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Thread: Biologists and Physicists: which are more religious?

  1. #1 Biologists and Physicists: which are more religious? 
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    Does anyone know if there is a study comparing religion and field of study?

    My question is, who more often holds beliefs in a higher power - PHD Biologists or PHD Physicists? and what are the approximate percentages?


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    IIRC, the breakdown is thus (from highest religiosity to lowest):

    Chemistry
    Physics
    Astronomy
    Biology
    Psychology


    I'll see if I can find the study...


    EDIT: Found it.

    http://people-press.org/report/528/
    http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=474

    Levels of religious faith among scientists vary quite a bit depending on their specialty and age. Chemists, for instance, are more likely to believe in God (41%) than those who work in biology and medicine (32%).


    And here are a few neat breakdowns:








    However, while roughly 80% of americans believe in god, only about 30% of scientists do.

    http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/god...ther-americans


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    Fascinating stuff, iNow. I was especially taken with the fact that belief in God reduces with increasing age.

    Who said age don't bring wisdom!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Fascinating stuff, iNow.
    Thanks. I agree, which is probably why I remembered it after reading it so long ago. What I found fascinating was how there was a difference by research domain. I remember being taken aback when learning that chemists were the most religious of all sciences.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I was especially taken with the fact that belief in God reduces with increasing age.
    Indeed, but just bear in mind that the stat pertains only to scientists (it might apply to the general population... I'm not sure... but the above does not address that group). My sense on this is that science requires lifelong analytical and skeptical thinking, and the longer you spend breaking down problems and distilling issues to their component parts in an attempt to understand our universe, the less likely you are to find the god concept very compelling.
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    belief in god reduces with increasing age, only in this present survey it does not mean as you get older you believe less it means older scientist today believe less than the younger suggesting perhaps a trend towards religion as Antony Flew has suggested. remember these older scientist were taught by people who believed in a static universe, since then things have changed, this shows the progression of science toward religion. And i say good to see, i firmly believe religion does a lot of good; you will never find people more willing to give then among the religious most of our biggest charities and civil rights movements in the U.S. began as church groups.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    it does not mean as you get older you believe less it means older scientist today believe less than the younger suggesting perhaps a trend towards religion...

    <...>

    ...this shows the progression of science toward religion.
    Yeah, but reality sort of disagrees with you. Non-belief is the single fastest growing group when individuals are asked to identify which religious label most closely describes them, and this has been the trend for quite some time now... only growing in magnitude.



    http://evidenceforchristianity.blogs...f-atheism.html
    Interest in atheism is surging all over the world - even in the United States which had been resistant to it for so long. The reality is that people in modern society are rejecting the concept of "god" more than ever before, and this is really starting to frighten major religious institutions.

    In a 2008 Gallup survey, 15 percent of Americans claimed no religion at all. That is up from only 8% in 1990. That is almost a doubling in less than 20 years. That is stunning growth! In fact, the "non-religious" now outnumber all religious organizations in the United States except the Catholics and the Baptists.
    Please note, the above was taken from a site whose core purpose is trying to defend religion and belief... hardly able to be dismissed by believers as some liberal think tank or atheist propaganda group.


    Here is another write-up on this:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religio...ion-ARIS_N.htm
    These dramatic shifts in just 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), to be released today. It finds that, despite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990.

    <...>

    So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, "the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion," the report concludes.

    <...>

    The ARIS research also led in quantifying and planting a label on the "Nones" — people who said "None" when asked the survey's basic question: "What is your religious identity?"

    <...>

    Oregon once led the nation in Nones (18% in 1990), but in 2008 the leader, with 34%, was Vermont, where Nones significantly outnumber every other group.

    Meabh Fitzpatrick, 49, of Rutland, Vt., says she is upfront about becoming an atheist 10 years ago because "it's important for us to be counted. I'm a taxpayer and a law-abiding citizen and an ethical person, and I don't think people assume this about atheists."

