Religion and science are often perceived to be in conflict. Science is thought to deal with facts and evidence while religion is thought to deal only with faith. This conflict perspective is pervasive in modern society and can manifest itself in many ways. One way it may exert its influence is in the academic decisions made by college students. Students who are less religious may be more likely to choose science majors while those who are more religious may avoid science majors. While research does support this hypothesis in a broad sense, there may be special cases where the impact of the conflict perspective on the academic choices of college students is minimized. One such place may be at overtly religious educational institutions where religious belief permeates all curriculum, including that of science classes. In this study, we used Huber & Huber’s (2010) Centrality of Religiosity Scale to measure the religiosity of theology and biology students (N = 122) at Southern Adventist University, a private religious institution near Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. The goal of this study was to see if the religion/science conflict perspective might be driving educational decisions by looking for differences in religiosity between students in these two disciplines. We found that, though religiosity scores were fairly high for both groups, theology students had higher religiosity scores than did biology students. We also found that theology students tended to maintain high levels of religiosity as age increased, while the religiosity of biology students tended to decrease with age. This implies that the religion-science conflict perspective may drive students’ academic decisions and attitudes even at religious institutions that seek to integrate science and faith.
Shephard, Jonathan; Wilder, Tron; and Corbit, Aaron, "Does devotion to God push you away from science?: Using religiosity to assessing the impact of the religion/science conflict perspective on the choice of academic major among undergraduate students at a religious institution" (2020). Senior Research Projects. 194.