How should we respond to prejudices about belief?

Reflections on Islamophobia: Still a Challenge for Us All

The publication of The Runnymede Trust’s report Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All in 1997 was a watershed moment in the history of recognising and opposing anti-Muslim prejudice. The first British policy report to focus on the problem of Islamophobia, it is often credited with popularising the term. Last week an updated report, Islamophobia: Still a Challenge for Us All, was released to mark its twentieth anniversary. In this post, Stephen H. Jones offers reflections on the new report’s understanding of Islamophobia utilising research for Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum on non-Muslims’ perceptions of Islam and science. Continue reading How should we respond to prejudices about belief?

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

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

Science and religion conflict for non-religious Britons and Canadians

- See more at: http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/how-liberal-protestants-bought-whites-conflict-thesis-and-lost-their-faith#sthash.CblXXoGX.dpuf

***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

‘How much faith does it take?’ Arguing for Creationism on Facebook

By Dr Stephen Pihlaja

For the last 10 years, I have been studying interactions between Christians and atheists on YouTube and social media, focusing particularly on how they structure arguments and categories to fit very specific social contexts. One recurring issue in my work, and one that seems particularly prescient as we collectively practice saying the words ‘President Tump’, is how arguments about theology and science are often used to reinforce beliefs which a user’s audience might already hold. They need not be logical or fact-based, but they must appear to be delivered by an ally and broadly comport with a viewer’s own belief system.

One social media user, Joshua Feuerstein, provides a particularly good case study of how this operates. He has over 2 million likes on Facebook and holds a set of intersectional beliefs that are not uncommon—the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, the right to bear arms, a small government, and Donald Trump. His videos are portrait—shot on his phone—and feature two minutes of focused and simple sermons meant to be shared for the encouragement of all.

Continue reading ‘How much faith does it take?’ Arguing for Creationism on Facebook

Can creationists be pro-science?

Paolo creation

If someone asked you the question: “What do creationists think about science?” It’d be quite understandable for you to answer: “Well, they must hate it.” After all, we define these people by their rejection of one of the most well-known scientific theories of all time. But beyond evolution itself, how do creationists view science in general? The first problem with answering this question is that it assumes creationists are a monolithic group of like-minded people, who all hold the same beliefs for the same reasons. In recent years, much work has been done to smash this monolith, and to rebuild the pieces into a more nuanced understanding of this group of individuals.

Continue reading Can creationists be pro-science?

What’s the best way to think about creationists?

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What’s the best way for non-creationists to think about creationists?  Some view them, unhelpfully, as inescapably anti-modern, utterly unwilling to face facts.  This unwillingness is often supposed to be linked to religion itself, with religious belief understood as diametrically opposed to the scientific process.  Science, we are told, is about facing facts, being open to correction, being willing to be wrong.  Religion, we are sometimes told, is about none of those things. Continue reading What’s the best way to think about creationists?

What’s in a name? Does Darwin hinder the acceptance of evolution?

Copyright: Charis Tsevis, TIME Inc. 2009. Licensed under the Creative Commons scheme for Non Commercial Use.

For nearly 35 years, Gallup has polled Americans regarding their views on human evolution using a polling question that gives respondents three options to choose from regarding human origins. Surprisingly, the results of the survey question remained relatively steady over time. Since 1982, the percentage of Americans that believe God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years has remained relatively stable at just over 40%. Continue reading What’s in a name? Does Darwin hinder the acceptance of evolution?

What’s behind “no”? Why survey respondents might reject evolution

By Elisa Järnefelt

If a person answers in a survey that they do not accept evolution, it sounds like the simplest and clearest thing. Surely, we can conclude that the person turns their back on evolutionary science as a relevant approach to assess the natural world and thinks that no organisms evolve. Or can we? What if, when answering a question about evolution, the person was not really thinking about evolutionary science, science or even nature? In this territory of ‘Something Else’, what could “no” then mean?

Continue reading What’s behind “no”? Why survey respondents might reject evolution