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Epistemological and Moral Conflict Between Religion and Science

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Debates about religion and educational attainment often assume that members of certain religious groups do not seek out knowledge of science because they are opposed to the use of the scientific method. Using the science module of the 2006 General Social Survey, the analysis indicates that no religious group differs from the nonreligious comparison group in its propensity to seek out scientific knowledge. A more subtle epistemological conflict may arise when scientists make claims that explicitly contradict theological accounts. Findings indicate that Protestants and Catholics differ from the comparison group only on the very few issues where religion and science make competing claims. A third possible source of conflict may not be epistemological, but rather derives from opposition to what is understood as the public moral agenda of scientists. Findings indicate that conservative Protestants are opposed to scientific influence in public affairs due to opposition to the scientists’ moral agenda.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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