Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Nebraska Educator, Volume 4 (2017), pp 47-63.



© 2017 University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Much attention has been given to the general public’s lack of understanding of science and the adverse effect of this lack of knowledge in our ever-advancing scientific and technological society. Religion remains an important social frame through which individuals interpret information, including scientific findings and facts and one deserving of closer examination in understanding disparities in public science knowledge. Using a random sample of adults in Nebraska, this study explored the association between religious affiliation and adult scientific literacy of human biological concepts. Results found a relationship between religious affiliation and adult scientific knowledge, even after controlling for confounding demographic variables such as education, age, and gender. Specifically, Evangelical/Fundamentalist Protestants had the lowest level of science knowledge compared to their counterparts with other religious affiliations and the non-affiliated. No significant gender, racial, age, or rural/urban differences emerged, but, as expected, education was positively associated with higher levels of science literacy. Implications regarding inequalities in levels of adult science literacy and strategies for educators to reduce these inequalities are discussed.