Adam names the animals, from the Creationist Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Image: Michael Rivera
Many of America’s cultural battles in recent decades seem to be face-offs between science and faith: over the teaching of evolution, the reality of climate change, the value of stem cell research, the personhood status of an embryo, and the so on. Many on the liberal side of these issues see the controversies as part of a confrontation between ignorance and knowledge. For the more philosophically inclined, it is about a centuries-old tension between faith and the Enlightenment’s assertion of reasoned observation. (Michael Shermer’s “Skeptic” column in Scientific American is largely devoted to this theme.) Recent research suggests, however, a more complex structure behind both these debates and Americans’ views: many of those on the religious side are far from scientific naifs; some are scientifically quite knowledgeable. It is when science directly touches faith that the conflict flares up.
Facts and Faith
A newly published study by sociologists Timothy O’Brien and Shiri Noy (...