How religious are American professors?

This study has been online for more than a year, but it’s just been touted in two places: in an article at HuffPo by Ph.D. candidate Amarnath Amarasingham, and as a link at Templeton’s Big Questions Online site.  Why the attention? Because the study, published in Sociology of Religion by Neil Gross at the University of British Columbia and Solon Simmons at George Mason University, supposedly shows that American professors are nowhere near as Godless as people think.  That seems to hearten people who worry that American higher education is infested with nefarious atheists.  Remember Elaine Ecklund’s palpable relief at her supposed demonstration that American scientists are also more religious than people think?

Actually, neither the authors nor Amarasingham (nor Ecklund, in her study) know what people think about the atheism of the professoriat.  They cite no surveys of this nor give any data themselves.  They merely assert that Americans think that professors are all raving atheists.  And the data show that that’s not the case, though professors prove to be far less religious than the public at large.

The Gross and Simmons study has a long and boring introduction about the incursion of religion in American universities and of secularism in the faculty.  And their study has a curious motivation: not to find out the degree of atheism among professors, but to show that it’s not pervasive.

Our aim in undertaking this largely descriptive endeavor is precisely to cast doubt on assumptions of faculty atheism, not because we ourselves have any interest in advancing a religious agenda, but because such assumptions have kept a range of important sociological questions—about the processes and mechanisms responsible for the distribution of religious views in academe, as well as about the potential consequences of religiosity for teaching, research, and other faculty attitudes—from being given the attention they deserve.

That’s just weird: no real science paper would have as its aim to demonstrate a certain phenomenon.  Presumably studies like this are supposed to find the truth, not “cast doubt.”  Well, maybe the authors are just guilty of hamhanded writing.  What did they find?  They surveyed 1417 professors at American colleges and universities (including junior colleges), sampling from a wide swath of disciplines.  Here’s a precis:

  • Among professors, 9.8% say “I don’t believe in God” (this compares to 3% among the public as a whole), 13.1% say “I don’t know whether there is a God” (4.1% of Americans as a whole). That makes 22.9% of the professoriat atheists or agnostics, compared to 7.1% of the public. In other words, in America irreligiosity is three times more pervasive among professors than among the public.  To mitigate the sting of this statistic, Gross and Simmons aver that “skepticism is by no means the most common stance toward religion of professors.”
  • The frequency of other beliefs among professors includes “I do believe in a higher power”, 19.2%; “I find myself believing in God some of the time”, 4.3%; “While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God,” 16.6%; and “I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it,” 34.9% (2% gave no answer). The authors don’t compare this to beliefs among the public at large (they did no surveys of this group).
  • The more “elite” the university, the more pervasive the unbelief.  At “elite doctoral universities,” 36.5% of professors are agnostics or atheists, a figure that drops to 22.7% at “nonelite doctoral granting universities” and 15.3% at community colleges. Conversely, 44.5% of community-college professors have no doubt that God exists, compared to only 20.4% of professors at elite doctoral universities.
  • As you might expect, the area of scholarship makes a big difference in the degree of belief.  While only 6.1% of “health” professors were atheists or agnostics, this figure was 29.3% for humanities, 32.6% for computer science and engineering, 39.4% for social sciences, and a whopping 42.4% for physical and biological sciences.  When disciplines were divided more finely, biologists and psychologists nearly tied as the most heathen, with 60.8% of biologists and 60.9% of psychologists being agnostics and atheists, though there were relatively fewer outright atheists among the biologists.

I’m not sure how much succor these data can provide to those who worry about the incursion of atheism into universities. Yes, about half the professors are still religious—though not among scientists—but who ever thought that we were all atheists?

Nevertheless, Gross and Simmons, in their discussion, are clearly heartened by the results, and just as clearly wanted to find a pro-religion result. What kind of “objective” study is that? They note at the end:

Whatever the outcome of these and other lines of future investigation, we have shown that religious believers are more common in the ranks of the American faculty than many strands of social-scientific analysis—and much popular discourse—would suggest.

