August 13, 2005

ONE GODLY PEOPLE (via Political Theory):

Natural scientists are less likely to believe in God than are social scientists (Eureka Alert, 8/11/05)

With a $283,000 grant from the Templeton Foundation, [Elaine Howard Ecklund, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at Rice] mailed $15 and a request to participate in a 10-minute on-line survey to 2,148 faculty at 21 of the top U.S. research universities. She phoned those who did not take the survey to give them a chance to answer questions by phone. After seven weeks, more than 1,600 had completed the survey either on-line or by phone. The final response rate of 75 percent was "quite high" for social science research, Ecklund said.

The 36 questions on the survey examined a variety of topics, including religious beliefs, participation in religious services, spiritual practices, and the intersection of spiritual beliefs and research ethics.

When Ecklund compared faculty in the natural science disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology with those in the social science disciplines of sociology, psychology, political science and economics, she found "distinct frameworks" for the ways in which they view religion and spirituality as well as how they make ethical decisions related to their research. Nearly 38 percent of natural scientists surveyed said they did not believe in God, but only 31 percent of the social scientists gave that response.

Among each of the two general groups, one discipline stood out: Forty-one percent of the biologists and 27 percent of the political scientists said they don't believe in God.

The numbers are high for Americans in general, but obviously much lower than rationalists would have hoped. The 41% of biologists, of course, just call their god Natural Selection. And, once you leave the rarefied air of academia, the practicing biologists are much more faithfull,,1,5666020,print.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed>Treating the body, respecting the spirit: According to a new study, religion has a strong influence on many physicians (Judith Graham, August 12, 2005, Chicago Tribune)
For all the technical achievement of modern medicine, spirituality and religiosity has a surprisingly strong presence in the lives of many doctors, new research shows.

According to a recent study by Dr. Farr Curlin of the University of Chicago, three out of four physicians believe in God, and nearly six out of 10 believe in some sort of afterlife--far higher percentages than for most scientists.

More than half of physicians said their faith influenced their medical practice, according to the study, published in June in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Some areas where medicine meets religion have captured headlines recently, including pharmacists who won't prescribe emergency contraception because they think it has an abortionlike effect.

But doctors' faith often is tested in less obvious ways, Curlin suggests, as patients suffering from melancholy, discouragement, loneliness and despair--all maladies of the spirit--ask for help with drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, eating disorders and other conditions.

"You can't make sense of what is going on with the patient on a human level if you have an understanding that is strictly biomedical," Curlin said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2005 4:09 PM

Of course, the survey results would have been different had she included non-academic scientists in her study.

Posted by: Dave P at August 13, 2005 1:42 PM

Has Harry shown up here lately?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 13, 2005 2:26 PM

Eager, that is -- not Potter, Reid, or Belafonte.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 13, 2005 2:30 PM

The stronger correlation between religion and the social "sciences" should surprise noone.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 13, 2005 3:04 PM


Yes, he's busy arguing that the decline of France is a function of Natural Selection.

Posted by: oj at August 13, 2005 3:25 PM


It's probably not outside the margin of error--both are pretty godly.

Posted by: oj at August 13, 2005 3:28 PM