More Than 20% of Atheist Scientists are Deeply Confused

According to a Rice University press release:

More than 20 percent of atheist scientists are spiritual
Rice University study: Scientists think spirituality is congruent with scientific discovery,
religion is not

HOUSTON — (May 5, 2011) — More than 20 percent of atheist scientists are spiritual, according to new research from Rice University. Though the general public marries spirituality and religion, the study found that spirituality is a separate idea – one that more closely aligns with scientific discovery – for “spiritual atheist” scientists.

Atheism is, as I have noted in the past, a pause between the moment a culture exhales one spirit and inhales another. Our post-Christian culture is busy exhaling the Holy Spirit. What these “spiritual atheists” will be inhaling may well be spiritual, but it will not be holy. I am reminded of Uncle Screwtape’s fervent desire for a marriage of “spirituality” and post-Christian atheism:


I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all he pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”—then the end of the war will be in sight.

Much of our culture has been laboring to create the mulch and soil for this, hasn’t it? How many science fiction and fantasy stories, for instance, are essentially stories which a previous age would have frankly populated with angels and devils, but which our age always tries to portray with a silly “technological” veneer. Dr. Who is perpetually dealing with demonic powers and then informing the dumb humans that there is nothing supernatural going on, just advanced technology because only science is real and belief in the supernatural is superstition. The paradoxical result is, indeed, to prepare a culture for the Materialist Magician, the “spiritual atheist” who imagines he is merely a lucky collection of atoms in a universe composed solely of time, space, matter, and energy, but who seeks contact with “forces” which an earlier age recognized were demonic. Lewis, That Hideous Strength is an instructive parable for this distinctly modern and post-modern mindset.

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