Religiously Expressed Fatalism and the Perceived Need for Science and Scientific Process to Empower Agency

By Gary Bailey, Jian Han, Donela Wright and Joseph Graves.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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This study examines relationships among locus of control, God-mediated locus of control, attitudes towards science, and scientific knowledge (evolutionary biology), and demographic markers among students at a Historically Black University (North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University). Studies indicate that African Americans of all socioeconomic groups tend to score higher on fatalism, external locus of control, and religiosity measures than other groups in the United States (Schieman 2006; Krause 2007; Wade 1996; Powe, Daniels, and Finnie 2005). However, the impact of this on African American college students’ attitudes towards evolutionary biology has not been examined. For this study, students’ attitudes toward religious fatalism were determined via the Berrenberg personal control scale (Berrenberg 1987) and correlated with scales of attitudes toward and knowledge of evolutionary biology. The results indicate that student religious fatalism is relatively low while their overall attitudes toward evolutionary biology are negative and general knowledge of evolution is low. The relationship between F1 and F2 personal control subscales and attitude toward, and knowledge of, science is significantly negative, while the positive F3 personal control subscale relationship with attitude towards science is repeated. Interestingly, this group of students displayed a significantly negative relationship between their attitude toward evolutionary science and their knowledge of evolutionary science.
The implications of these data are discussed in the light of modern secularist and postmodern post-secularist theory. These results contribute to the sociological study of African American Millennials, college students, and HBCUs, the role and function of religion in human lives, the role and function of fatalism in human lives, and the predictive power of competing theories of modern culture (modern secularist, postmodern fractural, and social psychological).

Keywords: Religiosity, Fatalism, Evolutionary Science, Historically Black College or Universities (HBCU)

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.55-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 986.181KB).

Dr. Gary Bailey

Assistant Professor, Division of University Studies, The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Greensboro, USA

Gary Bailey is Associate Professor of Practice with appointments in the Classics and Religious Studies Department at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and in the Dean’s office in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CASNR). His background training is in Western and Christian theology and ethics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of culture.

Dr. Jian Han

Lecturer, Division of University Studies, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Jian Han is assistant professor in the Department of Biology in North Carolina A&T State Univeristy. Her background training is in nutrtional biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology.

Donela Wright

Lecturer, Division of University Studies, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Dr. Joseph Graves

Dean, Division of University Studies, and Professor of Biological Sciences, Division of University Studies, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Dr. Joseph Graves, Jr. received his Ph.D. in Environmental, Evolutionary and Systematic Biology from Wayne State University in 1988. In 1994 he was elected Fellow of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS.) His research concerns the evolutionary genetics of postponed aging and biological concepts of race. His books on the biology of race are entitled: The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, Rutgers University Press, 2005 and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America, Dutton Press, 2005. He is a member of the “New Genetics and the African Slave Trade” working group of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute of Harvard University. He is currently serving as chair of the Senior Advisory Board for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) at Duke University and member of the inaugural editorial board of Evolution: Education and Outreach, published by Springer-Verlag.