Thursday, March 25, 2004

God and science majors

Old Post: I posted about the U of R survey on religious belief here.

Looking at the results of the survey, I suppose what I find most striking is the difference between the hard science majors and the humanities majors when it comes to the "Does God exist?" question. The percentage who say no is about the same within the margin of error: 6% for the humanities and 8% for the hard science majors. The percentage who say yes is 78% for the humanities and 59% for the hard sciences. That's a difference of 19 percentage points, or a ratio of 4 to 3. What's most intriguing is the difference between those who say they're not sure: 32% to 17%, nearly 2 to 1. I've never noticed the incidence of atheism to be much higher among scientists and engineers than the rest of the population, but it does look as if more of the hard science majors are uncertain. Are they just more skeptical when compared to the general population, more unwilling to put their trust in something they can't test? I've never really believed that was the case, since the science folks I met in college believed all sorts of crazy things, but now I'm beginning to wonder. After all, while I know science types pretty well, my experience with the general population is pretty limited, so maybe I just think the level of skepticism I deal with regularly is representative.

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