An Empirical Examination of the Warfare Metaphor With Respect to Pre-Service Elementary Teachers

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Since its origination in the late nineteenth century, the warfare metaphor has been used to characterize the relationship between science and religion, especially orthodox Christianity. Though thoroughly discredited by historians of science, the ideological descendants of Thomas Huxley, who spoke of science in quasi-religious terms, have kept the warfare metaphor alive. On the other hand, there are substantial numbers of Christians who at least appear to oppose science given their high-profile opposition to the general theory of evolution. The research reported in this paper asked, "Does anti-science sentiment increase with increasing orthodox Christian belief?" Two validated, published instruments were used: The Thinking about Science Survey Instrument and the Christian Fundamentalist Belief Scale. The subjects for the study were 545 preservice elementary teachers. The analysis did not show that anti-science sentiment increases with increasing Christian belief. Subjects with strong Christian beliefs were found to be just as supportive of science, if not more so, than subjects with no Christian beliefs. The study concludes with a caution against projecting attitudes toward science "on the whole" based on attitudes specifically toward evolution when working with preservice elementary teachers. Such a projection could well be counterproductive. The study has implications for other modern countries having highly religious populations such as Turkey. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


Cobern, W. W., Loving, C. C., Davis, E. B., & Terpstra, J. (2013). An empirical examination of the warfare metaphor with respect to pre-service elementary teachers. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(4), 488–499. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-012-9408-6