And, at HuffPo, Amarasingham also breathes a sigh of relief:

What all of these data make clear, and future studies are sure to further complicate, is that the simplistic association of “intelligent” with “atheist” is not backed by the evidence. “Our findings call into question the long-standing idea among theorists and sociologists of knowledge that intellectuals, broadly construed, comprise an ideologically cohesive group in society and tend naturally to be antagonistic toward religion,” write Gross and Simmons. The idea that “the worldview of the intelligentsia is necessarily in tension with a religious worldview, is plainly wrong.” In contrast, the evidence seems to suggest that instead of leaving religion behind, the intelligentsia, like the rest of society, rationally wrestle with ideas, scientific and religious, and attempt to find answers to the big questions that plague us all.

Never mind the three-times-greater irreligiosity among faculty than among the public, never mind the correlation of atheism and agnosticism with the quality of the institution: the faitheists and accommodationists can always spin the data to their liking so long as the correlation isn’t perfect and 100% of professors aren’t atheists. So much for the “science” of sociology!

____________

Gross, N. and S. Simmons.  2009.  The religiosity of American college and university professors. Sociology of Religion 70:101-129.  doi:10.1093/socrel/srp026

46 Comments

  1. Veronica Abbass
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Why has Neil Gross at the University of British Columbia participated in a study on the religiosity of American college and university professors? I would like to see a study on the religiosity of Canadian college and university professors or at least a comparison of Canadian versus American.

  2. Sigmund
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    There’s a distinct whiff of Templeton about that Gross and Simmons paper. They don’t acknowledge any funding but they thank Templeton darling, Elaine Ecklund, for reading the manuscript. The obvious point from the paper is not that professors, in general, are shown not to be atheists, but in why there should be such a disparity between the different disciplines. Why should biology, philosophy or psychology have 20 times the background rate of atheism compared to business studies?

  3. basnight
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I’ve been told that mathematicians are more religious than scientists. Does this survey show any evidence for that claim? I’d also like to know if professors in art departments are more religious. It is often claimed that religion inspires great arts, university artists tend to be more radical so they might turn out to be much less religious.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      I found a free link (I think) to the study and have added it to my post; you can look for the answers there!

      • Paul W.
        Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        If you’re talking about the link at the end of your post, it takes me to a paywall.

        Also, your first two links both go to HuffPo, not Templeton.

    • Sigmund
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      There doesn’t seem to be a category for mathematicians. Art professors, however, seem to be quite religious according to the data.
      Interestingly the largest single ‘religious denomination’ category amongst the professors is the ‘no affiliation’ group who consist of twice as many individuals as the next nearest denomination – catholics.

  4. Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    What all of these data make clear, and future studies are sure to further complicate, is that the simplistic association of “intelligent” with “atheist” is not backed by the evidence.

    What a weird thing to say in reaction to this study. Now, I don’t like to assert even the vaguest correlation between atheism and intelligence, because I think it sounds elitist, snobby, and in any case I know I would be susceptible to strong confirmation bias and therefore unable to objectively evaluate the evidence.

    However, if this study says something about the relationship between atheism and intelligence… which I’m not saying it does… I don’t see how Amarasingham can read that into it!

    For example… professors at elite doctoral universities are twice as likely to be atheist or agnostic as their counterparts at community colleges? To be clear, I’m not saying professors at community colleges are necessarily any less intelligent, and furthermore one could posit all kinds of explanations for that correlation, e.g. some kind of peer pressure effect or something, or a third factor like regional distribution, or whatever. But the one way I can’t see to spin the data is, “See?! That proves there’s no relationship between atheism and intelligence!” Wha?!?

    On an unrelated note, I found the distribution across disciplines to be both interesting and extremely self-satisfying. heh…

    • MadScientist
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Oh, there are a lot of stupid godless people but I don’t know of any who claim that godless people are necessarily intelligent. That sounds to me like another Lie for Jesus.

