Religious people aren't as scientifically naive as we think

University of Michigan psychologist Susan Gelman and her colleagues have been exploring people’s causal reasoning about illness. These researchers have found that, at least when it comes to what goes on in our own heads, there’s not much of a conflict between religion and science. Sure, that bad case of strep throat your kid got right before your scheduled vacation to Barbados was caused by her chewing on a virus-laden pencil she’d borrowed in math class. And of course, waking up to that enormous zit at the end of your nose on the day of your big interview was caused by that new moisturiser you took a chance on. You’re not delusional: you know your basic science. But that doesn’t mean God’s not trying to tell you something by—what’s the best word here—‘authoring’ these events. Perhaps He didn’t want you lounging on that sundrenched beach because you’d have stepped on an HIV-infected needle half-buried in the sand. Or maybe God didn’t like the fact that you’d been so boastful about landing that job interview and thought you could do with a bit of humbling, so he turned you into Rudolph for a few days.

Gelman refers to this way of thinking as “co-existence reasoning,” where natural, scientific forces are viewed as directly causing a certain event, but supernatural forces are perceived simultaneously as somehow blowing life into this science. Another way to say this is that science and God often co-exist harmoniously in the same mindset, with science acting ‘proximally’ and God acting ‘distally.’
From "Religious People Aren't as Scientifically Naive as We Think" by Jesse Bering.

Also read the relevant paper by Susan Gelman.

And read another fascinating paper, which shows that people believe in both evolution and creationism at the same time.

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