Mike Dobbins is a rather ridiculous anti-atheist writer and the “media relations volunteer for The Freedom From Atheism Foundation.” In an article claiming that 2014 has been a terrible year for atheists, he cites a survey by the AAAS and says that it shows that scientists overwhelmingly are religious.
In February we learned more scientists are religious than atheist, shattering the atheist myth that the study of science leads to atheism. The American Association for the Advancement of Science released preliminary findings of a survey of ‘religious communities and science’ and discovered a mere 25% of scientists consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or non-religious. An astounding 75% of scientists identify with a religious group. This continues an ongoing trend that has more and more religious people realizing science and faith are compatible.
Yeah. Except it doesn’t. The survey was not of scientists but of a far broader group that works with anything that might be science-related. Here’s the groups actually surveyed: Computer and Mathematics; Architecture and Engineering; Life, Physical, and Social Sciences; Medical Doctor (such as physician, surgeon, dentist, veterinarian); Other Health Care Practitioner; Health Technologist; Health Care Support. Architects, doctors, nurses, nurse’s aides, dentists, social scientists? No, not actual scientists.
The AAAS has actually surveyed its own members, who are actual scientists, and found that they are far less likely to be religious than non-scientists. A Pew survey of those members in 2009 found:
A survey of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in May and June 2009, finds that members of this group are, on the whole, much less religious than the general public.1 Indeed, the survey shows that scientists are roughly half as likely as the general public to believe in God or a higher power. According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. By contrast, 95% of Americans believe in some form of deity or higher power, according to a survey of the general public conducted by the Pew Research Center in July 2006. Specifically, more than eight-in-ten Americans (83%) say they believe in God and 12% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. Finally, the poll of scientists finds that four-in-ten scientists (41%) say they do not believe in God or a higher power, while the poll of the public finds that only 4% of Americans share this view.
In the elite National Academy of Sciences, the rates of disbelief are far higher. That doesn’t mean atheism is true or that theism is false, of course. But let’s at least get the facts straight.