Sunday, November 20, 2011
Why are so many scientists atheists?
"Why are so many scientists atheists?"
In 2007, researchers Ecklund and Scheitle questioned nearly 2,200 professors from 21 prestigious American research universities about their belief in God. About three-quarters of those contacted, responded.
Overall, 31% disavowed belief in God. This included 41% from the area of physics, 27% from chemistry, and 41% in biology (the hard sciences). Also, 34% in sociology, 32% in economics, 27% from political science, and 33% from psychology eschewed an acceptance of God. These numbers do indeed exceed the single-digit percentage of the general population that reportedly doesn’t hold to a belief in any deity.
Why such a difference between this particular group of surveyed professors and the overall populace, most of whom profess some type of religious faith? A similar question was put to Richard Dawkins – perhaps the leading voice of atheism today – some years ago at an atheist convention and his response was: “Well, we’re bright…”
Elaborating on the supposed link between atheism and intellect, Dawkins has also said: “An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
With all due respect to Dawkins, this position is absurd. Evolution in no way disproves the existence of God as it concerns itself with the adaptations and changes that occur within existing biological entities and has no explanatory power over how those entities came to exist in the first place. Put another way, evolution may describe the survival of the fittest but in no way explains the arrival of the fittest.
Both atheists and believers in God must admit that each opposing side has a long list of brilliant individuals (scientists, philosophers, etc.) who stand against what they believe where faith in God is concerned. What can we take away from this truthful observation? Simply this: faith in both God and atheism involves more than just the intellect. And this is exactly what the Bible says where faith is concerned.
A number of years ago, one of my seminary professors had lunch with a professor of biology who was an evolutionist and atheist. As the lunch progressed, my professor respectfully confronted his lunch mate with the flaws of atheism and fallacies of evolution’s claims where a Creator is concerned.
Surprisingly, the atheistic professor said at the end of their lunch, “I think you’re right. I do think the evidence you’ve presented is correct with respect to God. That said, I’m still going to teach evolution and remain an atheist.” Baffled, my professor asked why. “Because I want to sleep with who I want and keep living how I’m living”, came the reply.
His answer matches perfectly with that of Aldous Huxley: “We objected to the morality [implied from a world that has meaning, and therefore, a Creator] because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”
In showcasing these examples, I’m not trying to say atheists are worse people than Christians. Truth be told, the Bible says we all seek our own way and not God’s (cf. Rom. 3), myself included. But what I am trying to get across is this: belief/disbelief in God is a matter of the will. It involves more than merely acquiescing to evidence. The sad fact is, we act contrary to evidence all the time.
Bowing the knee to the lordship of Christ requires more. Paul simply says, “for with the heart [the ‘seat’ of the will] a person believes, resulting in righteousness” (Rom.10: 10). Belief in God is a moral act. It does not go against intellect and reason, but does step beyond it.
Some atheists will admit this. Hear professor Thomas Nagel on the subject: "I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope that there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."
Or how about the admission of atheistic scientist George Klein: “I am an atheist. My attitude is not based on science, but rather on faith. . . . The absence of a Creator, the non-existence of God is my childhood faith, my adult belief, unshakable and holy.”
I’ve watched atheist talk-show host Bill Maher berate his Christian guests and say, “You think I don’t get it [intellectually], but I do!” Such a statement reminds me of the clear warning found in Hebrews: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:26).
So why do so many scientists disavow God? The statistics actually show more believe in God than not. But those that don’t do so for the same reason everyone else turns away and it has nothing to do with a lack of intelligence.