Print Version    Email to Friend
Do science and religion conflict?

HONG KONG (SE): A majority of people do find that science and religion are basically in conflict, a research study carried out in the United States of America (US) by the Pew Research Centre revealed in October.

However, the study also noted that those who have a strong religious affiliation are far less likely to believe that their own personal beliefs are in conflict with scientific findings, irrespective of their faith expression.

The Pew Research findings show that those who do see conflict, base their observations as much on how they perceive other people’s beliefs as they do on their own.

Less than one-third of those surveyed said that they see any conflict between science and their own personal beliefs.

The percentage of those who have a strong religious affiliation that say there is conflict has dropped significantly over recent years, as has that of the general public. 

Just under half say that the Churches should stay out of policy debates about scientific issues with just over half saying that they should get involved, but of those with no affiliation, most think they should keep out.

The study also discovered that in reality there are only a handful of areas where both the religiously affiliated and unaffiliated believe that religion and science do conflict. These are mostly related to human evolution and whether or not it is appropriate to modify a baby’s genes, with the affiliated more inclined to say the latter is taking science too far.

However, such attitudes are not always based on purely religious perceptions, but political affiliation and ideological divides, as well as educational, generational, gender, race and ethnicity differences.

On the question of off-shore drilling for oil, Evangelicals are more inclined not to see it as problematic, whereas Catholics, Jews, Muslims and mainstream Protestants are more inclined to believe that humankind will be able to stretch natural resources to the point that the growing world population will not be problematic.

The Pew Research Centre is currently pursuing studies on the relevant strength of these several factors on issues connected with both religious belief and scientific knowledge.

It is important to note that few people in the US describe themselves as atheist, with the most common entry in the census being nothing in particular. In the study, unaffiliated only refers to having no relationship with any particular Church grouping or established religion.


More from this section