Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think

By Elaine Howard Ecklund | Go to book overview
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Chapter 1

1. I have chosen two women and one man to represent the different approaches scientists have to matters of faith. The reader should not infer from this that women are overrepresented among scientists at elite universities. The demographics table included in Appendix A shows that women are vastly underrepresented in the natural and social science departments at these elite universities.

2. See Peter Machamer, The Cambridge Companion to Galileo. This volume contains a special focus on Galileo’s relationship to the church. In addition, Maurice A. Finocchiaro persuasively dispels the misconception that Galileo was incarcerated and tortured for his scientific work. See Finocchiaro, “Myth 8.” It should be noted here that Richard J. Blackwell has argued that this view is an “oversimplified and false view… [when] the church had understandable reasons for refusing to reinterpret the Bible in Galileo’s favor” (Ferngren, Science and Religion, 105). There is a growing literature that challenges the conflict narrative. See, for example, Giberson and Artigas, Oracles of Science, Evans and Evans, “Religion and Science,” and Collins, The Language of God.

3. It’s important to remember that White was in favor of what he saw as “rational religion” and against “revealed religion.” White spoke in positive terms about religion as he defined it. See White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. See also Noll, “Science, Religion, and A. D. White.”

4. See a short history of Cornell University at See White, ibid.

5. Leuba, “Religious Beliefs of American Scientists,” 300.

6. His seminal work was Leuba, The Belief in God and Immortality. See the following for a replication of his work many years later: Larson and Witham, “Scientists Are Still Keeping the Faith” and “Leading Scientists Still Reject God.” Other research also examines the religiosity of scientists compared to the general public, revealing that scientists are generally less religious (when examining traditional indicators of religion) than are other Americans. See, for example, Stark, “On the Incompatibility of Religion and Science.” Stark has since recanted this earlier work, arguing that some forms of religion have been particularly supportive of the development of science. See Stark, For the Glory of God.


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