Atheists such as Richard Dawkins like to argue that science leads to a rejection of religious belief. But as with many of his arguments against religion, his only support is a crude analysis supported by anecdotes. A new study suggests that Dawkins' argument is bogus:
"Our study data do not strongly support the idea that scientists simply drop their religious identities upon professional training, due to an inherent conflict between science and faith, or to institutional pressure to conform," Ecklund says.
Ecklund says, "It appears that those from non-religious backgrounds disproportionately self-select into scientific professions. This may reflect the fact that there is tension between the religious tenets of some groups and the theories and methods of particular sciences and it contributes to the large number of non-religious scientists."
Results from the study also show that the more children in a scientist's household, the more likely he or she is to adhere to a religion.
Readers of Telic Thoughts might have anticipated such a finding, as it is reminiscent of the way I responded to Sam Harris's simplistic argument.
Finally, maybe there is a reason why Dawkins and PZ Myers are always so angry:
RAAS data reveal that younger scientists are more likely to believe in God than older scientists, and more likely to report attending religious services over the past year. "If this holds throughout the career life-course for this cohort of academic scientists," Ecklund says, "it could indicate an overall shift in attitudes toward religion among those in the academy."