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Subject:  Re: Religionists miss the scale of things Date:  3/13/2005  3:14 PM
Author:  madmikeyd Number:  143656 of 515549

<<Recently, Edward J. Larson, a science historian at the University of Georgia, and Larry Witham>>

A further link to their study of the wider sample of scientists:

<. . .In two separate mailings, Leuba sent his survey to a total of 1,000 scientists drawn randomly from the 1910 edition of American Men of Science. He received about a 70 percent response. Similarly, we randomly drew 1,000 names from the current edition of the same volume, now called American Men and Women of Science. Our response was about 60 percent. We stuck to Leuba's apportionment: Half biologists and a quarter each in math and physics/astronomy.

On the quirky side, Leuba's survey found that about 20 percent of the scientists who did not believe in God nevertheless believed in personal immortality. In the 1996 response, the breakdown was closer to what might be expected: respondents tended either to believe in both God and immortality, or to reject both. Leuba defined the divine in very conventional terms: "A God to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer." We believed that because such traditional tenets still prevail in American culture, retaining Leuba's 1916 definition of God--hearing prayers and giving immortality--still was the best simple question. If respondents in Leuba's time did not agree with his survey in general--one respondent said, "This is a lot of damned rot!"--we received unsolicited comments that the definition of God did not allow for enough variation. "Why such a narrow definition [of God]?" asked one 1996 respondent, writing in the survey margin. "I believe in God, but I don't believe that one can expect an answer to prayer."

. . .

Topic of Question: 1916 Survey 1996 Survey

A. Belief in Personal God

1. Personal Belief 41.8% 39.3%
2. Personal Disbelief 41.5% 45.3%
3. Doubt or Agnosticism 16.7% 14.5%

B. Belief in Human Immortality

1. Personal Belief 50.6% 38.0%
2. Personal Disbelief about 20% 46.9%
3. Doubt or Agnosticism about 30% 15.0%

C. Desire for Immortality

1. Intense 34% 9.9%
2. Moderate 39% 25.9%
3. Not at all 27% 64.2%>

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