Science and religion in 21st century America : a sociological perspective.
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Baker, Joseph O.
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This study addresses empirical gaps and theoretical miscalculations in the understanding of science, religion, and their connections from a sociological perspective. Although this topic has been of great interest to classical and contemporary theorists in the social sciences, and has been examined using institutional approaches, there remains a dearth of empirical assessments addressing these connections. Specifically, this study explores patterns of belief about both science and religion, as well as their intersection, among the contemporary American populace. In addition to advancing the empirical understanding of how science and religion interact in American culture, amendments and clarifications to previous theoretical perspectives on these issues are posited. The 2007 Baylor Religion Survey offers a national, random sample with an extensive selection of quantitative measures of religious attitudes and behaviors, and also includes a battery of questions aimed at assessing American attitudes about mainstream science. Among the topics addressed are acceptance of evolution, support for teaching creationism in public schools, whether science and religion are incompatible, and whether people feel that mainstream scientists are hostile to religious faith. Before delving into the empirical issues at hand, the initial chapter presents an extensive reworking of previous theoretical perspectives employed to understand these issues. The measures of attitudes toward issues involving science then serve as the focus in early substantive chapters. The final chapters outline how views of science and religion are woven into the broader moral and ideological fabric of American culture and suggest future paths of intellectual inquiry.