Scientists' Spirituality Surprises; Only One-Third of 1,646 Polled Don't Believe in God, New Study Says

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 15, 2005 | Go to article overview

Scientists' Spirituality Surprises; Only One-Third of 1,646 Polled Don't Believe in God, New Study Says


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

America's scientists are a surprisingly spiritual group, according to a survey in which almost 70 percent agreed "there are basic truths" in religion, and 68 percent classified themselves as a "spiritual person."

Overall, about a third said "I do not believe in God" in the analysis, which polled 1,646 scientists at 21 research universities across the nation.

The findings mirror a similar study of physicians released by the University of Chicago last month, which revealed 76 percent of the 2,000 doctors surveyed said they believed in God.

"Science is often perceived as incompatible with religion and spirituality, but few have asked how scientists themselves think about religion," said study director Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist at Rice University in Houston.

Previous studies have indicated that as few as 7 percent of the nation's top scientists said they believed in God. However, change may be afoot.

"In general, those in the academy may not be as irreligious as some academic and popular commentators would like to think," Mrs. Ecklund writes in her study, "Religion Among Academic Scientists."

The analysis probed the spirituality of the ivory tower, questioning scientists in physics, chemistry, biology, sociology, economics, political science and psychology about God, the Bible, religion, church attendance and prayer.

The average respondent's age was about 50, eight out of 10 were married, 84 percent were men, and all had children. About two-thirds were full professors, and all had published books. …

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