Christian scientists regarded as 'less intelligent,' study suggests
New research suggests that non-religious scientists have preconceived ideas about their Christian colleagues, leading them to perceive believers as less able to do their jobs.
The study, Public Understanding of Science from Ohio University, suggests many atheist scientists believe that religion and science cannot coexist, creating negative feelings towards Christians working in the field.
Participants in the study were directly asked: “How incompatible vs. compatible do you personally believe science and Christianity are?” and logged their responses on a seven-point scale.
Of the 365 participants, 151 were Christian; the remaining 214 described themselves as non-religious.
However, the stereotypes go both ways; Christians perceive atheists to be less scientifically inclined, and generally less intelligent.
The same pattern emerged amongst non-believers – who perceive a supposed lack of belief in science therefore made Christians less intelligent.
This then spurred negative feelings towards Christians.
However, when given evidence to suggest that Christians can share a belief in science, non-religious participants showed a significantly more positive attitude towards the faith.
Reflecting on the results, Perry Enever, founder of Canterbury Christianity and Science Interactive says that Christians should seek to combat these stereotypes by sharing the truth of their faith.
He said: “One of the things about stereotypes is that it sets you up to disprove it. I think if you can relate to someone and get to know them, they can get to know you.
"There are all kinds of questions and stereotypes and wrong ideas that people have, and Christians can do the same things as well, sometimes.
“The Christians in this were presuming that actually the atheists were less intelligent and less into science. So I think there's a lesson for us as well, to avoid that stereotyping and getting to know the people that are asking the questions.”