    Not all Nones have made such a philosophical choice; most just unhook from religious ties.

    Diane Mueller, 43, of Austin, who grew up Methodist, says she's simply "totally disengaged from the church and the Bible, too." Sunday mornings for her family mean playing in a park, not praying in a pew.

    Ex-Catholic Dylan Rossi, 21, a philosophy student in Boston and a Massachusetts native, is part of the sharp fall in the state's percentage of Catholics — from 54% to 39% in his lifetime.

    Rossi says he's typical among his friends: "If religion comes up, everyone at the table will start mocking it. I don't know anyone religious and hardly anyone 'spiritual.' "

    Here is the actual 2008 survey in further support of my points: http://www.americanreligionsurvey-ar...s/NONES_08.pdf

    And a summary of the highlights: http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/

    All the indicators show that the major growth in the None population occurred during the 1990s, with annual growth averaging nearly 1.3 million people. Nones doubled their numbers and contributed almost 47% of the total national population growth in that decade. The growth rate has slowed at the beginning of the 21st Century. At their current rate of increase in the 2000s, Nones are adding to their ranks about 660,000 adults each year. The rate of growth of the Nones still exceeds the national rate of population growth.

    <...>

    Nones exist in every geographic region in the U.S., making up anywhere from 1 in 20 to 1 in 5 adults. In many ways, Nones are the invisible minority in the U.S. today —invisible because their social characteristics are very similar to the majority. Intriguingly, what this suggests is that the transition from a largely religious population to a more secular population may be so subtle that it can occur under the radar as happened during the 1990s. In the future we can expect more American Nones given that 22% of the youngest cohort of adults self-identify as Nones and they will become tomorrow’s parents. If current trends continue and cohorts of non-religious young people replace older religious people, the likely outcome is that in two decades the Nones could account for around one-quarter of the American population.


    I will say this... If you see all of that as a trend toward religion, you might wish to go punch your 2nd grade math teacher in the face for failing you so miserably. 8)
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    you will never find people more willing to give then among the religious
    I can't believe that I almost missed this part. That is another comment you've made with which reality seems to disagree.


    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/o...feel_good.html
    There is often such a simplistic view of Darwin's theory that many people argue such generosity toward others, especially strangers, is impossible.

    That's where the religious apologists step in. Atheism, many claim, is just too 'selfish' a world-view to do good.

    The real facts, however, are very different.

    <...>

    Over the past week, I've witnessed an incredible outpouring of atheist generosity. On Jan. 16, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) along with a dozen other secular organizations and bloggers formed Non-Believers Giving Aid (NBGA), a permanent fund set up to assist secular disaster relief organizations. In the case of Haiti: Doctors without Borders and the International Red Cross.

    The word went out across the internet and on the first day of operation the fund reached over $100,000. That giving has continued and now NBGA has reached over $400,000 with all the monies going for relief aid. At the present rate we shall reach half a million dollars soon. But even more stunning than the money are the numbers of donors. Over 9,000 people giving from over 50 different countries with an average donation of around $30. While there have been a few large donations, the vast majority come from people identifying themselves as non-believers who simply want to do something, even if they don't have much themselves.

    But it is not just disasters that spur Atheists on to action. I just spent Sunday morning with a group in Austin, Texas, called Atheists Helping the Homeless. As we handed out socks, gloves, soap, and such things to the 40 or 50 homeless people at 8.00am, a few yards away under the freeway was a church group setting up to give out food. Not without the sermon first, however. I never heard a single AHH volunteer ask if anyone was an atheist, tell them why they should be an atheist, or that atheism would lead them to happiness.

    It is not that we atheists are claiming the moral high-ground. We commend our religious counterparts for giving aid. It is just that we admit we do it because it makes us feel good. Some people might criticize our motive, but then they open the door to the criticism that doing good to get into heaven is not exactly a selfless act either.


