Only 15pc of scientists at major research universities believe religion and science are always in conflict, according to a new study.
And it found that 68 percent of scientists surveyed consider themselves spiritual to some degree.
The research, carried out by Rice University, found that a majority of scientists viewed both religion and science as "valid avenues of knowledge" that can bring broader understanding to important questions.
Researchers interviewed a scientifically selected sample of 275 participants, pulled from a survey of 2,198 tenured and tenure-track faculty in the natural and social sciences at 21 elite U.S. research universities.
Only 15 percent of those surveyed view religion and science as always in conflict. Another 15 percent say the two are never in conflict, and 70 percent believe religion and science are only sometimes in conflict.
Approximately half of the original survey population expressed some form of religious identity, whereas the other half did not.
Lead author of the report, Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist at Rice University said: “Much of the public believes that as science becomes more prominent, secularization increases and religion decreases.
"Findings like these among elite scientists, who many individuals believe are most likely to be secular in their beliefs, definitely call into question ideas about the relationship between secularization and science."
Many of those surveyed cited issues in the public realm (teaching of creationism versus evolution, stem cell research) as reasons for believing there is conflict between the two.
The study showed that these individuals generally have a particular kind of religion in mind (and religious people and institutions) when they say that religion and science are in conflict.
According to the study, scientists bro identified three strategies of action used by these scientists to manage the religion-science boundaries and the circumstances that the two could overlap.
The study also found that scientists as a whole are substantially different from the American public in how they view teaching "intelligent design" in public schools. Nearly all of the scientists -- religious and nonreligious alike -- have a negative impression of the theory of intelligent design.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, scientists who view themselves as spiritual/religious are less likely to see religion and science in conflict, according to the survey.
The study also found that even the most religious of scientists were described in very positive terms by their nonreligious peers under some circumstance.