American Sociological Association

Biblical Literalism Influences Perceptions of History as a Scientific Discipline

Recent work on religious conservatives frequently finds biblical literalism to have a negative influence on individuals’ attitudes toward science. We present a science-related issue for which biblical literalism seems, at least on the surface, to have a more positive influence. Specifically, individuals expressing a literalist view of the Bible are more likely than those who view the Bible as a book of fables to say that the field of history is scientific. This pattern remains even after accounting for a variety of other measures of individuals’ religion, scientific attitudes, and demographics. We discuss this pattern in the context of historical and contemporary connections between the Bible, history, and science among those coming from a literalist worldview.

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Kathleen C. Oberlin and Christopher P. Scheitle