Re: Scientists reject God

Allan Harvey (
Tue, 01 Dec 1998 08:56:27 -0700

At 09:22 AM 12/1/98 -0800, Arthur Chadwick wrote:
>We have discussed various aspects of belief and science before on the
>listserve, but these are the most depressing statistics I have come across.
> For those interested, the entire article can be seen at the address below.
>Nature 394, 313 (1998) Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
>Leading scientists still reject God
> [Sad statistics snipped]

This was discussed some on the ASA list when it came out a few months
ago. The most striking thing being that, while there was still a decent
level of belief among scientists as a whole (not too different from early
in the century), the level of belief among "leading" scientists (defined
in this study by NAS membership) had declined quite a bit. Phil Johnson
wanted to interpret it as "the deeper you get into the methodological
naturalism of science, the more your belief is destroyed." I and others
thought that instead we were seeing a self-selection process. I wrote:

>However, I suspect more of this difference is due to a lower likelihood
>of Christians in science achieving "leading" status. Things today are
>not like they were early in the century when talent and a little hard
>work could bring a scientist to "leading" status. Now, it tends to take
>talent, a *lot* of hard work, and often a good amount of self-promotion.
>Because Christians will (we hope) have other priorities besides worldly
>success, they will be less likely to exhibit the sort of single-minded,
>non-humble, workaholic pursuit that tends to be required (there are, of
>course, exceptions) to make a scientist "leading". My semi-informed
>guess is that this sort of self-selection is the biggest reason for the
>disparity in the numbers.

I would add that I think another factor in the level of unbelief among
scientists, leading and otherwise, is the hostility toward science in
much of the Evangelical church. A youngster brought up on ICR propaganda
is not going to want to join "the enemy" when he or she grows up.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | "Don't blame the |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | government for what I |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | say, or vice versa." |