Monday, April 06, 2015

Problems for Young Adults' Integrating Religion and Science

I’m not one of those people who believes that you can transform every problem into a “challenge” or an “opportunity.” With that in mind, as I think back about my interviews with emerging adults (18-30 years old) for my current research project on science and religion, Science for Students and Emerging Young Adults (or SEYA), I see several problems we have to face. I'll be posting those on this blog in a sort of raw form. So don't be surprised if they feel unfinished, and the incomplete nature of these posts implies that I'd be really interested in your comments.

First, emerging adults sense that religion is against—is at war with—science (and vice versa, to some degree). They may not actually feel it themselves, but they hear it on the news. 

This is one of the biggest problems to face when discussing religion and science with emerging adults. There are certain statements from prestigious organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, which states, “Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.” According the noted researchers Christian Smith and Kyle Longest (behind paywall), 70% of 18-23 year olds “agree” or “strongly agree” that the statement that the teachings of religion and science conflict.  The discussion on the Internet is similarly largely critical and hostile toward religious faith. As one post stated: “The Internet will kill religion.” And another opined: “Jesus will soon go the way of Zeus and Osiris.” And there’s the series of memes like “Let me introduce you to my bronze age sky god.” Another key problem here is that emerging adults don’t seem to be aware of the key voices, such as Francis Collins, which are presenting an integration of these discipline.

Therefore many don’t think the integration of religion and science is possible. 

This point is really a subset of the previous one—many emerging adults don’t see a possibility for bringing the two together. This is fairly close to tautological: if 18-30 year olds don’t see a possibility, one had to overcome inertia for there to be a dialogue.

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