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Posted: 19 April 2005 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]In September of 1999, Scientific American published a very interesting article entitled “Scientists and Religion in America”, by Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham.

The article describes the results of surveys of scientists conducted by psychologist James H. Leuba in 1914 and 1933 and repeated by the authors in 1996 and 1998.  The anonymous surveys contained only two questions which covered “the two central beliefs of the Christian religion”; Do you believe in (1) a God in intellectual and effective communication with man to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving and answer and (2) personal immortality.  Only three answers were accepted …..”yes”, “no” and “don’t know”.  In each survey, an attempt was made to categorize and/or stratify the scientists in terms of their recognized accomplishments to distinguish “elite” scientists from the others.

Here are the key findings of the surveys:

• In all surveys, the percent of all scientists expressing belief in God remained constant at 40%
• In Leuba’s day, 40% also believed in an afterlife.  Today, it is about 50%.
• When the “elite” scientists were surveyed in 1914, only 33% expressed belief in God or an afterlife. 
• By 1933 that number had declined to 20%
• Today, only 10% of “elite” scientists are believers.
• The most disbelieving were the “elite” biologists at only 5%
• The most accepting among the “elite” were mathematicians at 17%.

CA,

This does seem to require a subscription.  Could you elucidate what is meant by “elite”?  How is this defined?

I note that in the above stats and in some other things I’ve read about the religious beliefs of scientists indicate that biologists tend to be the least religious.  If I remember correctly, chemists and mathematicians are the most religious.  Somebody, earlier in this thread, alluded to scientists whose work did not “clash” with religion.  It occurs to me that chemists would fit in this category since chemistry doesn’t deal with evolutionary principles (except for biochemistry of course.)  I know several computer scientists (mathematicians sort of) who are religious.  Wonder if there is more along these lines?

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Posted: 19 April 2005 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“Anonymous”]
CA,

This does seem to require a subscription.  Could you elucidate what is meant by “elite”?  How is this defined?

All of the surveys randomly sampled scientists who were listed in “American Men and Women of Science” in the years of the study.

In Leuba’s time, highly accomplished scientists were designated with a “star” next to their listing.  These were designated by him to be “greater scientists” or what I have called “elite”.

For the recent surveys, because the “star” designation is no longer in use, the authors surveyed all of the biological and physical (including mathematics) science members of the very elite National Academy of Sciences (NAS) whose members are carefully selected by their peers in recognition of their contributions to science.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful…..Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman (3 BC - 65 AD)

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Posted: 19 April 2005 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Islander:

. . . I thought that AA’s original summation said it beautifully. The faith-based community likes to say, or imply, that science is just as dogmatic and dependent on faith in its theories.

In the above posts, I see several people expressing various versions of this point.

Most literalistic Christians I know have interpreted natural events they have personally seen as being God-influenced. This is what provides them with their faith, or at least that’s what they think. (I would propose that they’ve actually been brainwashed or indoctrinated and they search out evidence to support messages that their brains are communicating to them.) In their assessment of reality, God performs miracles. They’ve seen it with their own eyes, even if such miracles amount to simple coincidence.

This is why such people hold scientific evidence to be more questionable than Godly evidence. Also significant is that many Christian denominations forbid scientific or philosophical (i.e. logical) scrutiny, and therefore church members get scared away from allowing themselves to think long thoughts. They remain as children, and their pastors demand that they do so, at least as far as the pondering of existential matters.

Dave

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Posted: 20 April 2005 03:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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CA,

Thank you for that clarification.  I will still try to look up the reference.

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