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In the scientific community

  1. Jan 29, 2009 #1
    Is the concept of god frowned upon?.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2009 #2

    Q_Goest

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    I think it's the concept of supernatural explanations for phenomena that is frowned upon because we expect to see, and have always been able to find, a relationship between cause and affect.
     
  4. Jan 29, 2009 #3
    Wouldnt god fall into that category though?.
     
  5. Jan 29, 2009 #4

    mgb_phys

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    As an explanation for phenomena yes.
    As moral philosophy - who cares?
     
  6. Jan 29, 2009 #5

    CRGreathouse

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    The OP, presumably.
     
  7. Jan 29, 2009 #6

    baywax

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    Which one?
     
  8. Jan 29, 2009 #7
    It would be interesting if somebody knew some statistics concerning this. After all, Newbie1 did not ask about anyone's personal opinion about God, but about the opinion in the scientific community.
     
  9. Jan 29, 2009 #8
    I can't speak about the scientific community in general. In the physics community I would say that though the idea of a deity is not necessarily frowed upon, the understanding of God as portrayed in the Christian religion is seen as somewhat foolish. Now, I'm in a rather strange position in that I am an evangelical Christian (i.e. I believe that the Bible is fully accurate, that God has a say in how I live my life, etc.), and I am also a PhD student in astrophysics. What is rather strange is that there are two other evangelical Christians in my department, both of whom are also in astrophysics research groups. This means that my interaction cross section with the people who frown upon the concept of God is probably larger than for the average theistic physicist (due to my particular brand of theism), and the effect is likely more pronounced in my reference frame.

    So what observable effects can be measured from this bias in the community? Let me start by saying that physicists certainly aren't out on witchhunts to root out believers in their midst. I receive a bit of disdain from certain people in the department, but that's about it. Mgb_phys spoke correctly: if a physicist's religion is a moral philosophy, no one really cares. Problems tend to arise when one views the faith as objectively true rather than just an arbitary moral/metaphysical standpoint. And I am not referring to the intelligent design controversy. It tends to be rather difficult to be active in the church and also proficient in academia, since academics are typically required to work long hours, weekends, etc. The bias against any sort of active faith among physicists doesn't abate this problem. I imagine it is thus more difficult for religious people to rise through the ranks to attain the status of tenured professor. Perhaps this positive feedback mechanism is ultimately responsible for the secular bias in physics, but I'm not really sure.

    So to summarize, yes physicists do frown on the concept of God, and perhaps this can have long-term effects on people who believe in God. But on a day to day basis it doesn't matter all that much.
     
  10. Jan 29, 2009 #9

    Gokul43201

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    Some statistics:

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

    Original paper: Nature, 394, 313 (1998)
    Note: I don't understand some of the numbers in Table 1, since they don't add up to 100% in all columns. Maybe there is some non-zero intersection between categories that is not immediately obvious.
     
  11. Jan 29, 2009 #10
    The OPs question was for God and i'm pretty sure speaking of SPECIFIC gods is against forum rules arunma... so please don't do that this could turn out to be an interesting conversation if it were allowed to continue but it most likely will not be allowed with people posting of such and such a deity...

    ANYWAYS

    the OP originally asked is the concept of GOD frowned upon within the scientific community.

    i say similar to what Q_Goest posted that they frown upon having 'supernatural' explanations for phenomena.

    As for God being a supernatural entity.. i do not think this is the case certain people may hold these beliefs but that does not mean that ALL GODS are supernatural explanations. I.e. Newtonian 'first cause'.
     
  12. Jan 29, 2009 #11
    Hello Sorry. I'm aware of the rules, and I certainly don't wish to cause this thread to be closed. The forum guidelines say,

    As such, I am attempting to be careful not to assert the truth of any religious system for the purposes of this discussion. If I do, I hope that a moderator will inform me before prematurely closing this thread. I'll certainly be happy to withdraw any comments that are in violation of the forum rules. However, in this discussion it is pertinent to refer to specific deities, since the OP's question pertains to physicists' bias in regards to various concepts of God, and the bias is a function of the specific god that we are talking about. I believe that this is an important point in this discussion, which is why I raised the issue. The question of whether physicists frown upon the concept of god cannot be answered without refering to specific gods. It would be much like trying to answer the question "what is the Lagrangian formulation of classical mechanics?" with a yes or no.
     
  13. Jan 29, 2009 #12

    baywax

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    I don't know what GOD is. So, its like asking me if I frown upon PIONS which I have very little knowledge about.

    How do you "frown upon" something?
    Do you have to get your eyebrows right in there and make a frowning motion?
     
  14. Jan 29, 2009 #13

    Gokul43201

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    To compare data among scientists (see my previous post) with that among the general population, note that 90% of all Americans believe in a God, and 84% believe in the immortality of the soul, while 7% of NAS scientists believe in a God and 8% believe in the immortality of the soul.
    http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=359

    PS: Note also that the feeling, held by some people, that a large fraction of college students (irrespective of field of study) are atheist, is not supported by the evidence.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  15. Jan 30, 2009 #14
    For me, its more of a smirk than a frown.
     
  16. Jan 31, 2009 #15
    Well why do people frown at all?

    Psychologically a frown sends a message of disapproval. Also, at a psychological and sociological level people tend to accept other people with similar minds sets and beliefs more than someone who is different. (that stems from evolution)

    "birds of feather flock together"

    Scientists are people too, and are subjected to the same laws as anyone.
     
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