Are Biologists Mostly Atheists?

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  • #1
MikeX
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Just wondering.... I know a couple who are but I don't want to make a generalization.
 

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  • #2
JamesU
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I would say the majority of bilogists on PF are athiests
 
  • #3
neurocomp2003
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i wonder if that applies to physicists, psychologists and chemists and any interdisplinary field among the 4.
 
  • #4
cronxeh
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I'm pretty sure they are in direct disagreement with any major religion there is today, perhaps with minor exceptions pertaining to the values rather than believes. Lets face it folks - there is no such thing as hell or heaven. Or maybe there is - but who cares, really? There seems to be no logic for life itself - that is there doesnt seem to be any purpose for existence, so why should there be purpose for afterlife?

These things coupled with extremely humbling complexity of life are all too confusing for any mind. I'll even go so far as to say for any normal mind. Perhaps there is something to the "hallucinations" some drug ab/users experience - after all, those are chemicals, and we are made of similar chemicals. Who has a right to claim its not real or that it isnt credible?
 
  • #5
Monique
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MikeX said:
Just wondering.... I know a couple who are but I don't want to make a generalization.
Not necessarily, I know biology professors who go to church every sunday. Their believes do not interfere with the work they do everyday.
 
  • #6
Pengwuino
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What does biology have to do with religion?

I doubt they've wasted their time and gone out and polled everyone who refers to themselves as a "biologist" to see if they are religious. Since there's no correlation... its bad statistics.
 
  • #7
cronxeh
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Biology has pretty much everything to do with religion.
 
  • #8
arildno
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Among scientists, the percentage of biologists professing themselves to be religious is lower than, say, among physicists and mathematicians.

This has been shown in several studies, although I'm not in a habit to store links to such studies.
 
  • #9
TRCSF
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I remember a survey from Nature probably, oh, seven or eight years ago now that said the majority of biologists were either agnostic or atheist. I don't remember the exact number.

All biologists believe in evolution, if that's what you're getting at.
 
  • #10
Moonbear
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I know quite a few biologists who are religious...Jewish, Christian or Muslim. I don't know any who are members of churches that preach against believing in evolution though, if that's what you think the conflict is.
 
  • #11
Phobos
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Hmm...I know I saw some recent poll numbers on this very question. Now if only I can find it again. For now, I have this news bit from NSCE regarding the recent NY Times articles...

Earlier in the article, Dean observed, "disdain for religion is far
From universal among scientists," and later cited the results of Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham's 1996 survey among natural scientists as to their beliefs in God and immortality, with 39.6% of respondents agreeing with "I believe in a God in intellectual and affective communication with mankind, i.e., a God to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer" (and about 45.5% disagreeing and 14.9% expressing agnosticism). According to Witham's Where Darwin Meets the Bible (Oxford University Press, 2002), 42.5% of the responding biologists agreed, 43.5% disagreed, and 14% expressed agnosticism.

Also, this...
http://www.beliefnet.org/story/1/story_193_1.html
...which seems to indicate that 60-70% of biologists are agnostic or atheist.
 
  • #12
MikeX
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Well, I think it's OK to believe in something and have some faith, but if you are a biologist and don't believe in evolution thinking "intelligent design" is true, then you shouldn't be a biologist. Simple as that.
 
  • #13
Pengwuino
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cronxeh said:
Biology has pretty much everything to do with religion.

Think you might want to go learn what religion actually is then...
 
  • #14
MikeX
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neurocomp2003 said:
i wonder if that applies to physicists, psychologists and chemists and any interdisplinary field among the 4.

I higly doubt the correlation is high in physicists, and psychologists, but biologists are defintely the top, then perhaps chemists.
 
  • #15
cronxeh
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Biology is the study of the subject at hand which happens to study object in question. Any questions? k thx come again
 
  • #16
Monique
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MikeX said:
if you are a biologist and don't believe in evolution thinking "intelligent design" is true, then you shouldn't be a biologist. Simple as that.
Think again. You can believe in a god and evolution at the same time. The question is not whether biologists believe in Adam and Eve, the question is whether they believe in a higher power.
 
