Published on January 27, 2014
Issues in Science and The Public: Biblical Inerrancy: An Inevitable Barrier to the Public Acceptance of Science Author: Reginald V. Finley Sr. 04/18/2012, Revised 01/27/2014
Introduction Literature in the field tends to lean more on ways to improve the Public Understanding of Science. (PUS) Not so much on the Public Acceptance of Science (PAS) * Major Exception: Evolutionary Biology Why? Other sciences not as threatening to religious sensitivities? Possibly. Students 5-12 are passing tests on evolution. This is great! They are understanding it. But are they accepting it? Science, in General, is accepted by the public, with Exceptions.
Human Evolution Conflicts arise from curriculum discussing Human Evolution. These conflicts interfere with PUS and more so, PAS. Literature will focus on Human Evolution as being a major issue affecting the PUS and PAS.
Understanding, but Not Accepting According to a study by Joseph O. Baker, 2012. 69% of respondents report that they can see compatibility between science and religion. Yet, in a study released by Miller et. al, in 2006, (next slide) shows that Evolution (which is science) is disbelieved by 60% of the American population. Latest Study(ARIS, 2008) shows that 76% of Americans identify as Christian. What conclusions can be drawn from these analyses?
Way at the Bottom. Just above Turkey!
Accepting Evolutionary Science In Joseph Baker's study: If the survey question was worded differently, would it have revealed a different result? EX: “Biological evolution states that humans evolved over millions of years from ape-like ancestors, do you see a conflict between what science presents concerning human origins and your religious faith?” Previous polling data hints that between 60 and 75% of the respondents would answer, yes. Thus, there appears to be a conflict between science and religion.
But is it really religion? Mano Singham argues that the barriers to PUS and PAS are not the theological and scientific issues at hand but rather, they are the public discourses surrounding them. Singham discusses that these may be perhaps differing spheres of knowledge that are being forced to intersect. Elite Religious and The Elite Science Types. Those is the middle are squeezed out of the conversation as the Elites tend to be the loudest. Image Source: Case Western Reserve University: www.case.edu, 2014
Is it Just The Dialogue? John Scopes was convicted in 1925 for teaching evolution. “I actually skipped the part about evolution.” – John Scopes
Darren Sherkat Researcher Darren E. Sherkat (2011) conducted a multivariate analysis on data retrieved from a 2006 General Social Survey (N = 1,780), which included a 13-point examination of scientific facts and reasoning. The data lead him to conclude that those respondents which lean more toward religious fundamentalism/biblical inerrancy, were significantly impacted concerning their level of “basic scientific literacy”.
David Masci, 2007 “When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll. Indeed, in a May 2007 Gallup poll, only 14% of those who say they do not believe in evolution cite lack of evidence as the main reason underpinning their views; more people cite their belief in Jesus (19%), God (16%) or religion generally (16%) as their reason for rejecting Darwin's theory.” (Masci, 2007).
Seeing does not equal believing! In 2008, Dr. Cavallo, and her colleagues published, “Seeing may not mean believing: Examining students' understandings & beliefs in evolution” Her study covered ninth-grade students enrolled into 3 biology classes and collected data concerning their opinions about the nature of science and evolution before and after the course. The results revealed that student beliefs did not change during the course of the instruction.
Why They Are Rejecting? As the 2007 Gallup poll has shown us, 14% of the respondents state that the lack of evidence, is the primary reason that the respondents stated they doubt the veracity of evolution. Creationist websites provide misinformation concerning evolution which may fuel this stance. 64% say evidence is irrelevant anyway. Will re-education even help?
Opinion: The Reward of Heaven? Concept of The Afterlife is strong: Culturally, Personally(Emotionally), Tradition ally, Theologically and even Philosophically. Most Christians can not afford to have anything jeopardize going to Heaven and not being with God. Thus, we clearly see, this is not an issue of reason, logic, and evidence, this is an issue of maintaining the status quo of religious dogma. God cannot be wrong, thus, the science MUST be wrong, ipso facto.
Appealing to the Gut, err Brain? Minsu Ha et al, (2012), published a study in which he delved into cognitive science to discover the roots of why we have so much rejection of evolution. Ha, argues that the studies surrounding this issue all have conflicting data and believes that cognitive science shows us that “feels right” emotions are what drive acceptance of a belief. However, the study did show statistically relevant values that religion and culture do still influence acceptance of evolution as well.
