A look in the mirror from across the globe: What we learned about science and religion in the US by studying scientists in other countries. (A look behind the scenes of Elaine Howard Ecklund’s new book, Secularity and Science)
the US is an anomaly. Or stated differently: the conflict narrative we find here is not inevitable.
This seems to be the gist of the matter. It isn’t necessary. It is toxic for believers, contributing to loss of faith among the young.
Most scientists around the world, including in highly secular contexts such as France and the UK, view the relationship between these two spheres as one of independence or collaboration.
But I believe it is even true among the majority of atheist and agnostic scientists in the U.S. (though I can’t now locate the quote), that they don’t view science as being necessarily in conflict with faith.
…it seems to be that a particularly US-based form of Christianity produces some conflict between scientists and members of the religious public.
…in contrast to the other countries we studied, the cultural context of science and religion in the US is one characterized by misperceptions on both sides. The media plays a key role in this, taking real but infrequent controversies over evolution and portraying them as routine or representative of most religious people (and of all evangelical Christians in particular).
It certainly does seem advantageous for the faithful to disentangle from theological commitments regarding matters best left to science.
Add to that some outsized voices of celebrity scientists who personally think science and religion are in conflict, and we have a recipe for misperception and caricatures, which are widely circulated through New York Times best-selling books.
Exhibit 1: Lawrence Krauss