A new study that 2 million of the nation's 12 million scientists identify as evangelical Christians. In other words, if you were to convene all the evangelical scientists, they could populate the city of Houston.
The finding is the first to be made public from the largest study of American views on science and religion, which sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and her colleagues at Rice University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) wrapped up in early 2014. Seventeen percent of scientists said "evangelical" describes them "somewhat" or "very well," compared to 23 percent of all respondents.
It's a dramatically higher percentage than found in Ecklund's 2010 survey of scientists at top universities: only about 2 percent identified as evangelical. The new survey, by contrast, focused on "rank and file" scientists, including those in health care, life sciences, computers, and engineering.
The new survey also found that the same number of people in the general public perceive hostility by religious people toward science as perceive hostility by scientists toward religion—about 1 in 5. But among evangelical scientists, a strong majority (57 percent) perceive hostility from scientists toward religion. That suggests Christians in scientific fields have negative experiences with fellow scientists in the workplace regarding their faith.
Evangelical scientists are more active in their faith than American evangelicals in general, the survey indicates. They are more likely to consider themselves very religious, to attend religious services weekly, and to read religious texts at least every week.
As scientists at AAAS plan to engage more evangelical Christians—the group has new initiatives with both the National Association of Evangelicals and the Association of Theological Schools—they're hopeful that scientists who are evangelicals will serve as mediators.
"We ought to maybe think of them as a type of boundary pioneer of sorts, able to live well in both worlds," Ecklund said. "Radical collaboration is not something that's likely to be a headline, but maybe it ought to be."
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