Network for the Social Scientific Study of Science and Religion

John H. Evans

Religious Values and Human Enhancement: A Study of Engineers and the Public

The sociological investigation of the relationship between religion and science has recently turned to focus on differential values between religion and science.  This project furthers this development through an examination of the foundational questions – typically expressed in religious language – and the values these questions imply in debates about human enhancement.  The project examines the views of two groups.  First is the public, religious and otherwise, in order to examine the deep value questions that could be in conflict with science.  The second is science – in this case represented by biomedical engineers who would be the ones to actually engage in human enhancement.  A comparison of the two groups will show where there is agreement and where there is conflict on the values implicated in human enhancement.  Methodologically the study will include an in-depth interview study and a nationally representative survey for both groups.  This project will contribute to the sociological analysis of religion and science by being an exemplar for future studies of the details of value conflict.  The study should allow us to see if value differences include scientism, instrumental vs. value rationality, anthropology and many other theorized candidates are indeed driving a difference between religion and science.  The study will also make a substantive contribution to debates about human enhancement by clarifying the often implicit values and implicitly religious views held by both scientists and the public.