Network for the Social Scientific Study of Science and Religion

Elaine Howard Ecklund

Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Rice University, researches how individuals in different social domains develop ways of interpreting the world that are at odds with their institutional locations. As part of the Religion among Academic Scientists study, Ecklund examined approaches to religion and spirituality among natural and social scientists at elite universities in the United States and concluded that most of what we believe about the faith lives of scientists is wrong. Different from the cold rationalists the public often imagines them to be, many scientists actively seek sources of spirituality to further explore the purpose of their lives. The results of this study appear in the 2010 book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think. Over the last few years, Ecklund’s research has examined how scientists in eight different national and regional contexts understand religion and ethics. In addition, through a cooperative project with the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program, she studied how six different U.S. religious groups understand science.