Science-religion compatibility beliefs across Middle Eastern and American young adult samples: The role of cross-cultural exposure

Kimberly Rios, Mark Aveyard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research shows that people in predominantly Christian cultures tend to perceive a basic tension between science and religion, which is not reflected in predominantly Muslim cultures. In this cross-cultural study comparing Christian university students in the United States and Muslim university students in the United Arab Emirates, we examined time spent in Western countries (for UAE students) or overseas (for American students) as predictors of perceived religion-science compatibility. Drawing upon the notion that science is viewed as more secular in Christianity than in Islam, we hypothesized and found that among UAE students, number of weeks per year spent in the West correlated negatively with religion-science compatibility beliefs. This relationship held even when controlling for science knowledge, suggesting that it results not from epistemological opposition to science but from an increasing exposure to the idea that science should be seen as a secular institution. Among American students, number of weeks per year spent overseas and religion-science compatibility beliefs were not associated. Implications for perceptions of science among different religious groups and in different cultural contexts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-957
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Volume28
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • conflict narrative
  • cross-cultural research
  • religion-science compatibility
  • science and religion
  • science attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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