Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts

Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think

You hear a lot these days about science and religion. Most anti-religious folk claim that science undermines or even contradicts religious faith. As evidence for this claim (which, by the way, is not scientific, but philosophical), they point to the “fact” that very few scientists are religious.

Now we can get the facts about science and religion, at least the facts about what scientists actually believe. Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist at Rice University, has recently published a book with the intriguing title: Science Vs. Religion What Scientists Really Think. It was published last year by Oxford University Press. Science vs. Religion is the result of extensive research conducted by Ecklund over many years. I read this book, finding it full of information and insights, as well as delightfully readable. I learned a lot from this book, mostly, that the whole issue of “Science vs. Religion” is much more nuanced than many assume. Scientists are much more open to religion that we might expect. Moreover, those scientists who reject religion rarely do so as a direct result of their scientific studies. (Photo: Ecklund and Michael Cromartie, host of the Faith Angle Forum.)



I highly recommend Ecklund’s book. But if you don’t have time for a two-hundred plus page book, there is another option for you. Ecklund delivered a lecture in November, in which she summarized her major findings and answered questions as well. This happened in the context of the Faith Angle Forum, a semi-annual event sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center. This gathering brings together some of the top religion journalists from the country, including most major news sources (NY Times, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox News, NPR, etc.). They hear presentations from leading thinkers whose work bears upon religious issues. 


I was pleased to be present for this event as an observer. I heard Ecklund’s lecture after having read her book. Not surprisingly, she provides an excellent summary of her material. (Ecklund, an outstanding academic scholar, also has the ability to community with ordinary folk.) Now a transcript of this lecture is available online at the Ethics and Public Policy Center website.  You may also want to read the response to this lecture by Barbara Bradley Haggerty of NPR. It’s included after Ecklund’s lecture.

I am encouraged by the Faith Angle Forum and by the work of Ecklund. The FAF offers a place for influential journalists to consider religious issues openly and seriously. It helps to raised the quality of religion reporting in major media outlets. Ecklund’s work is bringing clarity to a cloudy issue. She is able to deal with the science vs. religion debate in a calm, irenic, and knowledgeable way. Kudos to Michael Cromartie and Elaine Howard Ecklund for this excellent contribution to civil discourse and a respectful search for truth.  


  • S Richardson

    Yikes! It took me all day to read the transcript. What is a person without a PhD behind their name to do?

  • Thomas E. Buck

    It took me several days to read this. Very interesting. I enjoyed reading about the study on free will and studies about how the brain can change.
    I had to laugh at the note at the end of the transcript about it being edited. As it was, much of the discourse was rambling and vague, making it difficult for this layman hard to read.
    It was a good thing I decided to read it to the end. Some of my early assumptions about one of the participants were proven inaccurate by later discourse.
    In the future I will try to pay more attention to the prejudicial attitude I may bring to a conversation about scientists, or academia in general. I don’t want to be pushing people away from the church because of poor assumptions.

  • Thomas E. Buck

    Sorry, should have read “…making it difficult for this layman to read.”

  • John

    I visited the site and this spiritual teacher is taking on the science community. He’s says that he can cure diseased cells and transform them into healthy ones. The scientists that take on his project are of the top in the world and they don’t know how he does it but can only go stand by the fact that after his energy transmissions, the cells have been transformed. In total there has been over 3,000 scientific experiments on his energy transmissions with amazing results.

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