Scientist are religious

Not all scientists are atheists. More Than 50% of scientists worldwide are actually religious.

Researchers at Rice University have done the first international survey on how scientists see religion. Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Founding Director of Religion and Public Life Program at Rice University, said that there is no denying the popular framing of a war between religion and science. This is a war consisting of words fueled by religious people and scientists. The lay person is also involved in this fracas.

The results of the study challenge a number of assumptions concerning science-faith interface. Even as it is generally assumed that a majority of scientists will be atheists, the worldwide perspective obtained during the study reveals that it may not be true.

The research initiative is named “Religion Among Scientists in International Context” and involves a study conducted in eight nations. Data was collected from United States, United Kingdom, France, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Turkey and Italy. The study has taken into account the perspectives of scientists on professional ethics, religion, role of the family, and science policy in the scientific enterprise. The study was done on a number of research scientists at different stages in their careers. The institutions were all research intensive and enable the exploration of a number of research questions like:

  • How do physicists and biologists perceive misconduct and research integrity?
  • How do such perceptions change by stage of career, nation, gender, and discipline?
  • Under which set of conditions scientists are forced to act if there is a misconduct of research?
  • What are the probable conflicts of interest of the role of industry in research?
  • What are the differences of perception between men and women and why there are much fewer women in the field of science?

Ecklund found that more than 50 percent of scientists in Turkey, India, Taiwan, and Italy identify themselves as religious. It is of particular interest that the number of “convinced atheists” among the general population is about double the scientists professing the same view. To give an example, 26 percent of scientists in Hong Kong are atheists compared to 55 percent of atheists in the general population.

The researchers found that scientists, as a whole, are less religious compared to a standard general population. However, exceptions do exist- like in Taiwan, where 54 percent of total number of scientists in the country describe themselves as religious when compared to 44 percent of its general population. Such findings challenge the non-religious label of scientists all around the globe.

Resources
  • Phys.org
  • Religion and Public Life Program
  • Financial Express
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