The question has come up in the discussion of the AAAS video on Panda's Thumb [The AAAS responds to “Expelled”]. The video highlights several people who claim that science and religion are compatible. Since AAAS is a scientific organization, it makes sense that the people being interviewed are scientists. However, many of them are not—at least not by my understanding of what a scientist is.
For example, some of the people being interviewed are high school teachers in Dover. One of them, Jennifer Miller, is participating in the comments. Is she a scientist? Yes, according to some people because she got an undergraduate degree in biology. According to PvM that's all it takes.
Is this sufficient? I don't think so. I think that a scientist has to be an "expert" in some area of science and I think that having an undergraduate degree isn't enough. This doesn't mean that the testimony of high school science teachers is irrelevant to the discussion about compatibility of science and religion. It just means that they aren't really expert enough in science to be called scientists.
This issue also came up last week when I was talking about it to a fellow evolutionist. That person made the claim that Richard Dawkins isn't a scientist any more. That's going too far, in my opinion. Just because he may not have a grant and may not be publishing papers in the scientific literature does not mean that he has lost his claim to scientific expertise. If we try to stick to a definition like that then not only are high school teachers eliminated but also a great many real scientists.
Why do you think? Can you be a scientist if all you have is an undergraduate degree? Can you be a scientist if you don't publish in scientific journals?
Here's a challenging test of your definition of a scientist. The photograph below is from the April 30, 2008 edition of The Daily Mail in the UK [Calamari for 500: Scientists defrost giant squid with 10.8 inch eyes]. The caption reads, "A technician sits in the tank with the carcass as scientists examine the squid."
Surely these people aren't real scientists?
[Image Credit: The scientist cartoon is from Jacks of Science]