The Washington Post has a very interesting article (http://www.washingtonpost.com) about "Science vs. Religion". One quote particularly struck me.
Even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves "spiritual." One describes this spiritual atheism as being rooted in "wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence," a sentiment many nonscientists -- religious or not -- would recognize.From the article:
Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund offers a fresh perspective on this debate in "Science vs. Religion." Rather than offering another polemic, she builds on a detailed survey of almost 1,700 scientists at elite American research universities -- the most comprehensive such study to date. These surveys and 275 lengthy follow-up interviews reveal that scientists often practice a closeted faith. They worry how their peers would react to learning about their religious views.
Fully half of these top scientists are religious. Only five of the 275 interviewees actively oppose religion. Even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves "spiritual." One describes this spiritual atheism as being rooted in "wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence," a sentiment many nonscientists -- religious or not -- would recognize.
The article points out that our misconception about scientist may be rooted with certain religious groups -- creationist movements in particular. Creationist attacks on evolution "have polarized the public opinion such that you're either religious or you're a scientist!" a devout physicist complains. Indeed, the National Science Board recently spiked a report on American knowledge about evolution, claiming that it was too difficult to tell the difference between religious objections to evolution and questions raised about the state of the science.
I think Ecklund summed it up best. The bottom line is recognizing and tolerating religious diversity, honestly discussing science's scope and limits, and openly exploring the disputed borders between scientific skepticism and religious faith.