Announcing my Next Point of Inquiry Guest: Elaine Ecklund

By Chris Mooney | May 1, 2010 11:05 am

Ecklund(1)For my next show, I’m going to be interviewing Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund about her new book, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think. After merely mentioning this book’s existence drew over 180 comments on the blog recently, I get the feeling that really digesting Ecklund’s findings will make for quite a show.

It is worth noting that this will be the first time a Point of Inquiry show that I’ve done has gotten into the hotly contested subject of science and religion. My own views on this topic are widely known, have been widely aired and debated, and also sometimes criticized. See, e.g., my POI episode with D.J. Grothe about Unscientific America.

In that show I was the guest; but now I’m in the host’s shoes at Point of Inquiry, and my goals and responsibilities are very different. Rather than advancing a particular view, my objective will be to include a diversity of voices on science and religion–starting with Ecklund, but extending to include a range of perspectives as I do more shows in the future. That includes interviewing “New Atheists” like Vic Stenger and others.

With that said, then, I’m encouraging folks to submit questions for Dr. Ecklund, either here on the blog or over at the Point of Inquiry forums. I’m interviewing her on Monday, so you have about 48 hours to get them in if you want them to be considered…..

Comments (2)

  1. Trevor

    I fear I’m too late but anyway. In her book she argues that controversies over intelligent design and stem cell research have helped bring religion into the classroom. I would like to hear why she thinks that. My view would be that it’s the opposite. Teachers are distracted by the “teaching the controversy” tactics of the evangelical movement. I think she is evangelical, so it’d be interesting to see her position regarding intelligent design.

    Also I wonder why in general she things that teachers of say mechanical engineering or statistics should spend precious class time engaging in religious question and why religious offerings on campus are insufficient to meet student’s needs?

    Overall her book has a “religion and spirituality is good” vibe and it’d be nice to get a better feel of her position, also how she feels if people just want to be left alone by either or feel that the class room simply isn’t the right setting.

    Finally she presents it as if scientists are apparently largely responsible for a conflict culture. Yet it seems to me that creationism, intelligent design, the stem cell debate etc are brought to the academy largely from the outside by religious groups who seek to create and keep up the impression that there is legitimate controversy. How does she see this point?

    Overall I find her book in terms of the statistics not surprising at all. I find her conclusions or related narrative, e.g. the passage how scientists should behave most interesting and frankly biased and sometimes disturbing. I for one would want to refuse to let religious debates into my classes, not because I’m intolerant against religion at all, but because it’s not the place for it. In this book it really seems like my stance is painted as negative and I cannot hide the feeling that she is really saying that any “keeping out religion” is aggressive.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to learn about the interview.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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