A new study, “How UK Scientists Legitimize Religion and Science Through Boundary Work,” published in December issue of the journal Sociology of Religion found that scientists in the United Kingdom tend to maintain the legitimacy of science through “boundary work with religion” and that under certain conditions religion may actually gain legitimacy from these tight boundaries.
Published by Rice University’s Elaine Howard Ecklund, the study drew on the interviews she conducted of 115 UK biologists and physicists between 2011 and 2014. What she found, according to a published abstract of the article, is that when religion violates the tight boundary by making claims that conflict with science — such as creationist claims — scientists consider religion illegitimate and irrational.
She also found that religion is deemed acceptable when it makes claims that are adaptable to science.
The article’s aim is to show how scientists use religion in ways that protect science’s epistemological and institutional authority, according to the abstract.