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Sociologist: Religion and science not in conflict – except when they are

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In “Scientists Negotiate Boundaries Between Religion and Science,” sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund informs us that

only 15 percent of those surveyed view religion and science as always in conflict. Another 15 percent say the two are never in conflict, and 70 percent believe religion and science are only sometimes in conflict. Approximately half of the original survey population expressed some form of religious identity, whereas the other half did not. (9/20/2011)

The “sometimes in conflict” majority probably have the soundest approach in this case. Consider the questions “what science?” and “whose religion?” Is the science Marxism (“scientific socialism”)? Eugenics? Evolutionary psychology? Is the religion Wahhabi Islam? Rastafarianism? Michael Dowd’s evolutionary Christianity? Not much room for disagreement, is there?

Generally conflict appears at cultural flashpoints. People who want to get their hands on live humans who have no rights, for life-terminating research, haven’t a good word to say about the “anti-science” Catholic Church. Please God they never will.


Scientists as a whole are substantially different from the American public in how they view teaching “intelligent design” in public schools. Nearly all of the scientists – religious and nonreligious alike – have a negative impression of the theory of intelligent design.

Which they almost certainly did not get from reading The Nature of Nature or Edge of Evolution. In her next survey, Ecklund should ask what they actually know about it.

While we’re here, why is it “science” to believe that the space aliens Really Are Out There? But “not science” to accept the evidence of limited telepathy effects, demonstrated in lab studies? There is a whole range of nonsense around space aliens, the origin of life, and  “scientific”  psychology that is classified as science, but doesn’t belong in the same bin as cell biology or high temperature physics, or anywhere near it. In other words, that’s another issue that clouds the picture.

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