Religion, Science, and the Enchanted Worldview

The idea of an enchanted worldview has roots in the earliest sociological literature discussing the religion-science relationship. Max Weber argued that one of the primary consequences of science’s success, with its associated “intellectualization and rationalization,” is the weakening or destruction of this enchanted worldview. This concept, though, has received surprisingly little attention in subsequent research. This project will reintroduce the concept of an enchanted worldview into the sociological literature with a specific focus on understanding how this worldview helps us understand individuals’ attitudes and behaviors related to science. We define an enchanted worldview as consisting of beliefs about non-natural beings, forces, or abilities that can alter or affect the physical world and practices meant to engage, suppress, or respond to these beings, forces, or abilities. Given this definition, this project is focused on the following questions: How can we measure an individual’s enchanted worldview using survey items? How do enchanted worldviews affect how people understand or define science? And, to what extent does an enchanted worldview mediate relationships between traditional measures of religion and outcomes related to science? To examine these questions, we will design a survey instrument that will measure variation in the presence and types of enchanted worldviews across individuals alongside measures of the individuals’ attitudes and orientation towards religion, science, and the religion-science relationship. After initial development, pre-testing, and revision, this instrument will be fielded on a probability sample of 2,000 US adults.