So far this week, we’ve discussed the religious beliefs of scientists. The majority of scientists are secular, but a sizable minority profess religious beliefs and identify with established religions. Some are quite outspoken about their faith. But most religious scientists hide, keeping their faith under wraps at work. (Scroll down on the right side for links to our earlier posts this week.)
Today, let’s look at the science vs. religion divide from another angle. What do scientists think about the religious beliefs of Americans who are not scientists? Scientists perceive, accurately, that Americans generally are more religious than scientists, reports Elaine Howard Ecklund in “Science vs. Religion.” But accuracy ends there. For all their scientific acumen and formal education, scientists know little about the true religious beliefs and proclivities of the American people. Even their vocabulary for discussing religion is limited and restricted, Ecklund finds.
Scientists often resort to simple stereotypes when it comes to religion. “They might lump all religion into fundamentalism, or discredit religious claims based on premature assumptions,” says Ecklund. “And because most elite scientists have limited interactions with religious people who share their views about science, the stereotypes persist.”
What this means, in my opinion, is that scientists themselves bear some responsibility for maintaining the science vs. religion divide. More and more, scientists specialize in narrow subfields, working in a bubble that limits knowledge of what other Americans think and believe.
Are you surprised to learn what scientists think about the religious beliefs of Americans?
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(Originally posted in www.OurValues.org)