Initial Findings From the RUS Study at AAAS

AAAS 2014 Annual MeetingYesterday at the AAAS meeting in Chicago, sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund presented some initial results from her “Religious Understandings of Science” study. RUS is a nationally representative survey of more than 10,000 Americans (with an over-sampling of scientists) designed to explore three questions: What do religious people (especially evangelicals) think about science, what do rank-and-file scientists think about religion, and where might there be room for dialogue?

The study just closed two weeks, so the results are very fresh, and Ecklund said she had time to analyze only six of the survey’s approximately 75 questions before the meeting. But here are some of her initial findings:

• 15 percent of scientists consider themselves very religious—compared with 19 percent of the general population, and 44 percent of evangelicals.

• Almost 60 percent of evangelicals and 38 percent of the general population believe “scientists should be open to considering miracles in their theories or explanations.”

• 27 percent of Americans feel that science and religion are in conflict—and of this group, 52 percent side with religion.

• Close to 30 percent of evangelicals see a conflict between science and religion, and see themselves on the side of religion.

• Nearly 20 percent of Americans perceive religion as hostile to science, while about 22 percent think scientists are hostile toward religion.

• Evangelicals are twice as likely as those in the general population to consult a religious text or a religious leader when they have a question about science—but they’re as likely as the general public to consult a scientist (though that number is low at only 14 percent).

• 48 percent of evangelicals support that idea that science and religion can work in collaboration—compared with 40 percent of scientists and 38 percent of Americans overall. Among evangelical scientists specifically, however, that number rises to 73 percent.

The survey also revealed that “scientists who identify as evangelical are more religious than regular American evangelicals who are not in science,” Ecklund points out in a news release. “Evangelical scientists feel that they’ve been put under pressure or they find themselves in what they view to be more hostile environments. They potentially see themselves as more religious because they’re seeing the contrast between the two groups all the time.”

Stay tuned for more on this study as we have time to dive deeper into the results and Ecklund has the chance to analyze more of the survey questions.

Category: Findings

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3 Responses

  1. Jose Duarte says:

    This article and its siblings at a lot of science divulgation on-line magazines, appeared as A REACTION to the sadness and unrest that caused in the Biblical Flock of US that all the world is laughing at them, since last friday 14, because of their incredible lack of intelligence in Science (they think that the Sun orbits the Earth, because this it is what the Bible says).

    The most formidable of all organized religions is trying to promote the message that these biblical fanatic folks shouldn´t be sad because some scientists use to go to some church from now and then.

    Well, don´t be so happy, FLOCK. Some scientific guys go to religious services because they don´t want to upset their wifes or their family. Not everybody in the family born with the same facility towards reason, unfortunately. Others go because they don´t have dared to apply the scientific method, in which they are trained, to religious matters.

  2. Jose Duarte says:

    Science or Reason can destroy RELIGION. Let me show you.

    1- God has no chromosomes, then it is absurd that somebody was the son of God and a woman. Note: It should be very different to be “Son” than to be another more of the “creatures” !

    2- Moses didn´t verify what God told him, because it was impossible to him. And even today, for us, with all our Science, we would not able to verify that a particular God that Says that He created or designed the Universe would not be lying. Think, and probably you will agree.

    3- Camels didn´t werent domesticated in the times of Abraham and the Bible said the contrary. The Noah Ark story is older then the Jews history, the Earth has billions of age, there is nothing at the heavens, other then gases, dust and the ocasional cosmic rays, then there is not Jesus there, and the New Testament says that Jesus is there in body to the right of som God able to sit and with finite volume. Etc etc.

    For more, google: analysis exorcisms ammons

  3. Anton says:

    See the published source material (http://elainehowardecklund.blogs.rice.edu/files/2014/02/RU_AAASPresentationNotes_2014_0220.pdf). In my assessment, the authors biased this study beyond credibility. As such, the results have little scientific merit.

    The authors claim to access the religious feelings of scientists et al. But their working definition of a “scientist” is anyone who answers “yes” to the question, “Would you say that your current occupation is science-related?”, has a bachelor’s degree, and works in an author-selected group of occupational fields, which includes architects, engineers, physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, nurses and other health care practitioners, x-ray technicians, etc. These folks may have significant skills and serve valuable functions but would you consider them scientists?

    I propose the results would have been very different had they selected respondents based on a question like, “Would you say that you practice science in your current occupation?”. It seems disingenuous of them to imply that their “scientist” group is actually composed of scientists. I doubt many of them would self-identify as such.

    Nonetheless, the popular press gets the results before the methods, analysis and conclusions have been peer reviewed. This quickly leads to headlines like, “Study: 2 Million U.S. Scientists Identify As Evangelical” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/february-web-only/study-2-million-scientists-identify-as-evangelical.html).

    Thousands of people will pick up and obsess on these headlines as they did Wakefield’s discredited study proposing a link between vaccination and autism. I know many scientists find this upsetting – I certainly do.

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