March 6, 2000

(RNS) Fifty-one percent of Americans believe there will be a greater agreement between religious and scientific thinking in the next century, a Gallup survey commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation has found.

The survey, released Monday (March 6), also found that 59 percent of Americans believe it is possible to do scientific research on spiritual topics such as love, gratitude and humility. Pollsters also learned that 70 percent of Americans believe we will discover in the next century that we live in a universe with evidence of other kinds of living organisms, either in this galaxy or another.

Sir John Templeton, chairman and founder of the John Templeton Foundation, said the survey shows a changed public attitude regarding how science and religion relate.

"Historically speaking, science and religion have been at opposite sides of the cultural debate, with each side dominating popular belief at one time or another throughout the ages," he said in a statement. "Results of this survey point to a rare breakthrough in the debate -- in essence, a potential cease-fire."

The survey also found that 55 percent of respondents think that increased knowledge of the universe aids them in thinking more deeply about a divine presence.

Survey results also confirmed previous research about the spirituality of Americans. For example, pollsters found that 94.5 percent of those surveyed said they believe in God or a universal spirit and 95 percent believe religious beliefs or spiritual practices are important in their lives.

The survey was based on telephone interviews in February with a national sample of 1,002 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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