Alan I. Leshner is the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Executive Publisher of Science. He has written an article for the Huffington Post [Science, Religion and Civil Dialogue]. As usual, this type of accommodationist focuses on the fact that there are religious scientists. In this case, the recent study by Elaine Ecklund gets a prominent mention.
Let's hope that Ecklund's unusually comprehensive assessment will help overturn the myth that scientists reject spirituality, or that science and religion are inherently incompatible.There may be a myth that all scientists reject spirituality. I really can't comment on that except to note that I have never, ever, heard anyone make this claim.
That myth persists among scientists and religious believers alike. In 2009 study by the Pew Research Center, 61% of Americans said that science poses no conflict with their own faith. Nonetheless, 55% of those same respondents said they view religion and science generally as "often in conflict." Evolution, for instance, has divided Americans since 1859, when Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species."
There is a better way, which will be demonstrated June 16 when leading scientists and a respected Christian minister engage in a free, public dialogue at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The real issue is whether science and religion are inherently incompatible and that issue is not a "myth" by any stretch of the imagination. It's a perfectly reasonable position, whether you agree with it or not. The existence of scientists who are religious does nothing to decide the issue one way or another. After all, there are scientists who believe in homeopathy but that doesn't mean homeopathy is compatible with science. What Leshner says is illogical and logic is supposed to be one of the hallmarks of good science.1
If the CEO of AAAS can't distinguish real philosophical issues from "myth" then I suggest that Americans need a new CEO—one who will keep the organization out of domains where it has no mandate to speak for all scientists. If Alan I. Leshner can't keep religion out of the organization then he should resign.2
As you might expect, Jerry Coyne restates the position that many of us hold [The AAAS goes all accommodationist]. Scientific organizations like AAAS have no business making claims about whether science and religion are compatible or not. When they cow-tow to religion they are separating themselves from a great many scientists who hold contrary points of view. The organization does not, cannot, and should not speak for scientists on subjects outside of science.
What Should Scientific Organizations Say about Religion?
How Should Scientific Societies Treat Religion?
Are Science and Religion Compatible? AAAS Says Yes.
AAAS Panel: Communicating Science in a Religious America
1. I haven't mentioned the other illogical part of the argument; namely, that criticism of religion is "uncivil."
2. Please, let's not have any silly debate over whether Leshner is expressing a personal opinion or speaking for AAAS. Read his article and note how he identifies himself as author.