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markdohle

Does It Matter

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One fact that concerns some Christians and elates some atheists is that 93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most elite scientific organizations in the United States, do not believe in God. Atheist Sam Harris says that, “This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.”

Should Christians be concerned that so many of these intelligent people don’t believe in God? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

Check the numbers

First, the National Academy of Sciences represents a small number of scientists. The Academy itself comprises only about 2,000 members, while there are more than 2 million scientists employed in the United States as a whole. This means that the NAS only represents about one-tenth of one percent of all scientists in the nation. Using this statistic alone to prove scientists are overwhelmingly atheists would be inaccurate.

A more accurate description comes from the Pew Research Center, which reported in 2009 that 51 percent of scientists believe that God or some higher power exists, while 41 percent of scientists reject both of those concepts. In addition, while only 2 percent of the general population identifies as atheist, 17 percent of scientists identify themselves with that term.

But now we have to consider another important set of factors: Is it science that turns people into atheists? Or is it atheism that turns people into scientists?

Elaine Ecklund’s recent book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think shows that scientists are more religious than we realize. In the course of her interviews she found that many scientists reject religion for personal reasons prior to becoming scientists (as opposed to rejecting religion solely on scientific grounds).

It is unfortunate that secular people feel more compelled to study the natural sciences than religious people, because some of our greatest scientific discoveries have come from people of faith (Gregor Mendel and Fr. Georges Lemaitre instantly come to mind).

Indeed, I have the pleasure of having a father-in-law who is a devout Catholic and a literal rocket scientist.

Continue: http://www.strangeno...atheist-scienti

http://www.strangenotions.com/atheist-scientists/

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One fact that concerns some Christians and elates some atheists is that 93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most elite scientific organizations in the United States, do not believe in God. Atheist Sam Harris says that, “This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.”

Should Christians be concerned that so many of these intelligent people don’t believe in God? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

Check the numbers

First, the National Academy of Sciences represents a small number of scientists. The Academy itself comprises only about 2,000 members, while there are more than 2 million scientists employed in the United States as a whole. This means that the NAS only represents about one-tenth of one percent of all scientists in the nation. Using this statistic alone to prove scientists are overwhelmingly atheists would be inaccurate.

A more accurate description comes from the Pew Research Center, which reported in 2009 that 51 percent of scientists believe that God or some higher power exists, while 41 percent of scientists reject both of those concepts. In addition, while only 2 percent of the general population identifies as atheist, 17 percent of scientists identify themselves with that term.

But now we have to consider another important set of factors: Is it science that turns people into atheists? Or is it atheism that turns people into scientists?

Elaine Ecklund’s recent book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think shows that scientists are more religious than we realize. In the course of her interviews she found that many scientists reject religion for personal reasons prior to becoming scientists (as opposed to rejecting religion solely on scientific grounds).

It is unfortunate that secular people feel more compelled to study the natural sciences than religious people, because some of our greatest scientific discoveries have come from people of faith (Gregor Mendel and Fr. Georges Lemaitre instantly come to mind).

Indeed, I have the pleasure of having a father-in-law who is a devout Catholic and a literal rocket scientist.

Continue: http://www.strangeno...atheist-scienti

http://www.strangeno...ist-scientists/

You raise some good points.

I'd like to extend your question, though: would it matter to Christians if ALL scientists were atheists?

It shouldn't. If belief is by faith, then facts don't matter. Science and scientists would be irrelevant to religion. But, obviously, some Christians think facts are important, thereby opening the door to science.

If you have faith, you don't need science. If you need to use science to prop up your faith, then you don't really believe.

Doug

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You raise some good points.

I'd like to extend your question, though: would it matter to Christians if ALL scientists were atheists?

It shouldn't. If belief is by faith, then facts don't matter. Science and scientists would be irrelevant to religion. But, obviously, some Christians think facts are important, thereby opening the door to science.

If you have faith, you don't need science. If you need to use science to prop up your faith, then you don't really believe.

Doug

wow man that blew my mind

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Would it better, or worse, if all scientists were true believers?

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Would it better, or worse, if all scientists were true believers?

What would be worse is a badly trained scientist regardless of their religious beliefs.

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Would it better, or worse, if all scientists were true believers?

A good scientist can differentiate the two. And further ensure those two different things are kept separate.

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Posted (edited)

Would it better, or worse, if all scientists were true believers?

That would be a good question

If those scientists allowed their true belief to get in the way of finding and answering all relevant questions, without making any assumptions, then it would matter. If true belief kept them from following the data wherever it might lead, then it would matter. Or if true belief kept them from changing those beliefs in the presence of compelling evidence to the contrary, then it would matter. If beliefs arrived at through assumption ("faith") are held beyond the pale of science, then it would matter.

The problems between science and religion always seem to come from somebody assuming something he can't support objectively. That occasionally happens in science, but it is the norm in religion. And that's why it looks like scientists are attacking religion and why there is an unusually high ratio of atheists among scientists.

