Religion Among Academic Scientists

It turns out that science and religion are not at odds for a large number of scientists. That's the conclusion of Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund who is the associate director of Rice's Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life.

"I interviewed nearly 300 top scientists in the U.S., then did a survey of nearly 17-hundred, and over 50% of them are religious to some extent and nearly 70% think of themselves as spiritual."

And, says Ecklund, for most it is not difficult to combine both science and religion in their lives.

"It's something they figured out long ago how to reconcile these things. I'll tell you right now though, ξthey are evolutionists and they don't see any incompatibility between being an evolutionist and being, for some, very religious."

Ecklund's study also found that scientists turn to religion in the professional capacities.

"They often appeal to religion. Even those who are not religious told me that sometimes they bring in religious insights from the religion of their youth to make ethical decisions that have to do with science and so we shouldn't see these things as incompatible because it seems that both of them are very much needed in our society."

Ecklund's study, Religion Among Academic Scientists is, the first of its kind in more than 20-years to gather data on this subject.

To read more on this study, visit http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/abs/10.1525/sp.2007.54.2.289.

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