Thursday, March 13, 2014


Percentage of American Scientists who Believe in God

According to a survey reported in the journal Nature in 1997, c. 40% of American biologists, physicists and mathematicians said they believed in a God to whom one may pray 'in expectation of receiving an answer.' The survey, by Edward J. Larson of the University of Georgia, was intended to replicate one conducted in 1916, and the results were virtually unchanged: 'In 1916, 1,000 leading American scientists were randomly chosen from American Men of Science and 41.8% believed God existed, 41.5% disbelieved, and 16.7% had doubts/did not know; however when the study was replicated 80 years later using American Men and Women of Science in 1996, results were very much the same with 39.3% believing God exists, 45.3% disbelieved, and 14.5% had doubts/did not know.' (
As a 2006 New York Times article reported: 'surveys show that roughly 40 percent of scientists believe in a God who actively communicates with humankind and to whom one may pray in expectation of answers...' (

According to a 2009 survey of members of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center, majority of scientists (51%) said they believe in 'God or a higher power', while 41% say they do not believe in God or a higher power (the other 8% are presumably agnostic). More specifically: '33% of those polled believe in God, 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power, and 41% did not believe in either God or a higher power... 17% were atheists, 11% were agnostics, 20% were nothing in particular, 8% were Jewish, 10% were Catholic, 16% were Protestant, 4% were Evangelical, 10% were other religion.'

Also in 2009, the religious beliefs of US professors were examined using a nationally representative sample: 'in the social sciences: 23.4% did not believe in God, 16% did not know if God existed, 42.5% believed God existed, and 16% believed in a higher power. Out of the natural sciences: 19.5% did not believe in God, 32.9% did not know if God existed, 43.9% believed God existed, and 3.7% believed in a higher power.' (

The most recent survey, on religious beliefs among the general population and among 'rank and file' American scientists (in fields such as computing, engineering, health-care and life sciences), showed that only 24.4% of scientists self-describe as atheist/agnostic/no-religion, which is about the same percentage of scientists who self-describe as 'Mainline Protestant' (24.9%). Moreover, 19.1% of scientists self-described as Catholic and 17.1% of scientists self-described as Evangelical Christian (hence '2 million out of nearly 12 million scientists are evangelical Christians. If you were to bring all the evangelical scientists together, they could populate the city of Houston, Texas'):

% All Respondents
% Scientists
Evangelical Protestants
Mainline Protestants
Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains
Atheists/Agnostics/No Religion
Something Else

According to these statistics, 61.1% of American scientists self-describe as Christian and c. 65% self-describe as theist.

It's also worth noting that 'the Pew poll found that...  younger scientists (ages 18 to 34) are more likely than older ones to believe in God or a higher power.' (

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