Religions of the World
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Saved 11/16/09 to Religions of the World

Why are so Many of Scientists Atheists?

A recent survey (June 2009) of over 2,500 U.S. scientists shows that the scientific community has a very different view of God from society as a whole.  Only 33% of scientists believe in "God" while another 18% believe in a "universal spirit" or "higher power". (See source 1.  )  The study concluded that scientists are less likely to believe in a "God" or "Higher Power" as the general public.


It can be broken down even further by the different areas of study:


Biological/Medical Field:  32% believe in "God", another 19% don't believe in "God" but believe in a "Higher Power", and 41% do not believe in either.


Chemistry:  41% believe in "God", another 14% don't believe in "God" but believe in a "Higher Power", and 39% do not believe in either.


Geoscience:  30% believe in "God", another 20% don't believe in "God" but believe in a "Higher Power", and 47% do not believe in either.


Physics/Astronomy:  29% believe in "God", another 14% don't believe in "God" but believe in a "Higher Power", and 46% do not believe in either.


By contrast, 95% of Americans believe in "God" or a "Higher Power" with approx. 83% having a religious affiliation according to a 2006 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.


I have both a natural science degree and an engineering degree.  I have found that a large majority of my colleagues who have science degrees are atheist.  But in my engineering field, I have found that it depends on where I was working.  When I worked in the south, it was about 60% have a belief, and 40% are atheist.  Living back again in the north, I would say maybe 1 in every 3 or  4 engineers I know have a belief in something. There is a difference between engineers and scientists. Scientists seek to understand why and how something happens, whereas engineers tend to apply knowledge of how something happens. 


My question is why do you suppose scientist in general have a higher percentage of people who are atheist than the public as a whole? 


Source 1: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in May and June 2009


UnDave35 UnDave35 6 years 18 weeks
IMO - The versions of the Bible that are watered down need to be tossed into the fire. The Bible that Martin Luther translated into the various languages is the last version of any Godliness. After that, the leaders have watered down the langueage in an effort to be more inclusive. The next version will have any "Gay is bad" language removed.
PinkNC PinkNC 6 years 18 weeks
I can completely agree that they Bible is too contradictory. So many things have been taken out, reworded and put back in, and so on. Then there are so many different versions of the bible. Which one are you supposed to believe in? Which Bible do you start reading first and then second? It can be too much for someone who is looking to find religion.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 20 weeks
haha - I'm a no way kind of gal! I can't even imagine that if there was a creative force behind everything that it would be something like religion depicts with a human form, human emotions, etc. That's probably one of the hardest things for me to swallow with religion. I struggle to understand how people believe so fervently that "God" - who they believe is so powerful and all knowing is so like us and that they don't question that idea at all. For me, religions nowadays are no different than ancient religions of say the Greeks, Egyptians, Mayans, etc. My husband was catholic when I met him. The more we talked about religion and I would ask questions about what he believed and why, the more his religious beliefs changed. He said I asked questions that he was taught to just accept as the truth without question. His family taught him that religion was above logic and reasoning. When I asked him why, he thought about it and said because it would be too contradictory if logic was applied to it. He no longer believes in organized religion and while I think he does still believe in a "force" behind it all, he doesn't think of it the way the main religions teach. I don't think he believes in heaven/hell or the concept of sin anymore.
Grandpa Grandpa 6 years 20 weeks
I think Penn and Teller expressed it best when they said they had the test as to whether you were an agnostic or an atheist. They said first picture your own personal belief as to who god is or would be, Christ, Allah, Buddha, whatever it doesn’t matter as to the actual concept other then he is “God”. Now picture this entity coming to you and asking you to kill your only or oldest child. If your answer is “No way”, you’re an atheist, if you agree, well keep those way the heck away from me. ;-)
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 20 weeks
Grandpa - I don't mind the mention of people's religious views at all. I am not one of those people who wants "under God" removed from public/government. The swearing in on a bible to public office, doesn't bother me. Religion does not bother me until they tell me I should be following their dictates or try and condemn me for not believing. I have to be tolerant being married into a catholic family. I just wish people were more tolerant of atheists - instead of condemning or preaching to us. When people preach to me about their beliefs like it's the absolute truth and only way - that gets on my nerves. I'm here to try and understand people's religious beliefs, not to have them speak to if their belief is the absolute truth. I make allowances that I may be wrong and there may be a God afterall, I don't know - hence why I'm an agnostic atheist. But most religious people are so absolute that they don't consider the possibility that they may be wrong and to suggest it is offensive to them. I respect their right to believe in God, but I ask that they respect my right to not believe in it and to not preach to me like they are better than me and they know some truth that I don't know. Faith in something is not knowledge.
Grandpa Grandpa 6 years 21 weeks
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced for everyone. Sincerely held beliefs should not be trivialized, as long as they don't push their beliefs down your throat.
Grandpa Grandpa 6 years 21 weeks
Yoga, follow the dictum of the conservative atheist. ;-)
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 21 weeks
justanerd - I understand you full heartedly feel your conviction and beliefs about God, but I have to say I think you are just blindly following the teachings of the bible and because you feel so strongly about it, you don't ever question your beliefs. You really don't seem open to any interpretation other than what you believe. What you are stating about heaven and hell and God not intending for there to be a Hell is a christian belief, created by christians. It's one thing to say that God has been there for all people since existence, but it's another thing to think that your God has had the same requirements (as written/believed by christians) for everyone. I guess the scientist in me just does not understand how you can so absolutely believe that what you read in the bible is the absolute truth. I think your intensity of belief limits your ability to question and ponder what you are saying because in your mind, it's an absolute truth and there can be no other possibility.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 6 years 21 weeks
BTW, I hope you read my reply to your question for me in the other post about fearing God. It's vital for you to know that God did not origionally plan for a Hell to exist, and it certainly wasn't and isn't His will for any soul to end up there. Hell was created as a pit to throw satan into when he rebelled against God, and since then satan has been manipulating people into using their free will to believe in his lies and thereby end up unbelievers and facing an eternity without God when they pass/
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 6 years 21 weeks
I'm glad that you at least see that science cannot disprove God, yoga. That will go a long way in leaving a possibility for you to at least be open to God if He wants to show you how real He is someday. I would much rather you be wrong about God existing when you die and there be no God and no eternity anywhere, than for you to be mistaken about God not existing and there being an eternity in Hell awaiting you. Of course, I know that there is a God but just for 'arguments' sake...
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 22 weeks
Science cannot be used to disprove the existence of God. Because you can't disprove it does not mean it exists.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 6 years 22 weeks
I have heard both, yogaforlife- I have also heard of many people who tried to disprove God using science and ended up becoming belivers through their research. They just could not disprove God. More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell is a book written by one such person.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 22 weeks
What would be interesting would be a poll that showed how many of these scientists felt this way before they became a scientist...i.e. how many atheists became atheists only after entering the scientific field and how many "believers" started off as atheists before entering the field. That would be interesting - to see who has changed their views.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 6 years 23 weeks
But back to the main topic- my answer would be, why do so many God-fearing people want to work in ministry? Right, because they do what they believe in and believe in what they do. Science can either be used to explain Gods existence or used to try to explain it away, however you feel like stacking the facts. If one is prone to not believing in God, one is drawn to science as a way to try and disprove God more so than to any other realm of study.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 6 years 23 weeks
" 95% of Americans believe in "God" or a "Higher Power" with approx. 83% having a religious affiliation according to a 2006 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center." This makes me LOL- in a sad, head shaking way. If 95% of Americans truly believe that they are saved then they truly believe wrong. There are so many people who think they are going to Heaven when they pass who are not saved and not going to Heaven, never mind they are also missing out on having a relationship with God while they are alive. They think they are saved because they went to church with their parents growing up, because they go to church now, because they were baptised and confirmed, because they say they believe in God, because they call themselves a Christian or identify with God in another way, yet the Bible clearly states that the road to Hell is wiiiiiide and the path to Heaven is *narrow*, and FEW will enter in. Why few, because God wants few to enter? Of course not, it's few because people believe that they are saved and have genuine faith when they aren't and don't. True salvation means a true relationship with Christ, it means showing good fruit, a true change in your heart where you are for God now, not your own self anymore- without these things, your just religious. Or worse, your a religious poser. There are tons of people who sit in church every Sunday who have no real relationship with Christ and who are going to Hell- it's unbelieveable, but yet it's not. They don't come there to listen and pray to be saved, they come to look good and keep up with the Jones'. It is a very sad thing.
gamestomper-6 gamestomper-6 6 years 23 weeks
i think scientists are atheists, well a small percemtage of them, because they believe in facts and not in belief of an unseen force.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 23 weeks
Grandpa, I can dream! ;-) I realize there is no way to check population growth short of us running out of resources and people dying on a massive scale. Or maybe new disease will emerge that will wipe out a portion of the population. Either way it's not going to be pretty and it's going to severely stress society. I have no clue how many illegal aliens in the U.S. I'm an engineer/scientist, not a humanitarian or politician. I guess I have heard reasonable points made from both sides concerning illegal aliens. What thoughts I do have are formed so far off of what I have heard but I don't think I have nearly enough understanding of both sides to make an informed decision. I do think we should finds ways to stop it (illegal immigration - not immigration in general). However I'm not sure what we should do with the ones who are here - especially if it involve children born here but who's parents are illegal immigrants. We are a country that was founded on immigration and I think it would be bad if we close our doors and focus inward on ourselves. I don't think illegal immigration is something we can solve completely on our own. The countries/government's the illegal aliens are fleeing from (whether because of persecution or lower standard of living or less opportunity) need to step up and take responsibility to remedy the situation too. However, I don't think the illegal immigrants take up near as many resources as the average citizen. Most don't own cars, or there's one car for several families, they don't have a family of 3 living in a 3,000 sq.ft. house. While they are more people to feed, I would hazard a guess that they still use far less resources than most americans. I still don't think we should allow illegal immigration, but I don't think we can use their impact on the environment/resources as justification.
Grandpa Grandpa 6 years 23 weeks
Yoga, there is no way to enforce population growth, short of outright murder, or forced sterilization. We have how many illegal aliens in the US, Yoga? They need to be clthed hosed and fed, all take resources from the enviornment.
UnDave35 UnDave35 6 years 23 weeks
For these two girls, it meant speaking gibberish, andacting like they understand each other. In the book of Acts (I think), it talks about the 11 having flames suddenly appear above their head, and they were able to speak in different tongues. (A bunch of people who didn't speak Hebrew) each heard the 11 speak in their own language. This one Reverend took that to mean that speaking gibberish is the same as speaking in tongues. Just because you and I don't understand it, doesn't mean it isn't a real language.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 23 weeks
Grandpa - I'm anti supporting the world's population at the expense of the environment. I think we need to stop population growth. I am all for families only having at most 2 children - one to replace each parent. What do open borders/amnesty for illegals have to do with protecting the environment? (I have no opinion on open borders/amnesty - it's not a subject I feel I have enough knowledge on to make an informed opinion.)
Grandpa Grandpa 6 years 23 weeks
impact on the environment is inevitable to support the worlds growing population. I find it ironic, the ones who scream the loudest about anything they perceive as "as anti environment are the same ones who want open borders, and amnesty for illegals..
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 23 weeks
What is speak in tongues?
UnDave35 UnDave35 6 years 23 weeks
It may be just that church. I know Southern Baptists are a lot conservative, but the Baptist denomination allows each church to essentially follow their own beliefs. I know of many Baptists that are decent, but I also know of congregations that speak in tongues, and many other weird things that are totally taken out of context.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 23 weeks
My coworker was southern baptist. Maybe it's a baptist belief?
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 23 weeks
Oh I agree - the reason we are seeing wildfires happening on such large scale is because we didn't understand how necessary regular small wildfires were to the health of the forests. And it's the people's own fault for building homes in areas where wildfires happen.