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March 31, 2010: News, Research & Events from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
Baker Institute Update: Ecklund

What scientists really think about religion

Scientists may often seem hostile to religion, but the reality is more nuanced. In the most comprehensive study to date of what natural and social scientists think about religion, Elaine Howard Ecklund, a Rice scholar at the Baker Institute and an assistant professor of sociology at Rice University, found that nearly 50 percent of the scientists surveyed are part of a religious community. However, "scientists with faith are hesitant to discuss scientific ideas because they are afraid of offending those sitting in the pews next to them," she writes in the Baker Institute blog. "This reticence results in a lack of role models for youth who might want to go into science but are fearful that science might lead them away from faith."

Ecklund advocates a dialogue — not just friendly co-existence between science and religion, but a real effort to understand why the other thinks the way it does and find common ground. What better place to start than in Houston, where some of the largest congregations in the country are located, and in Texas, where school boards are debating what to teach about evolution? On Wednesday, April 7, the Baker Institute will host a discussion using Ecklund's four-year study, recently published in the book "Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think."

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The James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy is a nonpartisan public policy think tank located on the campus of Rice University in Houston, Texas. The institute's distinguished fellows and scholars research and collaborate with experts from academia, government, the media, business and private organizations on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy.
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