Christian evangelicals: Those knuckle-dragging, anti-science Neaderthals not…


Contrary to the popular caricature that many politicians the mainstream media tout about evangelical Christians—likening them to knuckle-dragging, anti-science Neanderthals—a recent study, “Religious Understandings of Science,” found that ~70% of evangelical Christians believe that religion and science are not in conflict with one another. That is, they believe faith and reason are complementary.


The study, conducted by Rice University Professor of Sociology, Elaine Howard Ecklund, focused upon Christian evangelicals because they constitute approximately 26% of the nation’s population and frequently are depicted as the most hostile body of Christians toward science. About this focus, Ecklund stated:

We really wanted to determine if this claimwas based in any truth. Although many politicians and the media at large portray evangelicals as distrustful of science, we found that this is more myth than reality.

The professor’s findings:

  • 38% of Americans view religion and science as complementary; 35% of Americans view science and religion as entirely independent.
  • 48% of Christian evangelicals view science and religion as complementary; only 21% view them as entirely independent of one another.
  • 15% of Americans and 14% of Christian evangelicals agree that modern science does more harm than good.
  • 76% of scientists in the general U.S. population identify with a religious tradition.
  • Jews (42%), Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus (52% as a group) and the nonreligious (47%) are more interested in new scientific discoveries than evangelicals (22%).

Creationism vs. Evolution

These findings are noteworthy for a couple of reasons.

First: More Christian evangelicals than the population at large believe religion and science are complementary.

Second: The data indicate that fewer Christian evangelicals than the population at large believe religion and science are entirely independent of each other.

Third: It is astounding to learn that 76% of the nation’s scientists identify with a religious tradition and only 24% don’t. If one was to believe media interviews and investigative reports covering matters associated with science, one would mistakenly conclude exactly the opposite was the case.

In sum: The data indicate that the popular caricature touted by politicians and the mainstream media has it backwards. It’s the nation’s population at large that those politicians and the mainstream media should be lampooning, not Christian evangelicals.

But, of course, they can’t do that. Look what happened to Jonathan Gruber. And he was telling the truth!

Or is it that the mainstream media won’t do that? Why so? It’s impossible to assign a motive, but one can surely speculate that doing so furthers a much-cherished agenda: To drive from the public sphere all religious talk and especially the critique faith has to offer as a remedy from a science that is practiced devoid of religion.

Thank goodness, it appears 75% of scientists won’t or don’t do that…despite what the politicians and mainstream media would have people think to the contray.




To read Professor Ecklund’s study, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:


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  1. Good post! I gave it to a Baptist friend who was debating atheists who in turn were asserting that any real scientist must eschew religion.
    By whom has the majority of great artwork been produced. By whom have the majority of magnificent architectural edifices been built? By whom have many of the great compositions of music been written? By whom have the majority of today’s scientific discoveries been made? By Christians and Jews, that’s who!
    And what have atheists contributed? 7 million, maybe 10 million or more murdered under Josef Stalin. Perhaps 60 to 100 million murdered under Mao Tse Tung. And millions more under Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Kim Il Jong and all the rest. Give an atheist power and he murders.
    Murderer – that is who and what an atheist is, for in denying God he makes himself a god, determining right from wrong, life from death. It is the same as it was it the Garden of Eden when Eve partook of the forbidden fruit.

  2. Well, just off the top of my head, and going solely on the title in the link, I’d have to say I agree that we live in an age fraught with bad religion: Malthusianism, Environmentalism, epicurean Hedonism, Narcissism, Caesarism (by which I mean the worship of political personalities).
    It’s the New Paganism.

  3. Having clicked over and seeing that it’s a review of Joseph Bottum’s An Anxious Age, I can say that I’ve read the book and that I recommend it.

  4. 1) Evolution: Deliberate junk science with an insidious agenda.
    2) The confusion is even in the Church and taught. Magisterial pronouncements by Pope Piius XII – Encyclical Humani Generis – and Pope St. John Paul II [the Great] are twisted and misinterpreted. The Church has never said, as is often stated, One is allowed to ‘believe’ in Evolution provided …
    The American Catholic should do a post on Evolution, the science and Evolution and Church teaching.

  5. Oh, good, I was right right off the cuff:

    Bottum asserts that the Poster Children—modern liberals—are in fact quite religious. Their gods are the pantheon of contemporary modern social issues: environmentalism, abortion on demand, redefining and recreating human sexuality, and the like. Their ecclesiology is civic. According to Bottum,

    They are, for the most part, politically liberal, preferring that government rather than private associations (such as intact families or the churches they left behind) address social concerns. They remain puritanical and highly judgmental, at least about health, and like all Puritans they are willing to use law to compel behavior they think right.

    These are the new elites. This is who occupies the public square. How did we go from the Puritans to Poster Children?

    Evangelically presumeably. That is, by spreading the “good news” of social gospel. At least as far as the halls of Congress and the chambers of the Supreme Court. I assume that’s what Pinky was driving at.

  6. Christians are getting better at defending their faith Because of the characterization of their faith as not reasonable. So they study the questions of science and faith as a defense and learn, as they go, the real depth of meaning to be found in the revelations of God’s Word and Tradition. They are delighted to find the real cohesion of science and religion.
    St. Peter said, “… Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,.. 1 Peter 3:15

  7. I wasn’t steering toward anything in particular. To me, the most important idea of the past 1000 years was the complementarity of faith and reason, that paradigm shift of Aquinas that united the natural and the supernatural. Protestantism doesn’t share it – or at a minimum it isn’t in the blood the way it is in Catholicism. Plato, Augustine, and especially Calvin can’t smile at a sunrise the way we can.

    I found that Federalist article interesting because it traced both of the intellectual traditions of the US back to the same movement, a tradition that strongly differed from Catholicism. It interests me to see one group widely miss the mark, and another group narrowly miss it in a different direction. The idea that both misses are caused by the same thing is really fascinating.

    As for how it affects Motley’s article, I’m not sure. I can get how atheists would see faith and reason as incompatible – they almost have to. Do evangelicals see them as somewhat compatible, or completely compatible, or did they just never think through the implications of the relationship between faith and reason? I dunno. There are probably very few places that an American evangelical would feel the need to reject something perceived as scientific. (That’s not the case in Islam, which tends to reject all scientific principles as blasphemies against the omnipotence of God.)

    There’s one other aspect of the science-and-religion issue that rarely gets attention. It’s hinted at in the statistic about interest in scientific discoveries. Evangelicalism has an anti-intellectual bias that encourages personal humility, but also invites the caricature of stupidity. To see this in action you have to go no further than the reaction to Bush’s…eh, you know what, I was going to cite something specific, but I don’t have to. The reaction to Bush in general illustrates the point. It’s long been the case that the right was seen as heartless and the left as clueless; in the modern era, the right doesn’t even get credit for brains. It’s interesting.

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