Nearly six in ten adults (59%) say that science and religion are often in conflict, according to newly released findings from a Pew Research Center survey. But of those who attend religious services on a weekly basis, only half share the view that science and religion are frequently in conflict.
Of the country’s major religious groups, Latino Catholics and white evangelical Protestants are especially likely to say science and religion are mostly compatible. White evangelical Protestants also are somewhat more likely than members of other large religious groups to see a conflict between science and their own religious beliefs; 40% of white evangelicals say their personal beliefs sometimes conflict with science, while 57% say they do not.
Generally the share of the public saying that there is a conflict is up modestly from 55% in 2009, when Pew Research last conducted a similar survey on religion and science. A total of 73% of adults who seldom or never attend religious services say that science and religion are often in conflict.
Pew researchers say there are only a handful of areas where people’s religious beliefs and practices have a strong connection to their views about a range of science-related issues.
Statistical modeling shows religious differences in affiliation and worship service attendance come to the fore when the issue is related to human evolution or the creation of the universe.
At the same time, people’s religious differences do not play a central role in explaining their beliefs about a range of other scientific topics, including some in the realm of biomedical issues. The exceptions relate to whether it is appropriate to modify an infant’s genes. Those who attend religious services regularly are more likely than others to say gene modification “takes scientific advances too far.”
Of the 30% minority of those polled who say science conflicts with their own religious beliefs, most mentioned conflict over the creation of the universe, evolution and Darwin. Nearly a quarter of this group also mentioned broad differences over the belief in God, facts vs. beliefs, miracles, and view of man as “in charge.”
On the political front, Americans seem to be divided as to whether the church should make known its views about policy decisions on scientific issues. Half of adult say churches should express their own views, while 46% say these organizations should steer clear of public policy making in relation to science.