Why engage with religious communities about science?

Most people on earth, including many scientists, claim a religious affiliation. Scientists seeking to foster genuinely inclusive discourse about science and society issues should be prepared to engage respectfully and constructively with people of faith!

National polling finds that most people in the US are broadly supportive of funding scientific research, are interested in advances in science and technology, and believe advances in science benefit humanity. However, science is a process with a social, cultural, and historical context. Many people are concerned about the economic and social impacts of scientific and technological advances and how they will be applied. Advances in genetics and gene-editing, new developments in artificial intelligence, and decision making in relation to topics such as climate change, space exploration, and investment in education will all have profound impacts on people’s lives.

Most people in the US and worldwide are religious, including many scientists. Religion, as a central element of culture and identity, informs many peoples’ views on science and technology topics. If the process and outcomes of science are to be responsive to societal concerns and priorities and to truly serve all people, scientists must be prepared to engage in thoughtful, equitable and impactful dialogue with other segments of society, including policymakers, community leaders, and diverse publics.  This includes the religious communities and institutions that so many people of the world are a part of.

In support of AAAS’ mission to advance science for the benefit of all people, the DoSER program fosters religiously and culturally inclusive engagement about science and technology. This includes collaborative projects with seminaries, synagogues and other religious institutions, with university communities, with scientists and science communicators, with journalists, and diverse communities across the US and beyond.

Critically, as part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the DoSER program does not take a position on theological questions or interpretations of religious scriptures. Questions about if and how religious/spiritual beliefs are compatible, complimentary or conflicting with current scientific knowledge or understanding is a question for faith communities and individuals to answer for themselves. Our role is as a facilitator and a convener. We connect individuals, institutions and communities with each other around topics of mutual interest; provide opportunities for constructive dialogue and mutual learning among scientists, philosophers, ethicists, religious leaders, community representatives, policymakers and others; and ensure that scientific concepts and ideas are presented accurately and appropriately.

The work strongly aligns with other programs within the Center for Science, Policy and Society Programs at AAAS, in particular the Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology (PES) and the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and the Law (SRHRL) program.

Keep reading

Perceptions Project

Perceptions Project

DoSER partnered with researchers at Rice University to investigate more deeply the relationship between science and Evangelical Christianity and to…

Learn More
Profiles Spotlight Researchers Engaging with Religious Communities
  • Article
  • 4 minute read

Profiles Spotlight Researchers Engaging with Religious Communities

  • Adam D. Cohen

AAAS has launched a new series profiling scientists who have forged meaningful relationships with religious communities.

Engaging Scientists

Engaging Scientists

Regardless of whether they spend their days in the classroom or at a lab bench, scientists interact with the public…

Learn More

Other Common Questions