Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Lisa Martin-Hansen

Second Advisor

Pier Junor Clarke

Third Advisor

Laurie Dias

Fourth Advisor

Michael Dias

Abstract

The cultures of science and religion have had different levels of conflict throughout the past several hundred years due in part to the development of the theory of evolution. Although many ideas abound in science education as to the alleviation of this struggle, few studies have examined how scientists who profess religious beliefs deal with this conflict. In general, the study sought to understand the cognitive dynamic of the cultural interaction between the scientific and religious culture within a few individuals. Specifically, the study allowed scientists to explain how they found a measure of compatibility between their faith and their scientific endeavors. Within the boundaries of both the general and specific purposes for the study, the following research question was used:

How do college science professors describe the interaction between their faith and their scientific knowledge in reference to their transitioning between a naturalistic or scientific understanding and a super-naturalistic or religious understanding?

Three theoretical lenses were used as backdrop to view the cultural interaction. World View (Kearney, 1984), Collateral Learning Theory (Jegede, 1995), and Faith Perspective in relation to the Stages of Faith Theory (Fowler, 1981) constituted the theoretical framework. Because of the qualitative nature of the research, the author used a modified naturalistic paradigm that stressed an emergent quality, grounded categorical design, and a modified case study written format that aided in the understanding of data generated through multiple qualitative methods. Three overlapping themes emerged within the data that offer new insights not only into the complex nature of the conflict but also into the ways scientists themselves find a reason to have faith as well as scientific knowledge. Boundaries based upon a philosophical and world view difference, conflict due to culturally integrative ideas, and cultural bridges without distortion made up the overlapping thematic ideas that were consistently demonstrated by each participant. The insights demonstrated by this study may also enlighten the science education community to the importance of both culture and belief in reference to a meaningful learning experience in science.

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