  5. Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    You know what both this and the Ecklund “study” remind me of? It reminds me of smokers who shrug at the risks because they knew somebody who smoked a pack a day and lived to 90 and/or somebody who never smoked a day in their life and still got lung cancer. The existence of counter-examples does not disprove correlation!!! Yeesh…

    • Paul W.
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Yeah. This kind of spin is ridicuously bad science.

      Elaine Ecklund has actually tried to explain away the association between scientific achievement and atheism as an artifact of other correlations, e.g., between a scientist and being a white male from a middle-class background.

      But she didn’t show the math, because if she did, it’d be clear she’s just wrong.

      The association between scientific achievement and atheism is just way too strong—if you assume that science is terribly racist and sexist and classist, and look only at white males from the middle class, you still see a huge association between science and irreligion.

      No wonder she doesn’t do any good factor analyses—or rather, doesn’t publish them.

      • Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Exactly. It seems highly likely that some of the correlation between scientific achievement and irreligiosity is due to confounding demographic factors — I may have even seen an analysis to this effect at some point, though maybe I’m making that up… but in any case, it’s clear as day that even if you factor that in, you’ll still get a huge correlation — so it’s in her best interests not to do the math. She can make a true assertion — that confounding factors do exist — and get away with implying that it explains the whole thing.

    • Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Perfect analogy! Those anecdotes drive me up a wall.

  6. Kevin
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    attempt to find answers to the big questions that plague us all.

    And what questions might those be? And why would you characterize those questions as a “plague”?

    This is nothing more than death-cult code-speak for “what kind of apartment will I get in the afterlife”.

    No kidding, none of the “big questions” plagues me in the least. While I’m fascinated by the study of the cosmos and am intensely curious about the origins of our universe, it doesn’t “plague” me. Nor does the answer to the question “how did life begin” cause me the least bit of plague-iness. I’m interested in the answer, because it’s something we haven’t adequately teased out. I’m not “plagued” by it.

    And lets be frank. Those are the only two questions left for which there can even be a hint of “plague”. The others are answered…to whit:

    * How did humans get here?
    A: By a 3.7-billion year long process of slow, steady, all-natural, unguided evolution (are you listening, Dr. Collins?). We are accidents of the interplay between the environment and the relatively poor proofreading capabilities of RNA and DNA. Nothing more, nothing less.

    * What is our ‘purpose’ in life?
    A: To perpetuate the species. That’s the purpose of every species – to continue its lineage. Humans can best accomplish that by being good parents, members of the community and stewards of the Earth’s finite resources.

    * What happens after we die?
    A: My atoms will be redistributed back to the environment — I will rot. My consciousness ends — I will experience, think and feel no more. Aside from that, nothing. There is no supernatural appendix that survives me and/or carries my life-experiences anywhere. When it’s over, it’s over.

    And that’s it. If there are other questions that plague theists, please bring them up. Maybe I’m just too unsophisticated — I’m plague-deficient.

    But, I’ll try to be plagued if you can raise a plague-worthy question.

    But I suspect it’s all bound up in fear of death and “after-death”. Sorry, there is no “after” for you, other than being part of the slow ongoing process of the cosmos cooling and expanding.

    Get over it and get on with living your life.

    • McWaffle
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      I disagree fairly strongly with your answer to the “purpose” question. For there to be a purpose, there has to be a sapient being doing the purposing (we sometimes roughly speak of things in the natural world having a “purpose”, e.g. “the purpose of a polar bears white coat is for better camouflage”, but as Fodor et al so stubbornly point it, that’s just an approximate way of speaking). Since we are not aware of any other sapient beings, there can be no external purpose for our existence — it’s not even that there’s “no purpose”, it’s that the question is semantically nonsensical, like asking how next Monday is feeling right now. Next Monday is not “feeling nothing” — the question is just silly.

      We might say the purpose of our genes is to propagate themselves, but that is again speaking very approximately. That’s not the “purpose” of genes per se; it’s just what they do.

      So as to the question — since purpose can only be defined in relation to a sapient being, our purpose here is whatever we choose to make it. There can be no other answer (not even “no purpose”)

      • Paul W.
        Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Yeah. “Purpose” has way too strong a connotation of conscious intent. “Function” would be somewhat better.