Facing The Facts There doesn't appear to be an easy solution to this problem. Some science does clash with some religious views. This will not change provided the fundamentalist maintains a literal view. Though well intentioned; those groups which seek to appease some religious groups by informing them that there is no conflict, are not really telling the entire story. Based on the scientific data, there appears to be a conflict between science and religion.
Reducing the Threat? Based on the studies presented, it does appear that as long as science is found not to be threatening to particular groups, that science can/will be accepted. Can this be done? Human Evolution is a science that is threatening to religious fundamentalists and even some liberal Christians, as some liberals still accept uncritically the concept of a literal Garden of Eden. Fundamentalism and Biblical inerrancy will always conflict with evolutionary models of human origins. Solution: The perspectives have to change.
Can We Change Their Minds? Should we? Are they really that much a threat to the progress of PAS? Leave them be? It will resolve itself? ID Movement? What can be done? We need religious allies that can help us with PUS and PAS. One such ally: Dr. Kenneth Miller
Dr. Kenneth Miller Miller is a Catholic. Professor of Biology Textbook Author Instrumental in Dover Case Image Source Wikipedia, 2011 Helping squelch the voices of the fundamentalist by showing that one can be a believer and still accept evolution. “I do not believe in a purposefully deceptive God.” - Dr. Ken Miller (In Reference to the overwhelming evidence for Evolution)
Conclusion The PAS appears to be affected at some of our most basic and foundational levels. Though nothing in Biology makes much sense without an understanding of evolution to a Biologist; many people are perfectly fine rejecting it and moving on. This tells us that a new approach must be undertaken if we are gain acceptance of the sciences. The study by Minsu Ha also gives us some insight into what some of those approaches may be.
Conclusion - Solutions Reginald V. Finley Sr, 2011 Science may have to become more theologically and culturally relevant. Science pedagogy may have to be modified to include much more Socratic dialogue rather than rote instruction, so that students can develop that “ah hah” moment themselves and develop “gut” feelings about the science being presented. Science may have to remind the Public that it is humble in its approach to natural discovery.
References Baker, J. O. (2012) Public perceptions of incompatibility between “science and religion”, East Tennessee State University, Retrieved from http://pus.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/02/24/0963662511434908.full.pdf+html Cavallo, A. M. L., & McCall, D. (2008). Seeing may not mean believing: Examining students' understandings & beliefs in evolution. The American Biology Teacher, 70(9), 522–530. Cognitive Dissonance (n.d.) In Wikipedia,Retrieved April 14th, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance Dobzhansky (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 15th, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosius_Dobzhansky Freske S. (1981) Creationist Misunderstanding, Misrepresentation, and Misuse of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Creation Evolution Journal, Vol 2, Issue 2, pp 8-16, Retrieved from http://ncse.com/cej/2/2/creationist-misunderstanding-misrepresentation-misuse-second Ha, M., Haury, D.(2012) Feeling of Certainty: Uncovering a Missing link between knowledge and acceptnce of evolution, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49 (1): 95 DOI:10.1002/tea.20449 Online: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/tea.20449/full Kenneth Miller (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 17th, 2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_R._Miller
References Kizmiller v Dover. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 15th, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District Kosmin, B. A., Keysar, A. (2009) American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA Larson, E., Witham, L. (1999) Scientists and Religion in America, Scientific American, Sept. Issue, p.88 Masci, D. (2007) How the Public Resolves Conflicts Between Faith and Science, Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/How-the-Public-Resolves-Conflicts-Between-Faithand-Science.aspx Miller, et al. (2006) Public Acceptance of Evolution, Science, 11 August 2006, 765-766. DOI:10.1126/science.1126746 Scopes Trial (n.d.) In Wikipedia, Retrieved April 16th, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_evolution_hearings
References FIN Sherkat, D. E. (2011) Religion and Scientific Literacy in the United States, Southern Illinois University, Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00811.x/abstract Singham, M. (2000) The Science and Religion Wars, The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol 81. No. 6, pp. 424-432, Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20439688 Wise, D. (n.d.) Should the scientific community continue to fight rear-guard skirmishes with creationists, or insist that "young-earthers" defend their model in toto, American Scientist, March/April, 1998, vol. 86, n. 2, p. 160-173. http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/wise.htm
END Thank you for Reading and Listening. Learn more about me at: http://www.reginaldfinley.com
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