  • #17
selfAdjoint
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Monique said:
Think again. You can believe in a god and evolution at the same time. The question is not whether biologists believe in Adam and Eve, the question is whether they believe in a higher power.

Well no, Monique, the question is whether they think that actions by that higher power are necessary to the development of species, and that that necessity can be proved. That's what ID claims. But ID has been debunked, so a biologist, however devout, shouldn't be supporting it.
 
  • #18
Monique
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Maybe god made man out of monkeys, no one can prove that there is no god so why can't a biologist believe in one. ID stands separate from the discussion of believing in a god or being an atheist.

People who believe in evolution aren't per definition atheist, are they?
 
  • #19
Genecks
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I believe god is the personification of the universe. Since I believe the universe exists, I believe god exists. Simple as that.
 
  • #20
hexhunter
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i think generally alot of scientists believe in their own style of religion, rather than being a follower to a church or something, like Einstein...
 
  • #21
Moonbear
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Monique said:
Maybe god made man out of monkeys, no one can prove that there is no god so why can't a biologist believe in one. ID stands separate from the discussion of believing in a god or being an atheist.

People who believe in evolution aren't per definition atheist, are they?
I agree with you on this. The original question asked if biologists are atheists or religious. It didn't ask anything at all about any particular religion or belief system. You can also believe in a god or gods without being religious...one may think there is no need for religious rituals to recognize the existence of their god. Believing in a god or having a religion does not require believing in intelligent design. There is no reason one can't believe there is a god and that god gave the universe a little "zap" billions of years ago to create the first matter and then sat back and watched what happened.
 
  • #22
selfAdjoint
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As long as your religion doesn't require you to believe false things about nature, there is no problem. But, firstly, ID is false, so a sincere scientist shouldn't believe in it. And secondly my experience of religion is that even if the powers that be are cool with evolution now, you have no guarantee that they will continue to be. If you acknowledge two sources of truth, religious dogma and observation, then you can expect them to diverge sometimes. Religious leaders are big about the two sources not disagreeing but what they mean by that is "All your truths are belong to us now."
 
  • #23
saltydog
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I just think you're hard-headed if you're knowledgable about biology, chemistry, evolution and the historical struggle of man in his demon-haunted world and yet you still hold on to religious beliefs. Down here where I live, we have a word for that: cooyon.
 
  • #24
Monique
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selfAdjoint said:
But, firstly, ID is false, so a sincere scientist shouldn't believe in it.
Yeah, but that is not the discussion.
If you acknowledge two sources of truth, religious dogma and observation, then you can expect them to diverge sometimes.
Again, the question was atheism not whether biologists belong to the Christian or Protestant church. You do not need to be religious in order to believe in a god. There are so many different religions, that does not mean that there are that many gods. This is about the basic belief that there is something else.
 
  • #25
Garth
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For information: The Society of Ordained Scientists is a dispersed ecumenical preaching order of priest-scientists, we have non-ordained members as associates. For the purposes of defining membership (both full and associate) the designation "scientists" refers to those having a qualification and/or experience at a professional level of science or technology. Of our 86 full members 8 are biologists, 4 biochemists and 7 in medical research. The other disciplines include mathematics, physics, astrophysics, engineering, chemists, pharmacologists and meteorology. We have two John Templeton prizewinners, one biologist (Arthur Peacocke) and one physicist (John Polkinghorne).
Make of that what you will; in my experience the statement: "Among scientists, the percentage of biologists professing themselves to be religious is lower than, say, among physicists and mathematicians" is probably true, with the exception of the medical field.

Garth
 
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  • #26
russ_watters
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I think this is the key:
Monique said:
People who believe in evolution aren't per definition atheist, are they?
Yes, people seem to be making that logical leap here and it just isn't the way it needs to be. I, for example, fully accept evolution, but I also consider myself a Christian. How? I don't take the Bible literally where it conflicts with science. Simple as that and as a result, it is quite easy to keep my faith and my science separate.

