One Nation, United? Science, Religion, and American Public Opinion

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By Shiri Noy and Timothy L. O’Brien

Debates about science and religion—whether they conflict and how they factor into public opinion, policies, and politics—are of longstanding interest to social scientists. Research in this area often examines how those in elite positions use science and religion to justify competing claims. But, more generally how do members of the public incorporate science and religion into their worldviews? Continue reading One Nation, United? Science, Religion, and American Public Opinion

Revelatory Evolution and Cosmological Creation Tales: when science is presented like a religion

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When you sit down to watch a science documentary you’re probably expecting to learn something about science. You might even be hoping to pick up a few facts to impress your colleagues at the office or your friends at the pub. However, along with these nuggets of knowledge, a science programme will also present an image of science. This image is a product of the way science is talked about in the show and suggests something more fundamental about how scientific knowledge is produced and the status or quality of this knowledge. My research has focused on these images or representations of science in non-fiction programmes, and I argue that in some programmes science is presented in a way which makes it look like a religion. Continue reading Revelatory Evolution and Cosmological Creation Tales: when science is presented like a religion

Perpetuating the Myths

Herectics Example - Ben Nadler,Princeton University Press

By Thony Christie

***This post originally appeared on The Renaissance Mathematicus on May 17th, 2017 – for the original click here***

Since the re-emergence of science in Europe in the High Middle Ages down to the present the relationship between science and religion has been a very complex and multifaceted one that cannot be reduced to a simple formula or a handful of clichés. Many of the practitioners, who produced that science, were themselves active servants of their respective churches and many of their colleagues, whilst not clerics, were devoted believers and deeply religious. On the other hand there were those within the various church communities, who were deeply suspicious of or even openly hostile to the newly won scientific knowledge that they saw as a threat to their beliefs. Over the centuries positions changed constantly and oft radically and any historian, who wishes to investigate and understand that relationship at any particular time or in any given period needs to tread very carefully and above all not to approach their research with any preconceived conclusions or laden down with personal prejudices in one direction or another. Continue reading Perpetuating the Myths

Authority, Authenticity, and Belief: British and Canadian life scientists and publics’ narratives of evolution and religion

On Monday 24th April the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society and the team from the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project hosted a one day symposium in central Birmingham. In this video, project member Dr Tom Kaden presents some of the preliminary findings of the qualitative sociological research being undertaken as part of the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project.   Continue reading Authority, Authenticity, and Belief: British and Canadian life scientists and publics’ narratives of evolution and religion

Studying Public Perceptions of Evolution and Religion from a Multidisciplinary Perspective

On Monday 24th April the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society and the team from the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project hosted a one day symposium in central Birmingham. In this video, project Principal Investigator Dr Fern Elsdon-Baker opens the symposium by introducing and contextualising the research being undertaken by the team. Continue reading Studying Public Perceptions of Evolution and Religion from a Multidisciplinary Perspective

Science and religion conflict for non-religious Britons and Canadians

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***This original version of this post was published on the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network website on 6th April 2017*** 

The “conflict thesis” is the label historians of science give to the purported essential and enduring incompatibility or clash between science and religion. However, today this thesis is considered historically inaccurate (Harrison, 2015, Lightman, 2015). So, why then does it persist? This gap between narratives, perceptions, and knowledge was part of the motivation for the current Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project. Given that the US is already the most researched country and a distinctively polarized one in terms of science and religion debates (Baker, 2012, Ecklund and Park, 2009, Evans and Evans, 2008, Evans, 2016, Guhin, 2016, Hill, 2014, Long, 2011, Noy and O’Brien, 2016), we chose to focus upon two cognate and yet contrasting national contexts: Canada and the UK. [1] The multidisciplinary, multi-sited team has been conducting qualitative sociological, historical, psychological, and survey research in both countries. We also decided to concentrate upon the relationship between evolution and religion, because this has become a focal point for wider science and religion debates (Aechtner, 2016). Fern Elsdon-Baker, a philosopher and historian of science, leads the project and her work has already begun to draw out how such a “clash” gets framed (Elsdon-Baker, 2009, Elsdon-Baker, 2015). I work on the qualitative strand of the project, alongside Stephen Jones and Tom Kaden.

Here I draw upon initial findings from some of the project’s sociological research to illustrate the observation that non-religious people in Canada and the UK appear to be the most likely to perceive a necessary clash between science and religion. Stephen and Tom have conducted semi-structured interviews (123 total) and focus groups (15 total) with scientifically literate publics and life scientists in the UK and Canada, sampled purposively in order to gain a balance in terms of gender, as well as a range of religious identities, geographic locations within both countries, ethnic backgrounds, and age groups. The sample includes 25 ‘non-religious’ scientists and 31 ‘non-religious’ members of the public. [2] Continue reading Science and religion conflict for non-religious Britons and Canadians

Australian neo-Pentecostal perspectives on anthropogenic climate change

By Mairead Shanahan

As the seriousness of the human impact on a changing global climate becomes evident, many religious movements are developing theological responses to such ecological issues. As one of the fastest growing Christian denominations on the globe, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are now formulating theological positions on anthropogenic climate change. Australian neo-Pentecostal churches such as Hillsong, C3 Church, Planetshakers and Influencers Church, are part of this global Pentecostal Charismatic movement. These Christian churches emphasise receipt of spiritual gifts as evidence of salvation; blessings can take the form of glossolalia (speaking in tongues), healing and prophesy interpretation. Continue reading Australian neo-Pentecostal perspectives on anthropogenic climate change

Fake news, media framing, and the case of Pope Francis’ ‘shocking’ comments on evolution

If you can believe what you read, “FAKE NEWS” is everywhere these days. Shot onto the media scene like a lexical gag, the phrase was fired from the mouth of President Donald J. Trump as he confronted CNN reporter Jim Acosta during the then president-elect’s first press conference. Although the words are much older, Trump has certainly made the capitalisation his own. “FAKE NEWS!” The phrase itself comes stinking of Orwell’s ink, and when levelled it splits the media between those who goodthink and crimethink—between those who carry the party line, and those who don’t. However, this post isn’t concerned with presidential duckspeak, but rather the shape of the messages themselves—fake or not—which we receive via the media. Continue reading Fake news, media framing, and the case of Pope Francis’ ‘shocking’ comments on evolution

Podcast: Religion, Science and Evolutionary Theory

***This podcast first appeared on The Religious Studies Project on 30 January 2017***

Science and evolution in Muslim societies is a complicated topic. Among members of the public, what does evolution mean? Is there one ‘Muslim view’ on evolution, or are there a great variety of views on evolution in Muslim majority contexts?

In this podcast for The Religious Studies Project SRES’s Dr Stephen Jones interviews Dr Salman Hameed about recent research on Muslim perceptions of science and evolution.
Continue reading Podcast: Religion, Science and Evolutionary Theory

Spiritualism, religion and mathematics in the Victorian period

Late nineteenth-century British culture was somewhat preoccupied with the presence of ghosts. Conjuring spirits at séances was a popular pastime, with the exploits of some spiritualists, such as the medium Henry Slade, the fodder of press gossip and celebrity. Communicating with spirits became of deep interest to some scientists, including the physicist William Crookes and the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who debated their peers about aberrant physical phenomena and whether certain observations confirmed the reality of spirits or not. Continue reading Spiritualism, religion and mathematics in the Victorian period