Some faiths more likely to turn to religion for answers to science

When it comes to seeking answers to questions about science, evangelical and black Protestants and Mormons are more likely than the general population to turn to religion, according to a new study by researchers from Rice University's Religion and Public Life Program, the University of Nevada-Reno and West Virginia University.

Thestudy, which is slated to appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Public Understanding of Science, is the first to measure whether people would actively consult a religious authority or source of information with a question about , said lead researcher Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, a professor of sociology at Rice and director of Rice's Religion and Public Life Program.

"Our findings suggest that religion does not necessarily push individuals away from science sources, but religion might lead people to turn to religious sources in addition to scientific sources," Ecklund said.

The study, "Scientists and Religious Leaders Compete for Cultural Authority of Science," is based on a survey of 10,241 Americans who provided information about their confidence and interest in science, their religious characteristics and their political ideology. The sample included a wide range of people, including all religious groups as well as the nonreligious.

"People have many places to look for scientific news and information: the internet, books or documentaries by science popularizers, museums or social media," Ecklund said. "But there is good reason to believe some look beyond scientific sources of information when arise about science. Some segments of the public, for example, are skeptical of the scientific community when it comes to topics like climate change, evolution or vaccines."

Ecklund and colleagues found that the general survey population was more likely to consult a scientific source than a religious source when seeking answers to scientific questions. This was also true when the researchers looked at mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians. For evangelical Protestants, black Protestants and Mormons, however, the gap between the likelihood of consulting a scientific source or a religious source was narrower.

While 16 percent of all survey respondents said they would be somewhat or very likely to consult a religious leader for answers to their science questions, this number jumps to 29 percent when just looking at evangelical Protestants or black Protestants and 25 percent when looking at Mormons. Similarly, 31 percent of evangelical Protestants, 30 percent of black Protestants and 31 percent of Mormons said they would be somewhat or very likely to consult a religious text for answers to scientific questions, compared with 18 percent of overall respondents. When asked whether they would be somewhat or very likely to consult people at their congregation about such questions, 27 percent of evangelicals, 26 percent of black Protestants and 31 percent of Mormons said yes, compared with 16 percent of overall surveyed respondents.

When asked about their views on consulting scientific sources, 37 percent of those surveyed said they would be somewhat or very likely to consult a book written by a Ph.D. scientist for answers to their questions, compared with 34 percent of evangelical Protestants, 39 percent of black Protestants and 46 percent of Mormons. And 53 percent of the general surveyed population said they would be somewhat or very likely to consult a scientific magazine, compared with 50 percent of evangelical Protestants, 52 percent of black Protestants and 66 percent of Mormons. Finally, 49 percent of all survey respondents said they would be somewhat or very likely to speak with a person working in a scientific occupation, compared with 46 percent of evangelical Protestants, 43 percent of black Protestants and 55 percent of Mormons.

The authors said the research provides helpful implications and insights for science communication.

"In order to reach the large swath of the U.S. population who are religious, scientists and science communicators should be targeting religious leaders and communities," Ecklund said. "If are indeed already being approached with questions about science, it's possible they simply need the information in hand in order to translate accurate scientific information to the public or to connect religious people with scientists themselves."


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Misconceptions of science and religion found in new study

More information: Public Understanding of Science (2017). DOI: 10.1177/0963662517718145 , http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0963662517718145
Journal information: Public Understanding of Science

Provided by Rice University
Citation: Some faiths more likely to turn to religion for answers to science (2017, October 16) retrieved 19 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-10-faiths-religion-science.html
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Oct 16, 2017
Leaders turned to science because science was more successful in producing technologies they could use to defend their cities.

Praying couldnt keep the saracens and the mongols from their gates. Hence the Enlightenment.

Kind of embarrassing really.

I mean, where would jesus be if everyone who believed in him were dead?

Oct 16, 2017
This is like asking paleontology to provide answers to questions in statistics. Major category error. Religion bases its "answers" on emotion; these "answers" cannot apply in science. People judge religion on whether it makes them comfortable; this is not something that hard science even accepts as a judgment criterion.

Science doesn't care if you're comfortable with the answers. Get over it.

Oct 17, 2017
Aaaaand queue the religion-bashers who know next to nothing about religion, religious experience, faith, or why and what people believe.

The survey is interesting because the results for Mormons appear to be contradictory. They are more likely to consult religious leaders and peers in their religious community and search religious books with questions about science than the general population AND they are more likely to consult books written by a PhD in a field, a scientific magazine or a scientist than the general population. In other words, they are more likely than others to search for answers from both religious and scientific sources. It sounds like they're more likely to question than the general population and are more open-minded. I wonder why that is. Is it their religion or is it a characteristic of the people attracted to their religion?

Oct 17, 2017
The survey is interesting because the results for Mormons appear to be contradictory. They are more likely to consult religious leaders and peers in their religious community and search religious books with questions about science than the general population AND
AND so they are much more likely to get the wrong answers.

Consult real archeologists on answers to the riddle of those Egyptian funerary pics in the Gospel of Abraham, where Joseph Smith removed the animal god heads and replaced them with saint heads.

They can't tell you why, only what. Anyone with half a brain can tell you why.

Sucker born every minute.

But even they can't tell why there are so many supremely gullible people in the world. Riddle of the sphinx.
I mean, where would jesus be if everyone who believed in him were dead?
-Kind of puts a new spin on that whole eternal life thing doesnt it?

Oct 17, 2017
This is like asking paleontology to provide answers to questions in statistics
No, it is like asking god to provide answers to questions in paleontology and statistics.

You do see the difference dont you?

And since paleontology and statistics has already proven that the god of Abraham doesnt exist, the effort is doubly ridiculous.

What shocks me is Mr. Ecklund's conclusion from this study. Trying to feed deeply believing and thus delusional religious leaders with facts from reality, for what purpose? To allow them selectively picking what suits for perpetuating their distorted preaching of irrationality? My conclusion is rather to use science for zooming in on the logical fallacies that all religions are committing, this in order to increase the chances of humans getting out of their mental prison of belief in weird fairytales, that holds them back in their developmental potential.

Oct 21, 2017
@assdad thinks atheists don't know anything because they haven't read the Babble by the drunken and drug fuddled Stone Age sheep herders about the super magic daddy in the sky.

And makes up stories about open minded religionists who still vote not to teach Darwin in school.

What a maroon.

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