‘Science and Religion’: Moving away from the shallow end
This report is the culmination of a three–year project researching public and elite attitudes to science and religion in the UK today (2022)
New research has found Gen Z (57%) are more likely to think religion has a place in the modern world than any other generation, whilst having a better understanding and greater acceptance of science. This compares to less than half of Millennials (47%) and Gen X (47%). The data also revealed that 37% of Gen Z think science and religion are compatible, compared with only 30% of the British public and 26% of Gen Xers.
The think tank Theos has analysed data provided by YouGov also found that amongst Gen Z:
More than two thirds (64%) agree that it is possible to believe in God and evolution – at least 10% more than any other age group.
68% believe that you can be religious and be a good scientist – 10% more than any other age group.
79% agree that there is strong and reliable evidence for the theory of evolution and 83% are confident they understood it – more than any other age group.
Nearly a quarter (24%) disagree that science is the only way of getting reliable getting knowledge about the world – more than the other generations
Over two thirds (62%) disagree that religion has nothing helpful to say about ethics – significantly higher than Millennials (53%), Gen X (45%) and Boomers (53%).
More (44%) disagree that science will be able to explain everything one day – more than other generations
The findings are part of a new report from Theos and The Faraday Institute investigating the science and religion debate in the UK today which also included interviews with leading scientists and philosophers, including Brian Cox, Susan Greenfield, Adam Rutherford, and A.C. Grayling.
The report found that the majority – 57% of the general population – still think that science and religion are incompatible. This view, however, seems to be a reaction to the words “science” and “religion”. Antagonism is dramatically reduced when people are asked about specific disciplines like cosmology or psychology (as opposed to “science”) or about specific religions like Christianity or Islam (as opposed to “religion”).
The majority (68%) of Gen Z respondents believe that you could be religious and be a good scientist – at least 10% more than any other age group.
Moreover, a high proportion of both religious and non–religious across the generations agree with scientific theories. For example, 74% of people agree there is “strong, reliable evidence to support the theory of evolution”, compared with 6% who disagree. The majority (64%) of Gen Z thought it was possible to believe in both evolution and God.
Chris Done, Professor of Astrophysics and Theoretical Physics (University of Durham) says “I think the study shows most that there is much less of a conflict for anyone who has had to think a bit about it, whether they be a practicing scientist or a practicing member of a faith community. the idea of a problem comes more from those who aren’t either, who have just picked up the cultural zeitgeist.”
Nick Spencer, Senior Fellow at Theos says “Our research revealed that the debate between science and religion has been distorted by being viewed through a few narrow lenses – such as evolution vs creation(ism) or the Big Bang vs God. There is a far richer conversation to be had and our interviews with experts and with the general public, particularly younger people, suggests that we are moving in the right direction.”
The report ‘Science and Religion: Moving away from the shallow end’ has been produced from a YouGov survey of 5000 adults along with over 100 in–depth expert interviews.
To find out more about the findings of the report visit: https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/science-and-religion
For further information (interviews, images or additional quotes), please contact Catherine Goodier via
e: email@example.com , t: +44 7874 864056
Notes to Editors
Please find the data tables for the generational statistics linked here.
Please find the data tables for the full report linked here.
Theos has analysed data supplied by YouGov. The total sample size was 5,153 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th May – 13th June 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Gen Z: 9–24 (16–24 in the data)
Gen X: 41–56
Theos is the UK’s leading religion and society think tank. It has a broad Christian basis and exists to enrich the debate about faith and society.
About The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion
The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion is a Cambridge–based interdisciplinary research institute improving public understanding of religious beliefs in relation to the sciences. Its main focus is on the relationship between science and the Christian faith, but it also engages with those of any faith or none.
The mission of The Faraday Institute is to shed new light on life’s big questions through academically rigorous research in the field of science and religion; to provide life–changing resources for those with interests in science and faith through research dissemination, education and training; and, to catalyse a change in attitude towards science and faith, through outreach to schools, colleges, the scientific community, religious institutions and the general public.
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The Theos Team
Posted 24 May 2022
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Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.