Article

The Explanatory Power Hypothesis: On Christians' Identification With and Perceived Value of Science

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Abstract

Previous research (Rios et al., 2015) showed that Christians do not tend to identify with science; that is, they reported less interest and perceived ability in science, particularly when they are reminded of the stereotype that Christians perform poorly in science—an effect explained by stereotype threat. In the present study, we propose and test a complimentary explanation for why Christians would not identify with science. The explanatory power hypothesis predicts that Christians’ relatively weaker confidence in science as the way to explain all of reality will account for any negative relationship between Christians and identification with science. We found no consistent evidence that Christians do not identify with science. The relative strength of orthodox Christian beliefs was not related to less identification with science in correlational studies (Studies 1a-1c), but self-categorized Christians identified with science less than self-categorized non-Christians (Studies 2a-2b). We did, however, find consistent evidence that Christians have relatively weaker faith in the scope of scientific explanations. Also, consistent with the explanatory power hypothesis, in cases where Christianity was related to less identification with science, this belief in the explanatory power of science accounted for that relationship (Studies 2a-2b). These findings have implications for a body of literature on ideological influences on the perception of science.

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