A newly released global survey from the Wellcome Trust found that, among individuals with a religious affiliation, more than half — specifically, 55% — would say there is a disagreement between science and their religion.
The non-profit surveyed 140,000 people in over 140 countries and found that 90% identified with a specific faith. Of this religious group, nearly 30% say that science has at some point disagreed with their religious teachings.
Dividing the field regionally, Wellcome’s Global Monitor survey found that those who say that science has disagreed with their religious teachings most often are from the US or Southern Europe.
Overall among those who say religion is an important part of their daily life, a majority or 64% say that when there is a disagreement they believe religion over science.
The poll, conducted by the Gallup organization, also looked at income levels in countries and whether that played a role in the trust level in science.
Researchers found that North America is the only high-income region in which people who say they have a religion are substantially more likely to say they believe their religion’s teachings over science, in cases of disagreement. This finding is driven predominantly by the US, where people who have a religion are almost twice as likely to believe their religious teachings (60%) as science (32%) in cases of disagreement.
In other geographic results, researchers found that younger people in Northern Europe are least likely to say they believe science – though 15-to-29-year-olds in this region are among the least likely people to say they identify with a specific religion.
In other regions, including Southern Africa, Southern and Eastern Europe as well as Central America and Mexico, younger people are more inclined than their elders to believe science when it differs from their religious teachings.
Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.