62% believe “science can give answers to all the big problems of the 21st century” but 51% do not see a conflict with religion.
A survey in four European countries has shown that most citizens trust in science as a motor for “material progress, wellbeing and the improvement of health”.
“Scientists are, next to doctors, the professional group that enjoys the highest social trust”, found the research conducted by the BBVA Foundation in Germany, UK, France and Spain. 1,500 interviews were made in each country.
Half of the surveyed in 2022 said scientic affairs appeared often in their daily conversations. Albert Einstein was by far the most mentioned scientist by the surveyed, but others like Marie Curie, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin were also among the most well-known.
“Current students, the youngest, and the most educated are those with the highest levels of scientific knowledge”, the study says, but “80% considers that the validity of a theory is relative, i.e. a theory that is currently considered to be true may no longer be true in the future”.
According to the survey, 62% tend to agree with the affirmation that “science can give answers to all the big problems of the 21st century” and another 76% agrees that science “continually improves the health of people”.
Asked about the Covid-19 vaccines, 66% agree that these are “secure and effective”, in contrast with 19% who disagree.
In general terms, people in Spain had a more positive view about the future of science, in contrast with Germany and France. Also, younger people tended to trust more in the “promises” of science (56%) whereas older people tended to have more “reservations” (39%).
The survey also asked about the risks of scientific advances. 37% tend to agree with the idea that “science and technology increase the risk of a world war”. But 65% disagree with the idea that “we would be better off if we lived without so much science and technology”.
About half of respondents tended to agree with the idea that “scientific theories nowadays are under too much influence of politics” (5.6/10).
Germans were those who had a most positive view of their country’s contribution to scientific progress (83%), followed by Brits (72%), the French (69%) and Spaniards (53%).
Advances in solar energy, in biotechnology and internet communications are among the most valued contributions of science (all with an approval over 70% in all four countries) whereas the changes in big data (31%) and nuclear energy (45%) were the less appreciated.
The survey conducted in these four European countries also asked about religion.
Those surveyed expressed low trust in religion (3.4 in a scale from 1 to 10), compared to medicine (8.1), technology (6.9) or the law and the state (6.2).
90% of the surveyed in Spain said they agreed with the idea that “human beings evolved from earlier animal species”. The percentage of those believing in the evolution theory fell to 78% in Germany, 77% in the UK and 74% in France.
In Germany, 21% agree that “God created human beings more or less in their present form”, followed by France (19%) and the UK (18%), a percentage that falls to 9% in Spain.
72% of the surveyed say there should be “ethical boundaries” to scientific advances.
The research also shows that there is a clear disagreement about the relationship between science and religion. 42% in the four countries tend to say they can “coexist without problems” while 39% disagrees. Those more positive about the relationship were found in France and the United Kingdom (44% and 45%) and those more negative in Spain (35%).
One in three agreed with the idea that “science destroys religious beliefs”, a majority of 51% disagreed.
[title]Another survey about science and religion
In December 2022, another recent survey asking about the relationship between science and religion was made public.
The Theos think tank research concluded that 57% of people in the UK believe science and religion are “incompatible” but 64% think that “there are some things that science will never be able to explain”.
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