A new study by the Pew Center reveals that atheists are far more likely to see a conflict between faith and science than religious believers.
The report states that 73% of those who seldom or never attend religious services say that science and religion are often in conflict, while those who attend services at least once a week are 23% less likely to say so.
Among the unaffiliated—a group that includes atheists, agnostics, and those who belong to no religion in particular—the numbers are even higher. More than three quarters (76%) of the unaffiliated say that science and religion are often in conflict.
The study further shows that people’s beliefs regarding a conflict between science and religion reflect their perception of other people’s conflicts rather than their own. Less than one-third of Americans polled (30%) say that their personal religious beliefs conflict with science, yet nearly double this number (59%) say that science and religion are often in conflict.
More than two-thirds of those surveyed (68%) say there is no conflict between their own beliefs and science.
In only five years, the percentage of American adults who perceive a conflict between science and their own religious beliefs has declined by a full six percentage points, from 36% in 2009 to 30% in 2014.
The study also found that in comparison with the religiously unaffiliated, religious people are more likely to favor more offshore drilling, to approve of fracking, to oppose stricter emission controls on power plants and to be unafraid of world population growth.
For example, a full 70% of white evangelical Protestants favor allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling, whereas among the religiously unaffiliated the number is about half that (37%).
Similarly, about 64% of the religiously unaffiliated oppose increased use of fracking to extract oil and natural gas, while only 35% of white evangelicals oppose it.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome