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Individual Religiosity and Orientation towards Science: Reformulating Relationships

David R. Johnson, Christopher P. Scheitle, Elaine Howard Ecklund

Sociological Science, March 11, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a7


The religion-science relationship has been the focus of a growing body of research. Such analyses have often suffered from poorly specified concepts related to religion and to science. At the individual level, scholars often assume that an individual’s religiosity will affect her orientation towards science. But an orientation towards science consists of several sub-concepts, each of which may have a unique relationship, or lack thereof, with religiosity. We use observed measures from the 2008 General Social Survey to build latent variables representing science orientation sub-concepts and assess their relationships using structural equation modeling. We find that religiosity has no significant association with interest in or knowledge of science. Religiosity does, however, have a significant negative association with confidence in science. This suggests that the lack of faith in science held by religious individuals is not a product of interest or ignorance, but is instead based on theological or institutional reservations.
David  R. Johnson: Department of Sociology, Rice University. E-mail: drj4@rice.edu

Christopher P. Scheitle: Department of Sociology, St john’s University.  Email: cscheitle@csbsju.edu

Elaine Howard Ecklund: Department of Sociology, Rice University. Email: ehe@rice.edu

  • Citation: Johnson, David R., Christopher P. Scheitle and Elaine Howard Ecklund. 2015. “Individual Religiosity and Orientation towards Science: Reformulating Relationships.” Sociological Science 2: 106-124.
  • Received: November 18, 2014
  • Accepted: December 1, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a7