October 22, 2015

Religion and Science

Few Religious Group Differences in Views on Space Issues

Space exploration has, up to now, been largely funded by the federal government and overseen by NASA. The Pew Research Center survey included two questions about space. One asks about government investment in the International Space Station. A second question asks for views about the role of astronauts as part of space exploration in the future. There are few differences among religious groups on either question.

Majority of All Major Religious Groups Say Space Station Has Been a Good InvestmentU.S. investment in the space station

The Pew Research Center survey asked: “Do you think the space station has been a good investment for this country, or don’t you think so?” A majority of adults – 64%– consider the space station a good investment for the country, while 29% say it has not.

Majorities across all major religious groups say the space station has been a good investment.

Views on this issue by frequency of church attendance are roughly the same.

Neither religious affiliation nor frequency of church attendance significantly predicts views about investment in the space station when controlling for other factors in a multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Human astronauts and the U.S. space program

Majority of Americans Think Human Astronauts Are Essential to U.S. Space ExplorationThe Pew Research survey also included a question about the role of astronauts in future space exploration. The question stated: “The cost of sending human astronauts to space is considerably greater than the cost of using robotic machines for space exploration. As you think about the future of the U.S. space program, do you think it is essential or not essential to include the use of human astronauts in space?”

A majority of the public (59%) says astronauts are essential to include in the future of the U.S. space program, while 39% say astronauts are not essential.

Most religious groups say human astronauts are an essential part of future U.S. space exploration. But black Protestants are closely divided on whether human astronauts are essential, with 47% saying human astronauts are essential and 50% saying they are not.

Views about the use of humans in the space program do not significantly vary based on how often the general public attends church.

A multivariate logistic regression analysis, not shown, found no differences by religious affiliation or frequency of church attendance in views about this issue when controlling for other factors.