How can I get involved in the science/religion dialogue?

Science and religion are often portrayed as opposites, so it can feel daunting to begin engaging in this tricky space. But if you’re here, you also recognize the importance of engaging at this intersection! Don’t worry, it’s not actually as scary as it seems!

Science, Ethics, & Religion 101

The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program has hosted events, run workshops, and created a variety of resources that provide examples of best practices on how to engage at the intersection of science and religion. The most important thing to remember is that those with different beliefs than you are not as different from you as you might expect! We are all someone’s family member, friend, colleague. Whether it’s the food we eat, the buildings where we live and work, or the technology used to read this webpage, science affects our daily lives. And we all consider the ethical implications of our actions and in scientific findings when we ask question such as, “is there life on other plants, and what does that mean for our place in the universe?” “Are there better and faster ways to warn people about incoming natural disasters?” And, “in a global pandemic, once a cure is found, who should receive it first?”

After you’ve taken the leap to begin your first conversation, DoSER recommends three key practices for engagement. First, be human. As mentioned above, most people have something in common. Find a shared value, concern, or common ground that can allow you to connect and start the conversation. Second, listen and be willing to participate in a dialogue. Reflect critically on what they say. Who knows, you might learn something as well! Finally, be respectful. Even if you disagree with what the other person is saying, try to understand where they are coming from rather than seeking to simply change their mind.

Even if you disagree with what the other person is saying, try to understand where they are coming from rather than seeking to simply change their mind.

In the DoSER resource center, you will find videos, syllabi, and articles on engagement at the intersection of science and religion from many scientific and religious perspectives. Many of these resources focus on specific topics, such as “Of Minds and Machines: What AI Tells Us About Ourselves” and “Science and Religion Can Work Together to Boost Mental Health Outcomes.” Others are more general, such as the Science: The Wide Angle film series, which features scientists and religious leaders discussing forefront science topics.

We also have resources for people who want to engage with scientists or religious communities but are unsure how to get started. In a series of profiles, we interviewed scientists and science communicators about their engagement activities with religious communities. A 2018 booklet, Scientists in Civic Life: Facilitating Dialogue-Based Communication, discusses effective strategies for constructive public engagement. We also have a number of resources that focus on engagement with commonly underrepresented communities, such as “Politics of Collaborative Research with Indigenous Communities” and “Healthcare in Minority Communities.” Visit our resources page for even more tips and materials!

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