Thursday, August 11, 2005

Most scientists believe in God, but belief varies widely by discipline

In the new study, Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund surveyed 1,646 faculty members at elite research universities, asking 36 questions about belief and spiritual practices.

About two-thirds of all scientists believe in God (this includes attending religious services), but there are very different belief trends based on the type of research they do. Those in the social sciences are more likely to believe in God and attend religious services than researchers in the natural sciences.

Nearly 38 percent of natural scientists said they do not believe in God. Only 31 percent of the social scientists do not believe.
41 percent of the biologists don't believe
27 percent of political scientists don't believe

"Many scientists see themselves as having a spirituality not attached to a particular religious tradition. Some scientists who don't believe in God see themselves as very spiritual people. They have a way outside of themselves that they use to understand the meaning of life," Ecklund said. I suspect, however, that this is typical of most people these days. This is the current kind of ‘spirituality’ that you find when talking to people, especially North American non-Catholics -- people tend argue that they have a spiritual side but not one that is oriented toward any particular religion. More immigration from various parts of the world will effect this trend. Also, among adherents to the Christian religion (other than Roman Catholics), their belief system is not denominationally oriented.

In another separate work at the University of Chicago, released in June, 76 percent of doctors said they believed in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife.

Further study about the nature of the belief would be worthwhile.