        The more basic problem is that it’s being way too greedily reductionist, assuming that human purposes are necessarily aligned with evolutionary function.

        That’s just not so, e.g., enjoying sex because that’s how we’re wired, and choosing not to let it serve its main evolutionary function.

        I’m perfectly happy to repurpose my genitalia, and the rest of me. Choosing not to reproduce doesn’t make you a failure, even if your inclusive fitness is zero.

        • Tulse
          Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

          I’m perfectly happy to repurpose my genitalia

          That statement is a prime example of how language is a infinitely generative system, as I can’t imagine that sentence ever having been written before.

          And, more substantively, I presume that such statement is true only for certain very narrow values of “repurpose”.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Criticism accepted. However, I used the word ‘purpose’ because that’s the word that theist death-cultists use when asking that particular question.

        And I put the word ‘purpose’ in single quotes for the very reason you note.

        When used by the death-cultists, it too is code for “afterlife”. And that’s what you’re reacting to. I agree, it’s a loaded word.

        However, in the interests of keeping the post shorter and to-the-point, I didn’t go into that bit of explanation.

        However, I’ll disagree with your assertion that ‘purpose’ automatically implies ‘other-directed’. I think that’s way too narrow a definition.

        For example, what’s the ‘purpose’ of the bacterial flagellum? To let it swim around, avoid predators, find food. None of that implies or infers that there is an invisible hand guiding the swimming or which decided that the bacterium needed a flagellum in the first place.

        So, in my own defense: A) it’s the word theists use to describe the question that “plagues” them, and B) ‘purpose’ doesn’t automatically imply an external, eternal, other-directed.

      • ereador
        Posted October 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        I agree about the problem of intrinsic purpose. The only purpose there is to an action is the one I give it, and I have reproduced once by accident and once on purpose.

        Yes, there is purpose in the universe — I invent new ones daily.

    • Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      The “problem” of course that although the answers are apparent, lots of people don’t like them.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Well, that’s not my problem, is it?

        Just because you don’t like the answer, that doesn’t mean then that I have to be plagued by the question.

        Seriously, if there is a question I need to be plagued by, I’d like to hear it. From a sophisticated philosopher-theologian or anyone else.

        I await edification and plague-ification.

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          The question which most often plagues me – I don’t know if it plagues you – is “Where did I just put [insert name of common small object, eg, document, pen, file, white-out pen...]?”

          Sadly, I suspect neither theologians nor philosphers have the answer.

          • Posted October 9, 2010 at 4:39 am | Permalink

            (contented sigh after chortling…) WEIT has the *best* comment threads on the whole internet:))

  7. Paul W.
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    [...] never mind the correlation of atheism and agnosticism with the quality of the institution: the faitheists and accommodationists can always spin the data [...]

    It’s clear from other surveys that the correlation between scientific achievement holds across the range from highschool dropout who knows no science to eminent scientists (e.g., National Academy & Royal society members.)

    At the low end of scientific sophistication, you have something like 90 percent of people believing in conventional religious stuff (e.g., a personal god) and a large majority being fairly orthodox (e.g., believing Christ died for their sins so they can go to heaven), and large percentages of literalists and inerrantists.

    At the high end, you have over 90 percent not believing any of that, very few who are very orthodox, and a nearly zero percent inerrantists or literalists.

    Sampling the middle range—random college professors—and dividing into only two levels grossly downplays the robustness of this correlation.

    It’s like showing that 8th graders are only a little taller than 7th graders, on average, with a greater variance than difference in means, and then concluding that there’s only a weak correlation between kids’ heights and their ages.

    Without appropriate scales of both orthodoxy and scientific sophistication, and data spanning both ranges, it will never be clear just how strong this correlation really is.

    Properly measured, you’d see one of the clearest correlations in the social sciences—the kind of thing social scientists dream of finding, if they’re not trying hard not to find it.

  8. Tuco
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    …[B]ut who ever thought that we were all atheists?

    I’m assuming this was meant to be read as ironic.

