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% Evangelicals

% Evangelical Scientists

Attend weekly religious services

42.4

54.2

Consider myself very religious

44.1

51.2

Read religious tests weekly

40.5

46.8

Pray several times a day

54.7

55.6

In addition to the survey, the researchers conducted 315 follow-up, in-depth interviews, 142 of which were with evangelicals. The results presented on Sunday were preliminary findings from the analysis of just 6 of the 75 questions on the survey, which also included questions about hot-button issues such as evolution, climate change, and genetic testing for reproduction.

The team plans to analyze the rest of the data in the weeks and months ahead and use the results to determine how much room exists for dialogue exists between scientists and evangelicals to improve understandings on both sides. Although the survey encompasses people of all religious faiths, the AAAS and its Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program are making a strategic decision to focus initial public engagement efforts on evangelical Christians, since they represent such a large segment of the U.S. population (various surveys put evangelicals between about one-quarter and one-third, a bit higher than Ecklund's survey found).

In a presentation following Ecklund's talk, Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said he would like to see scientists and evangelicals talk to each other more, starting with less controversial issues. Scientists and evangelicals largely agree on issues like supporting funding for science, partnering for international development, working for immigration reform, and wanting a cleaner environment, he said.

In order to improve mutual understanding, Carey said evangelicals must strive to listen better, avoid name-calling, and refrain from attacking fellow believers due to their positions on science.

"Sometimes we attack each other more viciously than even people from the outside," Carey said.

AAAS is partnering with the Association of Theological Schools to incorporate science education into seminary classrooms across the country so that future clergy will be better prepared to address questions regarding science, ethics, and religion with their congregations.

As scientists at AAAS gear up to engage in dialogue about science with evangelical Christians, they're hopeful that scientists who are evangelicals will be the ones serving as mediators.

"We ought to maybe think of them as a type of boundary pioneer of sorts, able to live well in both of these worlds," Ecklund said.

Likewise, Carey said he wanted to find out who these 2 million evangelical scientists are and to help equip them with the tools they need to build bridges between evangelical and scientific communities.

The survey data is just the first step toward better communication and collaboration between scientific and evangelical communities, said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion program of the AAAS.

Even if the two sides may never reach agreement on certain issues, the data suggests that many Americans, including both scientists and evangelicals, believe that when it comes to science and religion, each can be used to support the other.

"Radical collaboration is not something that's likely to be a headline," Ecklund said. "But maybe it ought to be."

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