Scientists Tend to be Atheists

One fact that concerns some Christians and elates some atheists is that 93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most elite scientific organizations in the United States, do not believe in God.

Trent Horn, the author of this blog post, then tells us that he is not concerned:

First, the National Academy of Sciences represents a small number of scientists. The Academy itself comprises only about 2,000 members, while there are more than 2 million scientists employed in the United States as a whole. This means that the NAS only represents about one-tenth of one percent of all scientists in the nation. Using this statistic alone to prove scientists are overwhelmingly atheists would be inaccurate.

I guess Horn does not believe in sampling, either. He should probably check with some of our political pollsters who will argue that if the sample is random, results can be projected to larger populations quite accurately, within some margin of error. Ok, it might not be 93 percent of scientists in general who are atheists. Maybe it’s 89 percent, but maybe 97 percent. I don’t think the exact number matters. What matters that the gap between the general population is huge, and therefore it should give one pause to think.

Horn then asks whether atheism creates scientists or science causes atheism.

I have a hard time buying into the concept that how I feel about religion or how I don’t feel about religion somehow affects my interest in science, my ability to grasp scientific concepts or my passion to spend years of hard work in college becoming a scientist.

To be clear, I am not a scientist. But I know that to be a good scientist you have to be intelligent. I have taken courses in calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, physics, and statistics, all just basic prerequisites to even be allowed to take real science courses. I have a sense for what it takes to become a scientist.

So the statement scientists are intelligent is probably true most of the time. The statement scientists are atheists also appears to be true some 90 percent of the time (to be argued). From those two statements one cannot conclude that atheists are intelligent, or inversely that intelligent people are atheists. It only makes a statement about scientists.

I know some very intelligent people with who hold Ph.D. and M.D degrees who are religious. But in general, one could argue that people who deal with factual analysis of the real world tend to reject religion.

You might want to browse Catholic Answers for some interesting articles and interpretations. It’s a well-organized blog with good writing.