If we’re aiming to build a genuinely diverse and inclusive scientific community, that means that we need to accept religious scientists as a part of Team Science.
I was reminded about this last week, when I got a a lil’ spate of hate mail. It turns out that an anti-religion blogger caught wind of a blog post I wrote three years ago. In that post, I fretted about some particular loud and rabid “New Atheists” who spent a lot of their time trying to build a wall around science, to keep out folks with religious beliefs. I don’t know what he said, and it didn’t really increase traffic into my blog, but his flock managed to put a dent into my inbox.
I have to admit, I’m not particularly proud of that post that drew the hate mail. Shortly after I wrote it, it became a learning opportunity for me. The haters are neither here nor there, because I can afford to brush off the ire of anti-religion activists. But I did get other critical feedback, that was really on point, and it made me regret saying what I said, and the way I said it.
I put energy into relatively small number of people who are destructive to our community, and that energy is what feeds them. At the same time, I overlooked a much greater number of people who have been putting time and effort into building a just and equitable scientific community. Who have been working to make space in ecology and evolutionary biology for scientists of faith, who don’t see any conflict between science and religious belief.
I don’t have a huge platform here, but it’s a medium sized one at least in the scientific community. And by calling attention to the haters rather than the people doing good work, I misappropriated my platform. I responded with gratitude to my critics, and said that I would make good on elevating the voices of religious folks in science, and those who are doing this work. And I asked people to hold me accountable.
And then, time went by, life went on, and I didn’t really return to the topic, and nobody held me accountable. So I thought now’s the time to make good on bringing more attention to people who do the work of welcoming scientists of faith, promoting education about evolution in a manner that is effective and respectful of others, and to hearing from religious people who are navigating a life in science.
So in the coming weeks, after soliciting pitches for posts, I’ll be publishing work from people who I think we can learn a lot from. Stay tuned! It’s taken me too long to do this, and is nice to respond to hate mail with something more constructive.