Students' Views on the Relationship between Religion and Science: Analyses of Results from a Comparative Survey. *

By Campbell, Robert A. | The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, August 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Students' Views on the Relationship between Religion and Science: Analyses of Results from a Comparative Survey. *


Campbell, Robert A., The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology


ACADEMIC AND PUBLIC INTEREST in exploring the relationship between religion and science has been growing steadily in recent years, as evidenced by such initiatives as the John M. Templeton Foundation's Religion and Science Course Program (see Wertheim, 1995) and by the publication of numerous popular and scholarly works (see Barbour, 1997; 2000; Davies, 2000; Dembski, 2002; Kurtz, 2003; Padgett, 2003; Peacocke, 2001; Peters and Bennett, 2003; Polkinghorne, 1998; 2002; Pollack, 2000; Richardson and Slack, 2001; Schroeder, 2004; Stahl, Campbell, Petty and Diver, 2002; Stenger, 2002). At least a partial explanation for this increased interest might be that people consider religion and science, and some common element between these two, to be important to them as they go about their daily lives. However, as William Stahl and his collaborators (2002: 2) point out, discussions of the relationship between religion and science have been characterized primarily by theoretical conjecture on scientific matters such as cosmology and evolutionary biology by theologians, and on theological issues such as proving the existence of God by biologists and physicists. Sorely lacking have been an adequate number of empirical studies and reflections by social scientists that could help us to characterize the role that religion and science and the relationship between these two play in the everyday lives of people. The principal objective of this article is to contribute to this goal through the analysis of results from a brief survey conducted among young adults attending two distinctly different Canadian post-secondary educational institutions. I begin with a brief exploration of the theoretical framework of the religion and science debate and a review of some of the empirical studies that have been carried out thus far.

Conceptual and Theoretical Perspectives

A number of models have been suggested to describe the relationship between religion and science, with the most influential being that of Ian Barbour (1997: 77-105), who indicates that the various historical and contemporary perspectives on this issue can be grouped into four distinct, but not necessarily exclusive, categories: conflict, independence, dialogue and integration. The conflict view is associated with scientific materialists like Richard Dawkins (1987) and the proponents of the so-called "new skepticism" (see Kurtz, 2003). As is the case with many items that are considered newsworthy (see Tannen, 1998), media coverage of religion and science tends to focus on controversies between opposing factions on such issues as cloning (see Evans, 2002) and the teaching of evolution in schools (see George, 2001), thus helping to sustain the impression of the dominance of the conflict perspective.

Barbour explains that the notion of the independence of religion and science is related to their distinctive methods of inquiry and their very different use of language, suggesting that there is no adequate basis for discussion between the two. Thus, for example, in 1985, the U.S. National Academy of Science passed a resolution that "religion and science are separate and mutually exclusive realms of human thought whose presentation in the same context leads to misunderstanding of both scientific theory and religious belief" (cited in Sperry, 1991: 241). On the other hand, the dialogue perspective assumes that some amount of common ground can be found as a basis for discussion. In support of this view, Barbour mentions how religion and science are both concerned with providing answers to ultimate questions of meaning and existence.

Finally, Barbour's integration approach is characterized by attempts to treat religion and science together, as in the case of New Age syncretism (see Hanegraaff, 1996). At the base of this approach is some version of the design argument for the existence of God, whereby the intricacy and complexity of nature, as continuously uncovered by science, are seen to point to the existence of an ultimate designer, namely, God.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Students' Views on the Relationship between Religion and Science: Analyses of Results from a Comparative Survey. *
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?