The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Two million Evangelical scientists in the U.S.

Are science and Christianity incompatible? If you asked this question to any one of the millions of Christians who work as scientists in the United States, the answer would be a confident “No.”

From Christianity Today — Study: 2 Million U.S. Scientists Identify As Evangelical. Here are some excerpts:

The media often portrays scientists and Christians as incapable of peaceful coexistence. But results from a recent survey suggest the two are not as incompatible as one might think. In fact, 2 million out of nearly 12 million scientists are evangelical Christians. If you were to bring all the evangelical scientists together, they could populate the city of Houston, Texas.

Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and her colleagues at Rice University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reported results from the largest study of American views on science and religion at the association’s annual conference in Chicago on Sunday, February 16.

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Ecklund first became interested in studying religious people’s perceptions of science after a conversation one Sunday morning at a church in Upstate New York. She was attending the church as part of a research study she was conducting for her master’s thesis on religion and family life. Upon learning Ecklund attended Cornell University, a woman told her she hoped her daughter would not decide to go there.

And why not?

“She said, ‘I’m really scared that when she gets onto campus, that she’ll take science classes,” and the atheist scientists will convince her to abandon her faith, Ecklund recalled.

At that moment, Ecklund decided that at some point in her career, she would conduct a large study to determine if this view is typical of evangelicals—and whether members of other religious groups feel the same way.

This is not her first research study on people’s perceptions of science and religion. In her 2010 book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Believe, Ecklund surveyed 1,700 natural and social scientists at top universities and found that only about two percent identify as evangelical.

This new survey, by contrast, focused on “rank and file” scientists, including those in health care, life sciences, computers, and engineering.

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In order to improve mutual understanding, [National Association of Evangelicals vice president] Carey said evangelicals must strive to listen better, avoid name-calling, and refrain from attacking fellow believers due to their positions on science.

“Sometimes we attack each other more viciously than even people from the outside,” Carey said.

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As scientists at AAAS gear up to engage in dialogue about science with evangelical Christians, they’re hopeful that scientists who are evangelicals will be the ones serving as mediators.

“We ought to maybe think of them as a type of boundary pioneer of sorts, able to live well in both of these worlds,” Ecklund said.

Grace and Peace

February 21, 2014 - Posted by | Christianity | ,

5 Comments »

  1. The problem comes when some of these, wearing the label of scientist, speak outside their area of expertise to declare the findings of geology and biology incorrect for religious reasons. Hopefully those evangelicals that accept science will stand up to them publicly and remind them that they are speaking outside their discipline.

    Comment by Lisa Keith-Lucas | February 22, 2014

  2. Lisa — I speak outside of my area of expertise at times, and sometimes I do so for “religious” reasons.

    I would say the same thing is true of someone like Richard Dawkins. He speaks on scientific issues outside of his area of expertise, and I would say that he often does so for very “religious” reasons.

    Comment by geochristian | February 22, 2014

  3. Naw. There are not two million scientists on the planet. They call everyone a scientist after a degree they get at 21.
    The only people who can claim to be scientists are people trying to figure out something not already known. Figure it out or debunk someone else figured it out.
    Its not people gathering minor data in some company.
    I suspect there is not in America even 50000 scientists today.
    However YEC thinkers are scientists.

    Comment by Robert Byers | February 23, 2014

  4. Robert – I was agreeing with you until your last sentence. Your last sentence suggests that you think this is all some kind of game.

    Comment by tkhelble | February 25, 2014

  5. I am dumbfounded. Byers said something that is true. He is right, that this survey includes some completely absurd numbers. They have to have included everyone in health care, all engineers, and probably everyone who ever passed a college science course as a “scientist.” If their numbers were true almost a tenth of the workforce would be scientists. A government page I looked out threw a pretty wide net on people in science and only got 1.3 million total. The number of people doing real research on scientific, not engineering, IT or manufacturing, problems is probably no more than 200,000 in the U.S. And sorry, YEC “scientists” are not among them. They are self-deluded ideologues, using whatever degree they got to prop up an unsupportable view. For a much more accurate breakdown of beliefs of people in science look at http://biologos.org/uploads/static-content/infographic_scientists_full.jpg One of the most interesting (and depressing) things about this chart is that evangelicals go into science at a rate 7x lower than the general population (and 28x times lower than Jews!)

    Comment by PNG | March 26, 2014


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