Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.


American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Rice University are conducting a major survey of several religious communities regarding their beliefs about science and perceptions of scientists.

A second part of the survey will look at the views held by scientific professionals, specifically about the attitudes of religious people toward science. This project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and seeks to provide the first quantitative data on the underlying assumptions and concerns that shape national attitudes on issues ranging from basic science education to environmental stewardship, according to a newsletter put out by AAAS. Officials said the project fits with the AAAS motto of “Advancing Science, Serving Society,” namely that understanding the interest and concerns of a largely religious public regarding science is crucial to effective engagement.

This major survey project is guided by an expert advisory panel of scientists, religious leaders and survey-research specialists. The nationwide survey will reach 3,000 people, including evangelical Christians, mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. Respondents will be asked questions ranging from their perceptions of the nature of science and scientists to the personal interactions the respondent has had (or maybe never has had) with someone in a technical field.

The results from the survey will serve as the backbone for more informed and effective national science dialogue. Dr. Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist and principal investigator for the Rice University component of the project, will examine how spirituality, religion, and science interact at the individual and congregational levels in the various traditions surveyed. She will also look at how religious leaders address science at the local level.

AAAS will use the survey results as the basis for intense public engagement, through the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program. Scientists and representatives from each of the traditions sampled will begin subsequent dialogue aimed at improving the interface between these communities, informed by knowledge of existing perceptions as revealed by the survey.

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