Doug

PS: Most science has no bearing on religion whatever. Only a few fields find themselves constantly at odds with religionists.

Doug

Edited by Doug1o29
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I think it matters more that the christian creation myth is false and very few scientists are creationist.

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PS: Most science has no bearing on religion whatever. Only a few fields find themselves constantly at odds with religionists.

Doug

I agree with all that you said, but this ^ bit is priceless! To the best of my knowledge, no scientific field is designed to "disprove" religion. It is often the religionists who charge into battle because they think their faith is under attack by new discoveries, theories, or hypotheses.

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"But now we have to consider another important set of factors: Is it science that turns people into atheists? Or is it atheism that turns people into scientists?" I don't consider the above an important factor as to why one would choose a career in science. Surely there are far more relevant influences & circumstances that one's religious beliefs or lack of, i.e. IQ, curiosity, social/familial expectations, education level, having the self-discipline necessary to complete one's studies, level of commitment, etc.

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You raise some good points.

I'd like to extend your question, though: would it matter to Christians if ALL scientists were atheists?

It shouldn't. If belief is by faith, then facts don't matter. Science and scientists would be irrelevant to religion. But, obviously, some Christians think facts are important, thereby opening the door to science.

If you have faith, you don't need science. If you need to use science to prop up your faith, then you don't really believe.

Doug

Very first reply and literally nailed it with a homerun, no need to add more, bravo!

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science should be objective and therefor contain as little religious influence as possible.

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"But now we have to consider another important set of factors: Is it science that turns people into atheists? Or is it atheism that turns people into scientists?" I don't consider the above an important factor as to why one would choose a career in science. Surely there are far more relevant influences & circumstances that one's religious beliefs or lack of, i.e. IQ, curiosity, social/familial expectations, education level, having the self-discipline necessary to complete one's studies, level of commitment, etc.

Several of my daughter's college friends are fundamentalist Christians. Two of them majored in geology. Both had a great deal of trouble fitting their religious beliefs into the concept of deep time - so much trouble that though they both graduated, neither has been able to land a good job in geology. One works for a creationist "think tank" and complains that they are directing her to "discover" things that are scientifically impossible. The other is in a low-paying administrative post in state government that doesn't have to consider things like evolution and geologic time.

I think that the process of training in the sciences weeds out most fundamentalists. They must either change their thinking or find a new career (This doesn't apply to all scientific fields, just those that deal with life and earth sciences.

Doug

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Several of my daughter's college friends are fundamentalist Christians. Two of them majored in geology. Both had a great deal of trouble fitting their religious beliefs into the concept of deep time - so much trouble that though they both graduated, neither has been able to land a good job in geology. One works for a creationist "think tank" and complains that they are directing her to "discover" things that are scientifically impossible. The other is in a low-paying administrative post in state government that doesn't have to consider things like evolution and geologic time.

I think that the process of training in the sciences weeds out most fundamentalists. They must either change their thinking or find a new career (This doesn't apply to all scientific fields, just those that deal with life and earth sciences.

Doug

Can I just say that I find the term "creationist think tank" an oxymoron. I think there's a whole other education that begins we find ourselves out in the big world and exposed to people & ideas that are different than ours; it's like moving from a closed system to an open system where anything can, and often does, happen.

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One fact that concerns some Christians and elates some atheists is that 93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most elite scientific organizations in the United States, do not believe in God. Atheist Sam Harris says that, “This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.”

Should Christians be concerned that so many of these intelligent people don’t believe in God? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

Check the numbers

First, the National Academy of Sciences represents a small number of scientists. The Academy itself comprises only about 2,000 members, while there are more than 2 million scientists employed in the United States as a whole. This means that the NAS only represents about one-tenth of one percent of all scientists in the nation. Using this statistic alone to prove scientists are overwhelmingly atheists would be inaccurate.

A more accurate description comes from the Pew Research Center, which reported in 2009 that 51 percent of scientists believe that God or some higher power exists, while 41 percent of scientists reject both of those concepts. In addition, while only 2 percent of the general population identifies as atheist, 17 percent of scientists identify themselves with that term.

But now we have to consider another important set of factors: Is it science that turns people into atheists? Or is it atheism that turns people into scientists?

Elaine Ecklund’s recent book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think shows that scientists are more religious than we realize. In the course of her interviews she found that many scientists reject religion for personal reasons prior to becoming scientists (as opposed to rejecting religion solely on scientific grounds).

It is unfortunate that secular people feel more compelled to study the natural sciences than religious people, because some of our greatest scientific discoveries have come from people of faith (Gregor Mendel and Fr. Georges Lemaitre instantly come to mind).

Indeed, I have the pleasure of having a father-in-law who is a devout Catholic and a literal rocket scientist.

Continue: http://www.strangeno...atheist-scienti

http://www.strangeno...ist-scientists/

In my opinion it is irrelevant what scientists believe in. Belief is belief, science is science. The two are not mutually exclusive. Science cannot prove or disprove God because a belief in God is just that, a belief. People of faith would be foolish to cling to beliefs that are shown by science to be false.

