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Science and Religion Do Mix?

Only 15 Percent of Scientists at Major Research Universities See Religion and Science Always in Conflict

Throughout history, science and religion have appeared as being in perpetual conflict, but a new study by Rice University suggests that only a minority of scientists at major research universities see religion and science as requiring distinct boundaries.

“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,” said Rice sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund. But a majority of scientists interviewed by Ecklund and colleagues viewed both religion and science as “valid avenues of knowledge” that can bring broader understanding to important questions, she said.

Ecklund summarized her findings in “Scientists Negotiate Boundaries Between Religion and Science,” which appears in the September issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Her co-authors were sociologists Jerry Park of Baylor University and Katherine Sorrell, a former postbaccalaureate fellow at Rice and current Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame.

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