Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Deleted by the Kingman Arizona "Daily Miner"

I wrote a reply to the following creatocrap. It was deleted due to "excessive length."

Linda Athens Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Kingman Arizona "Daily Miner"

It is NOT a fact 99.9% of scientists believe in evolution. In fact, most good scientists believe in God. That is FACT.

Ms. Athens repeats a number of common creationist, and fundamentalist errors about science, faith, and history. I doubt that any of them are original with her, as they are easily found in creationist pamphlets. She makes an interesting misstatement claiming, "In fact, most good scientists believe in God." This was compounded because she prefaced it with the false assertion that significant numbers of scientists reject evolutionary theory in biology. (I'll ignore the trivial argument about 99.9% of anything. For the purpose of exposing Ms. Athens, 98.0%, or 69.99% are equally acceptable numbers).

We need to work backwards through this chain of errors. Her conclusion was that "good scientists believe in God." I reject that trivial falsehood that "good" can only be applied to a Christian, although Ms. Athens probably thinks so. In that case a "good" scientist is someone expert in, and professionally successful in science. The question of how these scientists think about the existence of gods, or a non-material immortal soul has been studied going back nearly a century. The following paragraph is closely adapted from Larson and Witham (1998).

James H. Leuba surveyed American scientists in 1914 regardering their belief, or non-belief in a personal god, and an immortal soul. 58% of 1,000 randomly selected US scientists expressed disbelief or doubt in the existence of God, and that this figure rose to near 70% among the 400 “greater” scientists within his sample. Leuba repeated his survey in somewhat different form 20 years later, and found that these percentages had increased to 67% and 85% (1933). Larson and Witham repeated Leuba’s 1914 survey in 1996 and found little change from 1914 for American scientists generally, with 60.7% expressing disbelief or doubt in the existence of gods. (Larson, E. J. & Witham, L. Nature 386, 435–436 1997).

Leuba had also identified "great scientists" as opposed to those merely employed in science. To try and match that population, Larson and Witman in 1998 surveyed members of the American National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The NAS is the most prestigious scientific organization in the United States. Established by Congress in 1863, membership is highly restricted. Larson and Witham found that, "Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality). Overall comparison figures for the 1914, 1933 and 1998 surveys appear in Table 1.


Personal belief 27.7 15 7.0
Personal disbelief 52.7 68 72.2
Doubt or agnosticism 20.9 17 20.8


Personal belief 35.2 18 7.9
Personal disbelief 25.4 53 76.7
Doubt or agnosticism 43.7 29 23.3*

* There was a typographic error. The agnostic position is likely ~16%.

Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham: "Leading Scientists Still Reject God." Nature, 1998; 394, 313.

Leuba, J. H. The Belief in God and Immortality: A Psychological, Anthropological and Statistical Study (Sherman, French & Co., Boston, 1916).


LadyAtheist said...

Maybe they'd run it as a letter. worth a try

Gary S. Hurd said...

It might be worth a try. I enjoyed your recent photo show on the babby turtles.

LadyAtheist said...

I don't recall posting turtle pictures but I'll take the credit for it!

Gary S. Hurd said...

I am so sorry, it was Wandering Weeta's post.

I had just finished looking at them.

Susannah Anderson said...

Thanks, Gary!