    • sherkat
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I think part of the rationale for that logic is to make these studies seem new and worthy of publication. The fact is, there have been scores of sociological investigations over nearly a century showing basically the same thing–scientists and professors are less religious than the public. The atheism assumption is a straw man. It’s a null hypothesis pulled from the nether regions.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        The null hypothesis would be:

        “There is no difference between religiosity of college professors compared with the general population.”

        Or whatever other subgroup you want to analyze…educational attainment, IQ, age, sex, race, upbringing in a religious household, and on and on.

        The null hypothesis proposes there is no difference between the comparators.

  9. Insightful Ape
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    “What all of these data make clear, and future studies are sure to further complicate, is that the simplistic association of “intelligent” with “atheist” is not backed by the evidence.”
    While different people define “intelligent” differently, I find it stunning that anyone can make the a claim like this, based on the study that showed the following:
    “The more “elite” the university, the more pervasive the unbelief.  At “elite doctoral universities,” 36.5% of professors are agnostics or atheists, a figure that drops to 22.7% at “nonelite doctoral granting universities” and 15.3% at community colleges. Conversely, 44.5% of community-college professors have no doubt that God exists, compared to only 20.4% of professors at elite doctoral universities.”
    The level of dishonesty of that spin is mind buggling.

  10. Paul W.
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Actually, neither the authors nor Amarasingham (nor Ecklund, in her study) know what people think about the atheism of the professoriat. They cite no surveys of this nor give any data themselves. They merely assert that Americans think that professors are all raving atheists.

    My impression is quite different. There seem to be a lot of university students who just assume that their professors are theists.

    A friend of mine is a philosophy professor who regularly gets students who are shocked to find out she’s not, even after discussing arguments for the existence of God and why each one is invalid, the Euthyphro, etc.

    Many students assume that if she was an atheist, she’d say so, because that would be interesting and maybe relevant; if she doesn’t say so, they assume she’s not. Many if not most nonmajors don’t seem to know that most philosophy professors are atheists.

    Good statistics on this would be interesting.

  11. Curt Cameron
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised that psychologists have as many atheists in their ranks as biologists.

    • Tulse
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Why? Psychology addresses the reasons that people think and behave the way they do, and in empirically studying the details and components of affect, behaviour, and cognition, it makes clear what a messy, chaotic system humans are. Psychology directly impinges on areas that were once the sole purview of religion (such as understanding moral behaviour, and how and why humans reason). Neuropsychology especially has outlined the physical nature what was once thought of as the human soul, dissecting it into components conventional religious orthodoxy didn’t recognize. Comparative psychology has shown just how closely human behaviour and cognition resembles that of other organisms, and how it might have evolved, calling into question the notion of human “uniqueness”.

      (Disclosure: I’ve got a doctorate in cognitive psychology, so I might be a wee bit biased.)

    • Paul W.
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      I’m not surprised. I’m a little disappointed that there are so many religious psychologists.

      Any good theory of psychology isn’t going to leave much for a dualistic soul to do, so psychologists should be skeptical of that idea—and skeptical of any disembodied spirits.

      A passing familiarity with cognitive neuroscience and psychopharmacology should make it pretty clear that dualism is dumb, so orthodox religion is pretty much out the window.

      Besides, most towering figures in the field have been materialist atheists for a very long time. (E.g., Freud, Skinner, most of the cognitive psychology folks.) Psychology is not lacking in atheist role models, or in explanations of religion that imply that it’s generally not true.

      I actually think that the best evidence against religion comes not from evolutionary biology, but from cognitive science, including cognitive psychology.

      Many people believe that there are many things about the mind, emotions, and religion itself that materialist science can’t explain. They’re flat wrong, and psychologists should all know that.

      Dawkins is largely right that evolution makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, but cognitive science makes it much more nutritious and delicious.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        I actually think that the best evidence against religion comes not from evolutionary biology, but from cognitive science, including cognitive psychology.

