Here are some results of a PEW Research Center study on the religious and political beliefs of scientists:
|42% — Scientists ages 18-34 who say they believe in God.|
|28% — Scientists 65 and older who say this.|
What does this mean? Does it mean that an increasing number of scientists believe in God? Or does it mean that young scientists give up their faith as they grow older? Unfortunately, this study is just a snapshot in time. It would be helpful to see the results of similar surveys done over time, or the results of studies that follow the same scientists throughout their careers.
|3% — Percentage of scientists who are “white evangelicals”.|
|19% — Percentage of Americans who are “white evangelicals”.|
What does this mean? Either we evangelicals are doing a pitiful job of preparing and motivating our young people to enter the sciences, or they fall away from faith once they do enter the sciences. I place part of the blame for both of these possibilities on the dominance of young-Earth creationism in our Christian educational system, whether in our private schools, home schools, or churches. Students are either scared away from the sciences because of the perceived warfare between science and faith, or they are ill-equipped to see God’s world as it is, especially in terms of Earth history. There are likely to be a number of other factors as well.
|Field||Believe in God
||Believe in higher power
||Believe in neither
|Biology and medicine||32||19||41|
|Physics and astronomy||29||14||46|
There is not as much of a difference between the different fields of science as I had been led to believe by some other studies. I had thought that astronomers were more likely to believe in God or some sort of a higher power than other scientists, but according to this study this isn’t the case.
In the geosciences, 47% of scientists are in the “believe in neither” category: atheists and agnostics. But at 30%, we theists are not all that far behind, and I find this encouraging.
One more item from the study that I found interesting, though it related to politics rather than religious beliefs:
|Statistic #4 — Party affiliation among scientists
- Is there a trend towards increasing faith among scientists, as indicated by statistic #1, or will these young scientists lose faith as they grow older?
- Why are only 3% of scientists evangelical Christians? What can we evangelicals do about it?
- Is there any significance to the differences between the various fields of science? Are chemists most likely to believe in God because their science doesn’t have as direct of a relationship to the issue of origins?
- Why do only 6% of scientists identify themselves as Republican? What can be done about it?
Grace and Peace