Religious Scientists And Faith

An interesting article highlighting how quite a lot of scientists have faith.

How Religious Scientists Balance Work And Faith

I have to admit I am someone who believes that the two are incompatible… but are they?

UK Atheist

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I also think they’re incompatible. Scientists who have faith are probably good at compartmentalizing.


I think there are a lot of factors. Do people say they have a god because they’ve been raised to do so but don’t exhibit such in any practical way? How is god / religion defined? Which branch of science? What is the country / culture attitude about saying one has no gods? Age? To what degree were they indoctrinated as a child? So many others….

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That’s a good point. There’s probably no conflict between science and faith for a chemist, for example. Biology and cosmology probably are the two sciences where conflict with faith raises its ugly head.


Well, the article begins with a bunch of unqualified assertions and an allusion to some research but it never defines terms, indicates a sample size, determines a methodology, or talks about empirical tools of measurement. The first half of the article basically says, “Many scientists are religious and don’t feel like they can express themselves because I talked to them and they say so.” Um… pretty piss poor reporting if you ask me.

Next, we have some personal testimony. Grandy, who is based in Singapore wants to tell us…“Faith informs his science.” Well - 'Woop De Doo." We all know about personal testimony. At what point does science enter the picture? And how has he applied the scientific method to his personal testimonial assertions?

Next: We leap to some other person’s research and 1300 graduate students. Possibly at Penn State but equally possible at Trinity University where he graduated with a BA. He does not indicate which. His 2019 funding for the research came from an organization called the Interfaith Youth Core. (It was on his resume.) I did a bit of digging.

At this point, I am highly suspicious of anything factual in the article. There certainly appears to be nothing scientific about it. It looks as if there was an agenda, “Science is not against religion” and then the researcher went out to cherry-pick data to prove his point.

What we seem to have is an author and a sociologist at Penn State, neither one of which, understand the scientific method or how to conduct research properly.

Just my opinion.


The article had some alarm bells ringing for me as well, and some of the assertions seemed loaded. It was implied and even stated plainly that science and scientists could be antagonistic towards religion, when the opposite is more often true. Since there is no empirical or objective evidence for any deity, why would science care about it, anymore than it cares about mermaids?

The subjective religious beliefs of individual scientists, has no relevance to science obviously, unless they can demonstrate some scientific evidence to support those beliefs? There was also little detail in the article, like what fields of science the subjects were working in, and how many from those fields. I recently posted some research that showed in the US religiosity was lower among scientists generally, and among elite scientists atheism mirrored religiosity among the general public, atheism was highest among elite biologists.

Not that this really matters, except when someone like @WhoAreYou tried to claim there was scientific evidence for a deity, and when pressed claimed the human genome was evidence of a deity. She never explained what this evidence was of course, or why atheism was so high among elite biologists (those best placed to understand such evidence) if it supported her claim.

It also should be an obvious observation, but there were clearly scientists from around the world who held different religious beliefs in different deities, I can’t think of a better illustration of the difference between an objective evidence based method like science, and subjective religious beliefs. I mean scientific facts don’t vary between cultures and nationalities, but their subjective religious beliefs do.

Bottom line is I don’t care what anyone believes, only what they can objectively evidence.

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A suitable article on this topic was published in Nature, viz:

Leading Scientists Still Reject God

Of course there are outliers, and Kenneth Miller, who testified against ID at the Dover Trial, is probably the best known here - an evolutionary biologist who openly admits to being a practising Catholic. But uses that to devastating effect when dealing with duplicitous “atheist evolutionist” lies by creationists, and who also states that he leaves his faith in the locker room once he’s ready to launch into laboratory work.

I personally find that combination puzzling, but am happy to see him use that as a weapon against creationist lies.


No kidding. How anyone can be part of a profession that repeatedly has proven the Bible incorrect, and still believe any part of that toxic bronze age fairy tale is beyond me. It’s like still believing in magic after you’ve seen how the trick works.
Just an aside. The line “toxic bronze age fairy tale” isn’t original but I can’t remember where I heard it. I think it was from Professor Plink on YouTube. He’s become one of my favorite YouTube atheist. It’s not a particularly big channel and I hope he gets more subscribers so I’m giving him a plug :slight_smile: .


At university, I witnessed up close a friend making the switch from studying natural sciences to studying theology. The person in question is a very intelligent, reflected, and down-to-earth person who had some well founded reasons to make the switch(*). These reasons had nothing to do with denying results from the physical sciences, and had the underlying external influences been slightly different, the switch would probably not have happened. I strongly believe that my friend does an excellent job in his/her current job as an ordained priest. If, hypothetically, I should ever end up in a position where it is at all natural to interact with a professional priest, I would have insisted on this person, if possible.

(*) I don’t want to go into details here, as I value both my own and my friend’s anonymity. But I can say it involved some deeply felt convictions about doing good for other people.

I thought about this for a while . . . and I remembered a pulmonologist that I used to work with.

He was a really good doctor, but he smoked like a chimney. Unfiltered Camels, if I remember correctly.

Him being a smoker didn’t prevent him from giving good care to his patients


I seem to have less and less patience with religion in general, particularly with people who should know better. Yes, someone can be a good scientist in some fields and also be religious, but unless your friend is advocating smoking to others and raising his children to be smokers he isn’t really comparable to a religious person. He’s just a man who is well aware of the dangers of smoking and who has got himself caught up with one of the most addictive substances known. I, of course, don’t know your friend, but I doubt you’d have called them a good doctor if he was down playing the dangers of smoking to his patients.

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When I look at it that way, I’m forced to agree with you.

No, he didn’t advocate that his patients smoke, and I see your distinction.

@Kevin_Levites I know you have trouble reading people so I just want to make it clear that I value your opinions and insights even if we don’t completely agree on something :slight_smile: . Issues are often complex and you had a good point too when viewed from a different perspective. Your friend didn’t let his own lifestyle skew his work, which some religious scientists also seem to manage to a degree.


Thank you for seeing my side of it.

I’m very glad that we have always been able to have a healthy dialog over issues that we may not completely agree with . . . and we agreed on everything, it would be boring.

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I didn’t find this article interesting except as an example of bias. She interviewed a whole bunch of people looking for how they feel unable to freely express their religious beliefs in the work place. Surprise surprise she found some.

When I was preparing the interview questions that would form my Masters Thesis my advisor was relentless in ensuring that my questions wouldn’t influence the answers. This writer would have benefited from the same mentoring.

I can just imagine a mathematics prof stopping in the middle of an equation he is putting up on the chalk board to point out to the class the elegance of the proof and wondering aloud (Tucker Carlson style) if the elegant design might not hint at a larger design and that, who knows, might suggest …blah blah blah.

She cited an example of an interviewee feeling awkward when people didn’t engage and instead changed the subject away from religion. Well duh.

I wonder if she were to drill down into what exactly it is that the religious people in her study most valued. My guess would be the fellowship and sense of belonging that church can give a person rather than knowing there was a god in his/her heaven. Interesting? :-1: :-1:

To be fair if I were laying on an operating table and the surgeon wanted to pray to a god to keep his hand steady I’m likely to say, “what ever helps doc”