It is well-established that science and religion have been presented as two contrasting forces that differ in reasons, explanations and conclusions about the mystery of life.
Ever since Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking thesis about the evolution of the natural world, scientists and believers have debated about the validity of their respective stances. Yet, here is where the problem lies: the tribalistic approach religious extremists and scientific atheists take to paint the opposition as foolish and incompatible, thereby convincing the public to not believe in an intersection between the two concepts.
In a 2019 Pew Research Report, researchers discovered a correlation between science and religion based on the type of questions asked to participants about the origin of humanity.
In a two-question approach, respondents were asked if they believed humans evolved over time. If yes, a branched question was asked if their view was based behind evolution, including the role of God in the process. Over 60% of white evangelical Protestants (66%) and Black Protestants (59%) took a creationists route along with Catholics (29%), while mainline Protestants (11%), unaffiliated adults (13%) and United States adults (31%) agreed with the statement.
In contrast, in a one-question approach, respondents were asked “whether or not human evolution has occurred,” with the process of evolution and the role of God in those processes. Surprisingly, over 60% of all respondents – 61% white evangelical Protestants, 71% Black Protestants, 87% Catholics, 83% white mainline Protestants, 88% unaffiliated adults and 81% U.S. adults – agreed that humans evolved over time with God’s contribution.
The results revealed that at least 50% of all religious respondents believed evolution happened over time with God having a role in the process. This conclusion shows how people can connect evolution and faith based on the phrasing of their statement.
There is no shame in mixing the two ideologies when describing one’s own belief about the matter since a proper blend can be created. However, this issue cannot be solved because of how embedded this battle has become throughout American history and its role with children’s education.
As The National Academics of Science, Engineering and Medicine stated, “Given the importance of science in all aspects of modern life, the science curriculum should not be undermined with nonscientific material,” the organization added. “Teaching creationist ideas in science classes confused what constitutes science and what does not.”
“When it comes to questions about the meaning of life, ways of understanding reality, origins of Earth and how life developed on it, many have seen religion and science as being at odds and even in irreconcilable conflict,” Rice University sociologist Elain Howard Ecklund said.
In their 2011 article from Phys.org, David Ruth and Amy Hodges of Rice University interviewed Ecklund, who surveyed scientists from “21 elite U.S. research universities” about the conflict faith and science create. She discovered “70% believe religion and science are only sometimes in conflict,” with 15% believing that they are always conflicting and another 15% believing they are not. Approximately half of the survey population “expressed some form of religious identity, whereas the other half did not.”
If scientists can admit that faith rarely conflicts with science, then why does conflict continue among some theologians and scientists?
The National Academics of Science, Engineering and Medicine wrote, “Science and religion are based on different human experience[s],” with science based on observations or experiments that provide natural explanations, while religious faith is focused on spiritual welfare for the community centered around supernatural entities.
“In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways,” the authors wrote. “Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.”
Billy Graham, evangelist, author and pastor, said, “The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption.”
Other Christians, like C.S. Lewis, John Scott, Pope Francis, B.B. Warfield and Karl Barth, agree with Graham’s statement that science does not discredit the Bible from its importance to the faith, but an added interpretation of the natural world.