For 25 years, the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has fostered communication and engagement about science between scientific and religious communities, recognizing that these often overlap. As a program of a science organization DoSER does not directly engage in theology or weigh in on theological questions. Instead, we create opportunities for engagement among scientists, policymakers, ethicists, theologians, religious leaders, and faith communities around forefront science and society questions.
Our work has been wide-ranging and has involved a wide variety of communities. The Perceptions project convened groups of scientists, science communicators and religious leaders (in particular, Evangelical Christians) to recognize and challenge stereotypes that scientists and members of faith communities have about each other. Among other outcomes, the project resulted in the resource “Same World, Different World Views” which outlines several approaches to the relationship between science and religion, using everyday language to provide a discussion starter that can be used in multiple contexts.
The ongoing Engaging Scientists in the Science and Religion Dialogue project supports scientists and science communicators in culturally and religiously inclusive science engagement, whether in classrooms or in public engagement activities. Among the resources produced by this project are Scientists in Civic Life: Facilitating Dialogue-Based Communication which provides an overview of science communication research, public perceptions of science, and strategies for encouraging fruitful dialogue about science and society, and Profiles of Science Engagement with Faith Communities, a series of interviews with scientists about their engagement activities with religious communities.
The Science for Seminaries project is an ongoing collaboration between AAAS and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to provide future clergy and religious leaders with scientific exposure during their formal education through coursework and regular engagement with scientists. In addition to providing grants to over 30 seminaries, the project produced a series of mini-documentaries, Science: the Wide Angle, with study guides that faith communities and others can use as a basis for beginning conversations about the intersection of science and religion. Related projects in theological engagement include Science in Continuing Education for Pastors, Science Engagement in Rabbinic Training, and DoSER’s partnership with the Scientists in Synagogues program of Sinai and Synapses.
DoSER’s public events, including annual Holiday Lectures and presentations at the AAAS annual meeting highlight the importance of the science and religion dialogue with respect to a diverse range of scientific fields and topics. DoSER has also worked with religion reporters to provide scientific enrichment opportunities and guidance in covering science-related topics.
These are just a few of DoSER’s many success stories. See below for links to more projects that DoSER is doing to advance the science and religion dialogue.