        I’m interested in learning more. Point us in the direction of who you think would be important to read in this regard, please.

  12. Neil
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    They can spin it all they want, but the data show unambiguously that the more educated and the knowledgeable people are about the nature of reality and how it is explored (science), the far less likely they are to be deluded by religious superstition. Put a period on that.

  13. justsearching
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I’d like to know what percentage of professors would say they believe the world is 6000 years old, or that the first 12 chapters of Genesis are an accurate history of early history, or that the Bible is not the work of man but of God. I think there are probably plenty of profs who hold on to some vague notion of a god, some spiritual force, some creator, some moral provider, or some combination of the above. But how many are far-right Fundies? I think that those surveying did not ask more specific theological questions or denominational questions because the answers wouldn’t have fit their desired story as nicely.

  14. MosesZD
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I find that sociologists, like economists, psychologist and other less empirical disciplines fall into two rough camps:

    Those that have theories. Those that have the math.

    For example, Keynesian economists have the math. The other group has a lot of theories that cannot be tested or, when tested, are false. Which leads them ever-onward in their snipe-hunt to justify mercantilism, supply-side and lazziez-faire economics as “correct” in order to continue to take in all those right-wing think-tank paychecks…

    Even though we’ve seen the results of their predictions and their practices in our current economic performance. Never mind all the regressive performances of their favorite places… Like Libertarian Paradise – Somalia!

  15. Dr. J
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I’m not at all surprised to see 0% (ZERO!) of Elementary Education faculty have views of atheist/agnostic. I get a good number of undergraduates of the program in one of my courses and despite spending maybe a day on evolution, it always is seen in my course evals that I’m pushing evolution on them and not being fair to other ideas.

    On our religiously affiliated campus, I don’t know of a religious person in the Biology program I’m associated with.

  16. Bryan R
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Jerry,

    Little typo here: “And their study has a curious motivation: not to find out the degree of religiosity among professors, but to show that it’s not pervasive.”

    Did you mean that they wanted to show that atheism was not pervasive instead of religioisity?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Good catch! Fixed; thanks.

  17. Posted October 8, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Amarasingham’s final paragraph is much too sweeping, and thus misleading.

    What all of these data make clear, and future studies are sure to further complicate, is that the simplistic association of “intelligent” with “atheist” is not backed by the evidence. “Our findings call into question the long-standing idea among theorists and sociologists of knowledge that intellectuals, broadly construed, comprise an ideologically cohesive group in society and tend naturally to be antagonistic toward religion,” write Gross and Simmons. The idea that “the worldview of the intelligentsia is necessarily in tension with a religious worldview, is plainly wrong.”

    In the US, that is; but the US isn’t everywhere, and it isn’t typical. Sweeping claims about “intellectuals” and “the intelligentsia” are nonsensical if what is really meant is “US intellectuals” and “the intelligentsia in the US.”

    • MadScientist
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      The other reason it’s plain wrong is that it is the old nonsense about “I know a scientist who is religious, therefore religion and science are compatible.”

  18. physicalist
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    As I recall, a recent survey of professional philosophers listed 73% as accepting or leaning toward atheism, and only 15% accepting/leaning toward theism.

    (Source should be here, but it seems to be down.)

  19. Stan Pak
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Did they count in their study Dr Kent Hovint and his colleagues from Bible Study University?

    • MadScientist
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Ah, forget Hovind – try Liberty University.

  20. MadScientist
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    That’s funny – the social sciences deal with instances of god’s love on a daily basis so they’re almost as godless as the physicists+chemists+biologists.

    I wonder what the figures are like for the religious elite schools like Harvard, or across the pond at Cambridge and Oxford. I suspect the natural scientists will be predominantly godless. In some places I’ve worked, the goddy people have been so rare that the rest of us have apparently been offending them with all our god jokes. The typical response when any of them mention this is “don’t worry, you only have to stop believing in a god and you won’t find this offensive anymore.”

  21. Alex SL
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Yes, about half the professors are still religious—though not among scientists—but who ever thought that we were all atheists?

    Conservapedia?


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