There is, however, some merit to this:
hexhunter said:
i think generally alot of scientists believe in their own style of religion
Scientists are, by definition, free thinkers, so it only makes sense that they wouldn't blindy and absolutely accept religious dogma.

And to beat a dead horse a little more....
Monique said:
Again, the question was atheism not [insert random specific religion/belief here]......

This is about the basic belief that there is something else.
Yes - people are mixing things here that are not necessarily linked.
 
  • #27
Lisa!
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I always thought an atheist was a person who didn't believe in God, but it seems that you say someone is an atheist when s/he isn't religious! One can be spiritual but not religious and I don't think you can call this person " atheist"!
 
  • #28
Renge Ishyo
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The formal definition of an atheist is (from dictionary.com):

Atheist
n. One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

True scientists are taught to look for experimental evidence that can support or discredit a theory before reaching a definitive conclusion on an issue. So to outright deny the existence of a "God or Gods" (a condition to being an atheist) you would need to provide evidence that justifies your denial. Since no evidence exists that could justify taking such a stance, true scientists (no matter what branch they are in) are NOT atheists. Atheists are reaching a *conclusion* about something without any evidence, and that is clearly NOT in the spirit of science.

It would be a better position to take to say that you cannot say one way or another if a God exists because there is no experimental evidence at this point that directly proves or disproves his/her/it's existence in one way or another. Sure, you can use physical principles to disprove some of the "myth" in religion, but a "God" itself (as a being beyond our universe or however you define it) might actually exist. Without evidence, it just boils down to opinion. You can poke holes at some of the ideas in evolution the same way you can poke holes at religion. For example, do I really buy that the *entire process* of evolution that is occurring for every animal on the planet is really all forwarded by "random" mutations, implying that the whole process is one big accident? NO. It is quite possible that animals come "built in" with a mechanism that allows for adaptation to occur naturally. For someone to shoot that down, they would have to say "No no, I have proof that it is in fact strictly random, and cannot be a preprogrammed response built into the DNA like you suggest." The trouble is that no such proof exists. You need more evidence to reach a conclusion *either* way. It is so for evolution, and it is so for the topic of "God" as well.
 
  • #29
cronxeh
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Garth said:
with the exception of the medical field.

This is a very good point. Both my parents are medical doctors and when they found out I was agnostic/atheist they had a very, very, surprised look on their face. You can argue all you want about injustice in the world and all that, but they just shake their head and with wise eyes say "son... someday you'll understand"
 
  • #30
Intuitive
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Anybody work out an equasion for the existance of GOD yet?

Sorry, I had too ask. LOL!!!!!!
 
  • #31
Lisa!
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I think this thread is better to be in philosophy forum. I don't feel comfortable to continue this disscussion in biology part!
 
  • #32
quetzalcoatl9
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Intuitive said:
Anybody work out an equasion for the existance of GOD yet?

yes, and it is [itex]0 = 1[/itex]. The equation only makes sense if you suspend all logic. Read it over and over, a thousand times, then make sure that you spend at least 1 hr every sunday morning convincing yourself that it's true - and then eventually it will be.
 
  • #33
Garth
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Perhaps you might have the wrong equation? Try
1 = 1!
Garth
 
Last edited:
  • #34
quetzalcoatl9
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Garth said:
Perhaps you might have the wrong equation? Try
1 = 1!
Garth

By this you mean a trivial and worthless (not to mention self-referencial) result? Yes, I guess so.
 
  • #35
Intuitive said:
Anybody work out an equation for the existance of GOD yet?
When asked in the Hebrew Bible who it was, god said, "just call me I Am". Thus, a possible equation for god would be [I Am = I Am]. Now in philosophy, this equation can be reduced to [A=A], which is called the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity is called an axiomatic concept in philosophy, it cannot be derived from thinking, it must just be accepted as a true starting point in further discussion as long as one wants to use "logical" rules for argument. Thus, we can say that god is the Law of Identity personified, and the equation for god is [A=A].
 

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