doctrines are psychologically incompatible. How can someone put their faith in a divine being while also trying to make sense of the world through careful observation and hypothesis testing?
But a new study in Social Psychological and Personality Science casts doubt on the idea that religious people tend to be less scientifically-minded. Jonathon McPhetres from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues find that while the link between religiosity and negative attitudes towards science is pretty robust in the United States, in other countries that relationship is very different.
The team first explored Americans’ religiosity and attitudes towards science across a series of nine studies comprising more than 2,300 participants. Each study used the same measure of religiosity: participants rated themselves on six statements like “I believe in God” or “I consider myself religious”. But the studies varied in their approach to measuring participants’ stance on science. For instance, in some studies participants rated their own interest in scientific topics (e.g. robotics) vs neutral topics (e.g. music), while in others they responded to statements about their attitudes towards science (e.g. “The world is better because of science”).
Read more here.