CRC 235 Emergence of Life

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Creating a foundation for origin of life outreach: How scientists relate to their field, the public, and religion

K. Wienand 2023 PLoS ONE


Karl Wienand, Lorenz Kampschulte & Wolfgang M. Heckl



Origins of life research is particularly challenging to communicate because of the tension between its many disciplines and its nearness to traditionally philosophical or religious questions. To authentically represent scientists’ perspective in a museum exhibition, we interviewed 46 researchers from diverse backgrounds. We investigated how they perceive their field, science communication, and the relation with religion. Results show that researchers actively participate in resolving the scientific debate, but delegate the resolution of controversies involving non-scientific institutions. Advocating for science is the foremost communication goal in all contexts. Career stage, research subject, religiosity, etc. influence the approach to controversies and communication.