Order and God among physicists

  • #1
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I read an article online several months ago (can't remember source) that reported a study with results showing that physicists are more likely to believe in God and immortality than biological scientists. I remember one possible explanation provided was that physicists see order and harmony on a level that is larger and more grand than biologists. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Would people out there claim this is a bogus explanation?
 

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  • #2
Evo
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This might be it. I will look to see if i can find the link to the abstract.

Summary of a paper that appeared in the 23 July 1998 issue of Nature by Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham: "Leading Scientists Still Reject God." Nature, 1998; 394, 313.]

Larson and Witham present the results of a replication of 1913 and 1933 surveys by James H. Leuba. In those surveys, Leuba mailed a questionnaire to leading scientists asking about their belief in "a God in intellectual and affective communication with humankind" and in "personal immortality". Larson and Witham used the same wording [as in the Leuba studies], and sent their questionnaire to 517 members of the [U.S.] National Academy of Sciences from the biological and physical sciences (the latter including mathematicians, physicists and astronomers). The return rate was slightly over 50%.

The results were as follows (figures in %):


BELIEF IN PERSONAL GOD 1914 1933 1998

Personal belief 27.7 15 7.0
Personal disbelief 52.7 68 72.2
Doubt or agnosticism 20.9 17 20.8

BELIEF IN IMMORTALITY 1914 1933 1998

Personal belief 35.2 18 7.9
Personal disbelief 25.4 53 76.7
Doubt or agnosticism 43.7 29 23.3

Note: The 1998 immortality figures add up to more than 100%. The misprint is in the original. The 76.7% is likely too hi

The authors elaborated on these figures:

Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality).

http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm
 
  • #3
ZapperZ
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"Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality)"

To me, that's a statistically insignificant difference (5.5% versus 7.5%). One can hardly make any kind of rational argument that the OP is trying based on such a small difference.

Zz.
 
  • #4
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Isn't the belief in a personal God referring to having faith in something like the Father in Christianity? If that's the case, i am surprised so many physicists (7.5%) believe in the Father, the talking snake that hands out fruit and in God being so tired that he takes a day off to rest after working hard for 6 days to create the universe.
 
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  • #5
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Isn't the belief in a personal God referring to having faith in something like the Father in Christianity? If that's the case, i am surprised so many physicists (7.5%) believe in the Father, the talking snake that hands out fruit and in God being so tired that he takes a day off to rest after working hard for 6 days to create the universe.

They (if they were Christian) would probably be more Christian Liberalist. The other religions I'm not sure of the terms. Basically they have the ability to pick and choose which parts of the scripture they believe and don't believe yet maintain a faith in the God.


I don't think that 5.5% to 7.5% is a major difference.
 

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