Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs

By Guillermo Paz-y-Mino-C and Avelina Espinosa.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Published online: May 14, 2015 Free Download

The incompatibility between science and the belief in supernatural causation helps us understand why people do not accept evolution. Belief disrupts, distorts, delays, or stops (3Ds + S) the acceptance of scientific evidence. Here we examine the evolution controversy under three predictions of the incompatibility hypothesis. First, chronological-conflict-and-accommodation, which explains the historical re-emergence of antagonism between evolution and religion when advances in science continue to threaten the belief in supernatural causation; in such situations, creationists’ rejection of and subsequent partial acceptance of the new scientific discoveries are expected. Second, change in evolution’s acceptance is a function of educational attainment, which explains the positive association between acceptance of evolution and level of education. And third, change in evolution’s acceptance is a function of religiosity, which explains the negative association between acceptance of evolution and level of religious beliefs. We rely on an ample assessment of the attitudes toward evolution by highly-educated audiences (i.e. research faculty, educators of prospective teachers, and college students in the United States) to characterize the associations among the understanding of science and evolution, personal religious convictions, and conservative ideology. We emphasize that harmonious coexistence between science and religion is illusory. If co-persisting in society, their relationship will fluctuate from moderate to intense antagonism.

Keywords: Creationism, Evolution Wars, Evolutionary Creation, Incompatibility Hypothesis,, Intelligent Design, Theistic Evolution

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 7, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 14, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.594MB)).

Guillermo Paz-y-Mino-C

Co-director, New England Center for the Public Understanding of Science, and New England Science Public, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA

Avelina Espinosa

Associate Professor, Co-Director, New England Center for the Public Understanding of Science and New England Science Public, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA