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Why are so Many of Scientists Atheists?

Posted By Yogaforlife on Nov 16, 2009 at 9:08AM

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



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