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‘Science and Religion’: Moving away from the shallow end

‘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)

“‘Science and Religion’ is a lot like a swimming pool. All the noise is up at the shallow end.”

We have got ‘science and religion’ all wrong – or at least out of proportion.

For too long, the conversation has fixed on a limited number of (scientific) topics – evolution, Big Bang, neuroscience – and often on the loudest voices there. The result has frequently turned conversation into debate, and debate into argument. One of the consequences of this is that when you ask people about the relationship between ‘science and religion’, opinions are largely negative.

However, when you ask the same people about specific sciences and religion, or about science and specific religions, their views are more complicated. And when you look at expert scientific and philosophical opinion on the matter – even among the non–religious people and atheists – views are not only more nuanced but also more positive. In short, the ‘science and religion’ conversation is needlessly shallow and needlessly noisy.

This ground–breaking report draws on a three–year project in which the researchers conducted over a hundred in–depth interviews with leading academics and science communicators, and commissioned a

YouGov public opinion poll of over 5,000 UK adults. It outlines the conversation around ‘science and religion’, and shows what it isn’t, what it is, and what it could be.

You can read the Exec summary here. 

To read the Science and Religion Questionnaire click here. 

To view the data tables click here.

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Image by Emily Downe

Nick Spencer

Nick Spencer

Nick is Senior Fellow at Theos. He is the author of a number of books and reports, including Magisteria: the entangled histories of science and religion (Oneworld, 2023), The Political Samaritan: how power hijacked a parable (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Evolution of the West (SPCK, 2016) and Atheists: The Origin of the Species (Bloomsbury, 2014). He is host of the podcast Reading Our Times.

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