Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scientists' belief in God

Often critics of Christianity (and other religions) frame the issue as one of science vs. religion. However, it appears that about half of scientists belief in God. From an article in today's LA Times by a researcher at the Pew Foundation.

"According to a survey of members of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center in May and June this year, a majority of scientists (51%) say they believe in God or a higher power, while 41% say they do not.

Furthermore, scientists today are no less likely to believe in God than they were almost 100 years ago, when the scientific community was first polled on this issue."

To read the rest of it...


Mark said...

God and science are not in conflict. Anyone who claims that there is a conflict is trying to game the system to their advantage.

Rob Bell explains it best:

"When people say that the authority of Scripture or the centrality of Jesus is in question, actually it's their social, economic and political system that has been built in the name of Jesus that's being threatened," Bell says. "Generally lurking below some of the more venomous, vitriolic criticism is somebody who's created a facade that's not working..."

This quote is from wikipedia.

Drek said...

I actually agree that science and religion need not be in conflict and know full well how many scientists are deeply religious. That said, I think your framing of the issue is interesting. I don't often see atheists or anti-theists saying that religion is wrong because it conflicts with science (Dawkins being a vocal exception) but I frequently see theists arguing that science is wrong because it conflicts with religion. Consider the recent Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron book giveaway, the creation science and intelligent design movements, and so forth. Certainly atheists argue that religion is illogical, but this is hardly a novel claim given that faith is regarded as a virtue and, in any case, logic is not the same as science.

It may also be worth noting that "religion" can cover a lot of area. A person who devoutly believes in a vaguely defined higher power and a person who devoutly believes that the bible is literally true are both "religious" but are still quite different from each other.

Anonymous said...

it would be nice to see the breakdown of belief by discipline and and better definition of the believers. Are they theists, deists, pantheists. For example Einstein "God" was a pantheistic viewpoint which is leagues away from the average christian perspective of God but they both could get counted as believers. Are they counting social/psyche scientists as well as bio/phys/chem type scientists.

Statements like "Nearly half of U.S. scientists say they have no religious affiliation -- describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular"
seem to confuse the 41% vs 52% statistic. I would like to know what percentage of the 51 believe in a theistic deity. I would hedge bets and say that figure is low.

K T Cat said...

So the galaxies are accelerating as they move away from each other, which indicates a finiteness of time. That is, an entropy death of the Universe is born out by empirical data. The finiteness of time was all that St. Thomas Aquinas required for his existence proof of God.

I'm a scientist by training and some amount of professional experience and I just don't get this fashionable denial of God. There's not much more to it than that. It certainly isn't suggested by the data.

K T Cat said...

Off topic: Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing your insights and knoweldge with the rest of us.

Brad Wright said...

Thank you KT.

Brad Wright said...

Drek, a thoughtful comment, as always. It got me thinking about the differences that Evangelicals and Atheists take in regards to issues of religion and science.

One difference is that I don't know any Christians who reject science, as a whole; rather, some creationists reject a line of research with evolution. Otherwise, the fully accept other scientific findings and most science is not evolution.

In contrast, Dawkins, who I believe is the most prominent atheist, fully rejects all of religion.

This is why I framed the article as I did, in that the survey finding about religion and scientists would seem to be of more relevance to Dawkin's position than the creationist.