A new report from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life takes a look at what it calls the seemingly "paradoxical" relationship between science and religion. According to the report, many surveys show that Americans respect science and the benefits it brings to our lives. Yet at the same time, many Americans reject certain scientific theories -- especially evolution -- because of strong religious convictions. Does this tension mean that science and religion are necessarily at odds?
Some believe so. Scientists like Richard Dawkins and Steven Weinberg (both in the "Anti-religious Non-accommodationists" of BioLogos' leading figures section) contend that science frees society from the social ills caused by what they call "religious superstitions." Similarly, many creationists believe that any scientific theory contradicting a "natural" or "plain" reading of the English text of the Bible must be rejected. Furthermore, they blame evolution as a root cause for the social ills of society.
Yet others support a harmonious relationship between science and religion. According to the report, "throughout much of ancient and modern human history, religious institutions have actively supported scientific endeavors." Specifically, the report points to scientists like Nicolaus Copernicus and Gregor Mendel, men of the cloth who made major scientific breakthroughs, as well as Sir Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler, who viewed their scientific work as a means to explore God's creation. More recently, scientists like Georges Lemaitre, Max Planck, and Francis Collins have shown that faith and science need not be exclusive.
However, issues like evolution show that there is work to be done to integrate the two sources of knowledge. A May 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Forum, for example, found that only 61% of the general public accepted some form of evolution as the source of life today, compared with 97% of all scientists. Of those 61%, only 22% believed that evolution was guided by a supreme being. Still, as the report concluded, "if the past is any guide, the United States will likely continue to be a nation of both high levels of religious commitment and high regard for scientific achievement." The hope of The BioLogos Foundation is that many will realize these two important aspects of American life need not be at odds or even mutually exclusive, but are entirely compatible.