The Clash Between Religion and Science

A new study shows that 62 percent of scientists do not believe in God.

ByABC News
July 3, 2007, 12:13 PM

July 3, 2007 — -- Here's one reason why the war between science and religion cannot be resolved. Most scientists do not believe in God.

That's one of the findings in a huge study of leading scientists at the 21 top-rated research universities in the United States. And there's more:

The landmark study was conducted by sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund at the University at Buffalo, and Christopher P. Scheitle of Pennsylvania State University. Ecklund said it's the first study in decades of the religious beliefs and practices of "elite academics," and it included 271 in-depth interviews with leading scientists, some of which lasted several hours.

She notes that the participants may not be representative of scientists as a whole, because they are the superachievers in their fields, men and women who are obsessed with science. But the findings are important, she said, because these are the people who shape the scientific attitudes and goals of the nation's academic communities.

The clash between science and religion is as old as science itself, but it seems especially heated -- and particularly important -- these days because of burning issues ranging from evolution to stem cell research. It may seem that scientists tend to shy away from discussing religion, but Ecklund did not find that to be the case. About 75 percent of the scientists she surveyed, through a professional polling organization, agreed to participate in the study, a surprisingly high number. None of their names are being released.