Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moving beyond the polarization between sciences and religions

Science & Religion Today published a recent write-up by sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, a professor and associate director of the Center on Race, Religion, and Urban Life at Rice University. Here are some of the good points she made:

On relating religion with sciences:
"We need “radical dialogue,” when scientists and people of faith become truly open to learning from one another. Such radical dialogue would never have convinced Jerry Falwell and it won’t convince Richard Dawkins. But my research shows that most religious people do not take after Falwell, and most scientists are not like Dawkins."

Her survey results:
"From 2005 to 2008, I completed the most comprehensive study to date of what natural and social scientists think about religion. I surveyed nearly 1,700 scientists and conducted in-depth interviews with 275 of them... almost 50 percent identify with a religious label and about one in five is actively involved in a house of worship, attending services more than once a month."

Actions religious people may want to consider:
"How might religious leaders utilize the scientists in their midst? It would help for them to better mentor and involve scientists within their faith communities, which in turn would help religious leaders to better integrate science within their houses of worship. Faith leaders might also provide scientists with a forum for discussing the connections between their faith lives and their work lives, and they might invite scientists to be teachers in adult religion classes or take on other prominent roles within their places of worship. Scientists must not be required to leave behind their professional identities and ideas when they come to the altar."

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