The Sciences

Rosenau on Rousing the Silent Middle

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyOct 8, 2009 5:21 PM

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Over at Science&Religion Today, Josh has an important piece about a subject I've also addressed here--how to get moderates more engaged in the science-religion conversation, thus counteracting the tendency of those on the poles, or extremes, to dominate. Here's a snippet:

Especially in contentious debates over science and religion, religious moderates have much to add. When fundamentalists are allowed to stand in for all religious people in discussions with atheists, the conversation falls back into historically naive visions of a war between science and religion (for more on that, see Ron Numbers’ excellent Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion). In discussing topics like evolution, it is too easy for both sides to talk past one another. Scientists often inadvertently ignore the theological concerns of religious nonscientists, while religiously conservative creationists obscure the scientific process by denying any finding that might conflict with their preconceptions of how the Bible should be read. You could easily assume it is an accepted fact that belief in God requires rejecting science and that accepting science means abandoning religious faith.

This situation effectively disenfranchises those in the middle—theists, atheists, agnostics, and others who see no need to set religion and science in opposition. In a survey this summer, 68 percent of white mainline Protestants denied that science conflicts with their religious beliefs, as did 62 percent of black Protestants, 52 percent of Catholics, and 79 percent of those with no religious affiliation. Only among evangelicals did a majority see a conflict, and that majority was a narrow 52 percent. This leaves a sizable fraction of the public that holds, or at least is sympathetic to, a moderate view on these questions, but their voices are too rarely heard in public debates.

You can read the full commentary here

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