Can Celebrity Scientists Change The Way People Think About Science And Religion?

Does learning about Richard Dawkins, for example, effectively change some people’s minds, leading them to regard science and religion as conflicting approaches where the former invalidates the latter? Or might his perspective sometimes backfire, leading those with strong religious commitments to concede that there’s a conflict, but to opt to resolve it in favor of religion? In a 2017 paper published in the journal Public Understanding of Science, sociologists Christopher Scheitle and Elaine Ecklund decided to find out. They conducted a nationally representative survey of 10,241 adults living within the United States, where respondents were asked to indicate which narrative about the relationship between science and religion best described their view: one of independence, collaboration, or conflict. Those who chose conflict additionally specified whether they were on the side of science or religion.

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