A while back, I offhandedly remarked that “most scientists believe in God.” For some mysterious reason, I thought I remembered some survey claiming that around 80% of all scientists believed in God.

Adam Reed was kind enough to send me a correction, which I am just now getting around to posting. He wrote:

I know you can do your own Google search, but my top results were:

1. http://solon.cma.univie.ac.at/~neum/sciandf/contrib/clari.txt E.J. Larson and L. Witham, Scientists are still keeping the faith, Nature 386 (3 April 1997), 435-436. (The main source for the 40% figure)

2. http://www.americanatheist.org/aut98/T1/editor.html Larson and Witham (Nature, Vol. 394, No. 6691, 23 July 1998, p. 313) surveyed members of the National Academy of Sciences and found that among these greater scientists only 7% believed in a personal god. Biological scientists had the lowest level of belief in a personal god – 5.5% as compared to 7.5% among physicists and astronomers.

The discrepancy is probably a matter of the quality of scientists in the two surveys. (1) had a sample typical of all people who make a living at science, so that it might include, for example, a quality control technician with an MS in chemistry. (2) measured NAS members; my own experience at MIT, Rockefeller, and Bell Labs comes closer to the latter.

Anyway, I doubt that the 80% figure is based on a sample of anything better than, say, the Creation Science faculty at Bob Jones University.

I am very pleased to stand corrected.

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