I was always amazed at stories about Einstein’s belief in religion.
How could a man who lived after the quest for quantification and proof allow for something so nebulous as God? I didn’t really get it, especially since I am the type of person who needs to know the how and why behind everything.
It wasn’t really until I started to study, practice and teach yoga and other Eastern philosophies and practices, while also teaching a bit of anatomy and physiology that I began to discover that the more I knew, the more outliers I discovered. Moments or phenomenon that happen, but defy conventional explanation.
Do I know who or what God is…or even that God is?
Not yet. Still, though I am not an overtly-religious person, I have this sense of existing within some kind of energetic or spiritual eco-system from which I draw support and life and to which I am beholden.
And, I am open to the notion of some sort of super-intelligence or, as was said in What The Bleep Do We Know?, something akin to the superposition of all consciousness. I have a sense of something that I cannot intelligently articulate.
And, that got me wondering whether there was a clear trend among people of science.
Then I learn about a fascinating study that just blew my mind…
It appeared in the July 1998 issue of Nature (Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham: “Leading Scientists Still Reject God.” Nature, 1998; 394, 313.).
In that 1998 study, Larson and Witham repeated a survey that was conducted in 1914 and then again in 1933 by Leuba. It asked biological and physical scientists from the National Academy of Sciences about their belief in God, then contrasted the responses over an 84-year period. Here’s what they revealed.
Percent who believe in God: 1914 – 27.7% | 1933 – 15% | 1998 – 7%
Disbelief in God: 1913 – 52.7% | 1933 – 68% | 1998 – 72.2%
Doubt or agnosticism: 1913 – 20.9% | 1933 – 17% | 1998 – 20.8%
Interestingly, an August 2005 article in LiveScience on scientists’ belief in God
yields very different numbers that show a higher level of belief, though still well below levels in the general population. That same article also revealed some 76 percent of doctors said they believed in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife.
Contrast this with a 2003 Harris Interactive survey that found that 79% of Americans believe there is a God, and that 66% are absolutely certain this is true. Only 9% do not believe in God, while a further 12% are not sure.
So, it looks like, as a general rule, there is a stronger tendency for scientists, who are some of the smartest, most educated people, to disbelieve.
Which makes me really curious, what do you guys think about the connection between intelligence, science, education and a belief in God?
Does anyone have links to other interesting studies on this?
Share your mind in the comments below…
UPDATE: 4-14-08: The Pew Foundation just released a study that revealed that, when looking at changes from one major religious tradition to another — including no religion at all — more than one-in-four adults (28%) have changed their religious affiliation from that in which they were raised.
Among those changing their affiliation, the largest number now say they are not affiliated with any particular religious group or tradition.
Another group that shows a net gain as a result of affiliation changes is nondenominational Protestants, whose share of the population has more than tripled as a result of such shifts. The denomination that has experienced the greatest net loss by far is the Catholic Church.
Fascinating…what’s this all about?
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