As his holiness the Dalai Lama XIV said,

“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”

I think all faiths would be wise to listen to this line of thought.

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In all honesty - personally I'd like to see scientific world just atheist, just devoid of religion. Not out of hostility, but just to see them all think clearly, without bias coming from clashes of their work with their personal views or religious backgrounds.

It's known through our history how personal views and/or agendas of scientific circles obstructed, delayed, transformed or completely hid away many discoveries, significant or not. Some of it in the name of religion, some in the name of personal pride, corruption or just some dude in his high-chair not willing to accept a change because he's too old and too important to do that. Plenty of such behavior with old british lords/scientists, rejecting new discoveries not because they were invalid, but because it meant that THEY would have to adjust what they know in the process... so instead, they used their positions to make sure that no such discovery got reported.

Same actions may be happening today, we're not all that different today as we've been back then.

So yes, if anything, I'm more than happy to see scientific world devoid of religion, just to keep their thought process focused without internal struggle of trying to marry their work with their religion. In the end of the day - atheist scientist couldn't care less if his work is used to contribute to some, say Christian man's argument, because he doesn't care about any of it, whether it's used to bolster this mans opinion or to weaken it, as an atheist it's just none of his concern.

On the other hand - I wouldn't trust a devout Christian scientist working on something that is fundamentally in clash and directly against his religious view and upbringing, that he would publish all of it, unchanged, untainted, without him/her trying to twist it in some way to bolster his religion.

Just my own view on this.

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Some of it in the name of religion, some in the name of personal pride, corruption or just some dude in his high-chair not willing to accept a change because he's too old and too important to do that. Plenty of such behavior with old british lords/scientists, rejecting new discoveries not because they were invalid, but because it meant that THEY would have to adjust what they know in the process...

There are few things sadder than to see a guy who has spent his entire professional life working on one problem only to see new research show that he was wrong.

Doug

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There are few things sadder than to see a guy who has spent his entire professional life working on one problem only to see new research show that he was wrong.

Doug

Both yes and no. It is indeed a bummer to put it mildly, but if said person has by his or her work contributed to finding the right solution, there is some satisfaction in that.

Hawking was wrong for, what, 30 years on how black holes shed energy and out of it came Hawking radiation. Admittedly, he found the mistake himself and owned up to it, not exactly the same.

Cheers,

Badeskov

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In all honesty - personally I'd like to see scientific world just atheist, just devoid of religion. Not out of hostility, but just to see them all think clearly, without bias coming from clashes of their work with their personal views or religious backgrounds.

...

I just wanted to comment on this part.

Frankly, I can't see the point and I also think that scientist, as everybody else, should be allowed to follow their faith.

I have worked with quite a few religious scientists and they were as objective as atheist scientists (I am personally an atheist). Whatever their findings, they would report it factually and to them that was just how God had created the universe.

The radical ones is the problem, but they typically don't last long. Peer review takes care of that.

Cheers,

Badeskov

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I don't see why it should be a sign of concern. Religious belief is (mostly) a matter of faith. One shouldn't just align to the side of the majority. And even when that side happens to include some of the most intelligent and prestigious names in the world, the fact that faith is not something that can be materialistically proven should be enough for believers to hold onto their beliefs. It's not like the case when the general public changes their views on a scientific hypothesis when mainstream science does. Unlike scientific theories, hypothesis, etc, religious beliefs are not based off of testable evidences -- so scientists not believing in them does not disprove your faith anymore than scientists believing in 'em should.

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Should Christians be concerned that so many of these intelligent people don’t believe in God? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

Most scientific fields have no impact whatever on religion. What is the effect of hydrogen spin resonance on Christianity? How does the interior of a black hole relate to Jesus' death on the cross? Does the location of the heliopause have any effect on heaven? In these areas there is no reason to believe that devout Christians (or any other faith) can't do just as good a job as an atheist.

Even when there would seem to be conflict, it doesn't always exist. I know a devout Southern Baptist, a biologist, who believes that from time to time, god simply suspends the laws of nature. During these suspensions, anything can happen (one of Mr. Walker's "miracles," perhaps). The rest of the time, natural law prevails. Thus, scientific findings do not conflict with his beliefs because they do not apply during a suspension. He recognizes that there is no basis for this belief, but believes it anyway. That's faith.

Doug

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people take things way to far than they should sometimes, just saying

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There are few things sadder than to see a guy who has spent his entire professional life working on one problem only to see new research show that he was wrong.

That hasn't bothered a lot of UFO and Bigfoot investigators. They seem to be making more money than ever. Even the Ancient Astronauts industry has started up again after it had been completely debunked in the late 70's.

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That hasn't bothered a lot of UFO and Bigfoot investigators. They seem to be making more money than ever. Even the Ancient Astronauts industry has started up again after it had been completely debunked in the late 70's.

Any field where there might be some money is plagued by charlatans. That includes both science and religion.

Doug

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