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Subject:  Re: Religionists miss the scale of things Date:  3/13/2005  3:05 PM
Author:  madmikeyd Number:  143655 of 519604

<<Recently, Edward J. Larson, a science historian at the University of Georgia, and Larry Witham, a writer, polled scientists listed in American Men and Women of Science on their religious beliefs. Among this general group, a reasonably high proportion, 40 percent, claimed to believe in a "personal God" who would listen to their prayers. But when the researchers next targeted members of the National Academy of Sciences, an elite coterie if ever there was one, belief in a personal God was 7 percent, the flip of the American public at large.>>

Another reference to the same study:

<by Tom Flynn

The same authors who reported no decline in religious belief among American scientists since 1916 now announce that, during the same period, faith declined sharply among natural scientists of top rank.

In a letter to Nature (July 23, 1998, p. 313), University of Georgia historian of science Edward J. Larson and Washington Times reporter Larry Witham described a survey of religious beliefs they administered to 517 American scientists who belong to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Larson and Witham's survey closely replicated a survey of 400 "greater" scientists performed in 1914 by psychologist James H. Leuba and repeated by Leuba in 1933. Leuba, an atheist, expected religious belief to decline with increasing education and accomplishment, and it did. Leuba found distinguished scientists significantly less likely to believe in God and immortality than their less-accomplished contemporaries. Further, religious belief among top scientists sagged further during the 19 years between Leuba's two studies.

Larson and Witham polled NAS members in a mix of disciplines mirroring that originally polled by Leuba. The results seem stark: belief in God and immortality were precipitously lower than what Leuba reported. "Among the top natural scientists," Larson and Witham observe, "disbelief is greater than ever - almost total." The accompanying table compares belief, disbelief, or doubt regarding God and human immortality as measured in 1914, 1933, and 1998.

Biological scientists rejected beliefs in God and immortality by 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively; among physical scientists, those beliefs were rejected by 79.0% and 76.3% of respondents. "Most of the rest were agnostic on both issues," Larson and Witham report, "with few believers." Of all disciplines polled, mathematicians reported the highest level of positive belief in God and immortality, biologists the lowest.>

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