Belief in God, Belief in Science
Exploring the Psychological Correlates of Scientific Fundamentalism as Implicit Religion
Keywords:implicit religion, belief in science, psychology of religion, scientific fundamentalism, self-esteem, empathy
Bailey’s notion of implicit religion suggests that in contemporary societies the functions served by formal or explicit religions may be assumed by other systems of beliefs. The present paper tests this thesis in respect of the effect of an exaggerated, uncritical, and unqualified belief in the inerrancy of science, which we label “scientific fundamentalism,” among a sample of 11,809 thirteen- to fifteen-year-old students drawn from the four nations of the UK. Previously established research has shown that, after controlling for personal and psychological factors, explicit religion has a positive effect on both self-esteem and empathy. These established findings have been confirmed in the present study employing the Astley- Francis Scale of Attitude toward Theistic Faith as a measure of explicit religion. Moreover, the new data also demonstrate that scientific fundamentalism conceptualised as implicit religion has a positive effect on both self-esteem and empathy, although this effect is somewhat smaller. These new data provide some support for Bailey’s conceptualisation of implicit religion by indicating that scientific fundamentalism is functioning in relation to self-esteem and empathy in a similar way as explicit religion.
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