Monday , September 25 2023

Scientists & religious belief

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A survey conducted by the American Pew Research Center in May 2009 on members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that they are much less religious than the general public. More than half of them believe in some form of God or a supernatural power, but the center found that the proportion among the rest of Americans rises to 95%!

In a more recent survey, 4 out of 10 scientists did not believe in a supernatural power but only 4% of their citizens shared the same opinion.

The latest survey of scientists closely follows previous surveys, which measured their opinions about religion, and the first of these experiments was conducted in 1914 by the Swiss-American psychologist James Luba, who conducted his research on the opinions of about 1,000 scientists in the United States of America to ask them about their opinions about God The scientific community is evenly divided, with 42% believing in a specific, identifiable deity, while a similar percentage said they do not.

More than 80 years later, Edward Larson, a historian of science who was at the time teaching at the University of Georgia, reformulated the Luba survey, asking the same questions to the same number of scientists. It found that 40% of scientists believe in a personal God, while 45% say they do not, and other surveys of scientists have yielded nearly similar results.

Given the low numbers and levels of belief of a large proportion of scientists in a supernatural power, it is not surprising that the proportion of those who do not belong to any religion is much higher than it is among the common people. Thus, it follows that most religious traditions are represented in smaller numbers in the scientific community than in the public as a whole.

For example, we find that the proportion of Protestants in the scientific community constitutes only 21%, despite the fact that evangelicals of them represent only 28% of the American population, and their percentage constitutes only a small segment (4%) of the scientific community. A notable exception is that Jews, who make up a larger proportion of the scientific community (8%), make up only 2% of the general American population.

A Pew Research Center survey also found that levels of religious belief among scientists vary according to their scientific specialization and age group. For example, 41% of chemists believe in a hidden divine power, a larger proportion than those working in other major scientific fields. Meanwhile, younger scientists, ages 18 to 34, are more likely to believe in supernatural power than those who are older.

A Pew Center study, related to religious background, wealth and education, showed that Jews are the most educated, with an average share of 13.4 years of schooling, while Christians have 9.3 years.

I leave it to you to estimate the per capita share of education in our countries, even though we are the highest in the world in the number of holders of invaluable doctorate degrees.

e-mail: [email protected]

By Ahmad alsarraf

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