Science and religion

I posted an entry this week over at Qideas about science and evangelical religion. Columnists are hyperventilating at what they perceive to be the anti-intellectualism of the Republican candidates, and more than a few are drawing conclusions about evangelicals from what they hear. But survey data on attitudes toward science among evangelicals are more encouraging, and show that they more faithfully Christians actually practice their religion (for example by reading the Bible!), the more sympathetic they feel toward science and its findings.

One study showing that religiosity leads to harmony between science and religion comes from Baylor University, where researcher Aaron Franzen finds that increased frequency of Bible reading is tied to, among other things, improved attitudes toward science. “Respondents were 22 percent less likely to view religion and science as incompatible at each step toward more frequent Bible reading,” according to David Briggs, who reported the Baylor study for Association of Religion Data Archives. (Interestingly, higher rates of Bible reading were also correlated with greater support for social and economic justice, simple lifestyles, humane treatment of criminals, and with lower support for abortion, same-sex unions, the death penalty, and the expansion of the war on terrorism.)

Interesting this week that the Obama administration was derided for giving in to “anti-science” pressure when it blocked over-the-counter access to the “morning after” pill for minors. Those pundits are willfully ignorant about what is science and what is morality, thinking that measurements of a drug’s effectiveness ought somehow to determine whether a minor should be able to access it without adult guidance or parental input. The same goes for claims that opposition to fetal stem cell research is somehow anti-scientific. One can certainly accept that experimenting on human embryos may lead to advances in scientific knowledge, while at the same time affirming that it is entirely immoral to conduct such research.