In a society that prides itself on being open to all religions, religious scientists have been trying to keep a lid on their work.
And some scientists are worried that their work is being misused to promote religion.
That’s the view of Dr. Mark Schmaler, an American-born Muslim who runs the Institute for Science and Technology Studies, a nonprofit that teaches Islamic sciences in schools.
“I think that they’re using the term ‘science without religion’ to cover a broad spectrum of disciplines and disciplines that they think they need to be able to teach without religion,” Schmalers told ABC News.
“If you’re going to use that term, then it has to be understood as broadly as possible, not as narrowly as it can be.”
In recent years, many of the world’s most famous scientists have expressed concerns that their careers might be affected by the idea that Islam is a science that does not rely on faith.
Dr. Daniel Boorstin, an associate professor of astronomy at Harvard University, wrote a book in 2016 that called for the exclusion of religion from science.
“We should never presume that religion is the sole, and only, basis for scientific inquiry,” he wrote.
In a 2017 article in The American Philosophical Society, Schmaller wrote that “inherent to science is the need for skepticism about claims that we can know and verify.”
Science is based on evidence, not faith, he wrote, adding that faith is a “substance” that must be tested.
“Science can be both a search for the truth, and a search to find the evidence that supports the truth,” he said.
“But, if it is neither the search for truth nor the evidence for the search, then science itself ceases to be a legitimate and objective endeavor.”
The American Science Association, which represents more than 150,000 scientists, told ABCNews.com in a statement that “scientific research is built on rigorous methods, and all efforts to avoid any claim of religious underpinnings must be done in a way that respects the scientific method.”
It added that “religion has played a significant role in science in recent decades, and it is important to continue to celebrate and engage in science as a method of inquiry and the foundation of all human endeavor.”
In a 2015 statement, Schmaltz said he “regrets any impact that some people have had on the science community in the past, and does not see that as a major concern.”
He added, “In the end, all of us are here for a reason, and if our work makes us part of the fabric of our society, then we’re not the enemy.
Science is about the discovery of truths, not the establishment of beliefs.”
In the United States, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and other groups also support the separation of religion and science.
But many scientists, including Schmoltz, say they see no problem with separating science and religion, saying that the scientific process is all about looking for the evidence to support an idea or finding out if something is true.
“It’s not the same thing as religion,” he told ABC.
“Religion is a tool of inquiry, and science is an objective process.”
Schmolts point out that many people use the word “science” to refer to the physical world as well as the spiritual world.
And if you don’t think the scientific study of the universe is really science, then you are a bigot, Schmolts said.
And the fact that some of the most powerful scientific theories in the world are based on religious faith is not a problem for anyone, he added.
“The reason I am a scientist is because I believe that I am part of a bigger universe that has been designed to help humanity through our history, that has given us our civilization and our science,” Schmolin said.
His statement is the latest in a long list of calls for scientists to stay out of the religious debate.
Some of the top scientists in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, for instance, have publicly backed the exclusion from science of any religious belief.
In the UK, the government recently passed a law that bars scientists from engaging in “engagement in scientific debate.”
In Australia, a law was recently passed that prohibits any public scientist from publicly commenting on a religion or any other form of “theism, superstition, or any form of religious belief or belief system.”
In Canada, a similar law has been in place since 2008.
In all, Canada has some 1,500 public science departments.
“There are people who are trying to take away our science and science education,” Schmolten said.
Some religious leaders have responded to these calls, saying they welcome scientists to speak freely about their faith.
“To say, ‘Oh, you can’t do this because you’re not a scientist’ is to say that we don’t need to listen to your