Strongly religious see less conflict between science and religion, survey says

Technically incorrect: A new Pew survey examines the way people view disharmony between religion and science. It shows there's a big difference between how people see their own beliefs and how they view the beliefs of others.

Chris Matyszczyk

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Is it everyone else's beliefs (not yours) that cause science and religion to conflict?

Archdiocese of Milwaukee/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Can two apparently opposed entities be less opposed than they appear?

In recent times, as polarization has felt more fashionable and more secure than compromise or even agreement, science and religion have often been presented as antitheses.

You either believe God made everything or you believe that man will work it all out in the end, even if, in the end, man will actually be a robot.

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, for example, is firm that there is no God. There's already enough evidence, he says, that science is simply more convincing in its explanation of where we all came from. (If not where we're all going to once we're dead.)

The more populist scientist Bill Nye even feels that teaching creationism makes kids less intelligent. Some members of the tech world seem to think it's only a matter of time before we'll be deities. Google's director of engineering Ray Kurzweil, for example, believes that with robots in our brains, "="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="092c85d3-bd3c-4eb5-87b6-6db1b26cd78f" slug="google-exec-with-robots-in-our-brains-well-be-godlike" link-text="we'll be " section="news" title="Google exec: With robots in our brains, we'll be godlike" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"092c85d3-bd3c-4eb5-87b6-6db1b26cd78f","slug":"google-exec-with-robots-in-our-brains-well-be-godlike","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"culture"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Culture","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> "

A new survey, however, offers the suggestion that real people see science and religion with a touch more nuance. Conducted by the Pew Research Center, it asked real human beings how they saw the relationship between God and science.

The majority, 59 percent, said they believed that science and religion are often in conflict. This might conflict with, say, the Catholic Church, which insists that the theory of evolution is valid, but it doesn't mean there's no God.

Still, as Pew's researchers delved into the relationship between people's logic and feelings, they discovered a great influence on people's responses was how religious they are in the first place.

Those who believe deeply don't see science and religion as being mortal enemies. Hispanic Catholics and white evangelical Protestants were the most prominent groups in this camp.

On the other hand, 73 percent of those classified as not religious observers (they don't go to church very often) believe that science and religion are opposing poles.

Pew talked with 2,002 American adults who represent the nation as a whole between August 15, 2014, and August 25, 2014.

But please don't think that consistent clarity emerged from all this. The conclusions here don't support the idea that humans are simple, ordered beings. To humans, what they believe is very different from what they think other people believe.

A mere 30 percent said that their own personal beliefs conflict with those of science. Given that 59 percent believe that religion and science are in conflict, one must conclude that it's everyone else's twisted religious beliefs that are causing the perceived schism.

A similar pattern was seen on the other side too. A total of 76 percent of those who have no religious persuasion said science and religion are often opposed. A puny 16 percent, however, said their own beliefs conflicted with science. You see, it's not your fault. It's someone else's.

It seems, then, that there may be little to argue about. Somewhere, deep in our souls, we realize that no one knows everything and either persuasion could turn out to be right.

Or could it be that the fundamental essence of human life is to believe that I am holier than you are?