• Question: Is it posibble to be an effective scientist if you are religous?

    Asked by mblow to Dalya, Derek, Sarah, Tim, Tom on 19 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by kiran05138.
    • Photo: Sarah Thomas

      Sarah Thomas answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      I think that religion can cause limitations for scientists and I think that really it depends on the extent of their beliefs and whether they can have an open mind about some things.

      I understand that people with fundamentalist views believe that scientific evidence was “planted” by God to test their faith e.g. dinosaur skeletons etc. And in that case, such extreme views could cloud their judgement and clash very badly with the evidence that is in front of them.

      A lot of people that end up in science have a passion for the natural world and a curiousity and drive for answers, and in general having liberal religious views will not affect that in any way. To be an effective scientist you have to be thorough, hard working, and analytical and believing in god wouldn’t effect that I don’t think.

      I’m not religious so I can’t really say any more but I think the other scis will have some more in depth answers for you. 🙂

    • Photo: Derek McKay-Bukowski

      Derek McKay-Bukowski answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      If there was no overlap in between the two, then it neither would have an effect on the other. This applies for any “beliefs”.

      For example, a chemist can still her or his job regardless of her or his opinion on whether alien life exists. Studying the elements is not affected by a view on whether alien life exists.

      This idea that people can function as both is referred to as dualism.

      However, chances are that you understanding of one would cause you to avoid certain “hard questions” in the other (and vice versa). Whether conscious or sub-conscious, this is a form of denial.

      It is also possible that your course of action or decisions is bent by your beliefs. This is called bias.

      Certainly extreme religious views are likely to hinder your ability to practice as a scientist. But mild or open spiritual beliefs are unlikely to have an affect.

    • Photo: Tim Millar

      Tim Millar answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      Many scientist are able to maintain both belief systems. There may well be conflicts between them but some suggest that being a scientist with faith allows them to explore creation however it was first made.

    • Photo: Dalya Soond

      Dalya Soond answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      Yes. Have you ever heard of someone called Albert Einstein?

    • Photo: Tom Crick

      Tom Crick answered on 19 Jun 2011:

      Possibly! I’m not religious, so I’m probably not the best person to answer this, but I would imagine at some point there may be a clash between your religion and your science depending on a) what type of science you do and b) how religious you are.