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Science is one of God's great gifts. So, it struck a positive chord with many Americans when Barack Obama said in his inauguration speech, "We will restore science to its rightful place."

Over the past month, the "rightful place" of science and its relationship to religion and ethics has been in the news. Old debates over evolution flared up on Charles Darwin's birthday, in-vitro fertilization provoked death threats against Nadya Suleman, the new mother of octuplets, and politicians debated how drug-effectiveness research affects patients. And today, as Obama changes the federal government's policy on taxpayer funding of embryonic research (something this magazine strongly opposes), articles pitting science against religion are legion.

Science is the most helpful to society — or, in Obama's words, "in its rightful place" — when it is shaped by ethics and responsive to criticism. Then it's shaped by the higher goal of human dignity, and, from the Christian perspective, gives glory to God.

Evangelicals often find themselves questioning majority opinion on current scientific issues, such as embryonic stem-cell research (40 percent of evangelicals oppose it, according to ABC News/Beliefnet), evolution (65 percent of evangelicals disbelieve it, according to Pew Research Center), and global warming (31 percent of evangelicals remain unconvinced that the earth's temperature has been rising, according to Pew). This questioning is grounded sometimes in fact and sometimes in worldview. It's the worldview that makes many nervous. National Public Radio science reporter Robert Krulwich, like many, believes religion and science are in a Darwinian struggle. In a speech he called "Tell Me A Story," he says, "Science stories … ...

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