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...rds-child.html
    “Preachers and televangelists, mullahs and imams, often seem almost to gloat over natural disasters – presenting them as payback for human transgressions, or for 'making a pact with the devil’,” he claims.

    “We do not hide behind the notion that earthly suffering will be rewarded in a heavenly paradise, nor do we expect a heavenly reward for our generosity. The myth that it is only the religious who truly care is sustained largely by the fact that they tend to donate not as individuals, but through their churches.”


    http://trueslant.com/michaelshermer/...vers-care-too/
    The campaign is called Non-Believers Giving Aid (http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net/) and is set up through PayPal. Richard Dawkins has generously offered to cover all the PayPal fees (up to $10,000) and the Skeptics Society got things started off with a bang with a $1000 donation. Within minutes of it’s launch on Saturday morning, tens of thousands of dollars started pouring in as members of the other participating groups (Sam Harris’ The Reason Project, The James Randi Educational Foundation, Atheist United, Atheist Alliance International, and many others) jumped in without hesitation. (All monies go to Doctors without Borders and the International Red Cross—you choose.)

    In less than half a day we passed the $50,000 mark, $100,000 in less than 24 hours, $175,000 by Sunday morning, and over a quarter of a million dollars by sunup Monday morning, and still climbing as I post this commentary. We’ll easily surpass a million dollars within days. Not a bad showing! But beyond the aid needed by the Haitians, why does this matter? Why do I need to brag about our generosity? Because people tend to believe that religious people are more generous than nonreligious people, and so it is important that we show our true colors now. As I noted for the press release issued by Dawkins’ foundation: “It’s all well and good to say that we nonbelievers are just as moral as believers (we are, but that’s a philosophical point)—actions count more than words and real donations are where the theoretical rubber meets the practical road. This is our time to pony up and show the world our true character.” And pony up nonbelievers did, in spades.
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    i am not convinced, i still know that religious people will tend to give more, just looking at the amounts in the article make that clear. on the other point are you suggesting then that the research shows that scientists become increasingly less religious as they age?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    i am not convinced, i still know that religious people will tend to give more, just looking at the amounts in the article make that clear.
    I'm not saying that the non-religious give more than the religious. What I'm saying is that it would be false to assume that religious people are more willing to give than other people (such as you've expressly claimed in your post above). That's false on it's face. The only reason the net amounts involved are higher among religious groups is because they represent such a significantly larger part of the population than do non-believers.


    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    on the other point are you suggesting then that the research shows that scientists become increasingly less religious as they age?
    Yes, that is precisely one of the findings of the research I cited above. As scientists age, they tend to get less religious. Also, scientists as a rule tend to be much less religious than the rest of the population. Finally, within scientific domains, chemists tend to have the highest religiosity scores relative to other research domains.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Fascinating stuff, iNow.
    Thanks. I agree, which is probably why I remembered it after reading it so long ago. What I found fascinating was how there was a difference by research domain. I remember being taken aback when learning that chemists were the most religious of all sciences.
    There's nothing in chemistry that beats you over the head with the fact that mainstream christianity is wrong. An astronomer or geologist probably knows damn well that the Earth isn't only 10k years old, and biologists deal with evolution all the time. Not so much with chemistry.
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    according to the article the skeptics society, being composed of fifty five thousand people gave just 1,000 dollars, this pales in comparison to what the salvation army has done or other religious groups and its not just money, its the people who actually go to Hati too, not just now but for years now before Hati hit the news. Yes certain religions makes people more giving, even the misguided pat robertson said "But right now, we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable"

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...602916_pf.html
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/p...w/3447051.html
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    I suppose you chose either to a) skip my previous post, or b) completely fail to grasp my point? Religious organizations result in more monies because they are such a larger proportion of our society.

    The net amount given, however, is completely irrelevant to willingness to give, and your drawing attention to net amount HARDLY supports your claim that "you will never find people more willing to give then among the religious." As I have shown, that is patently false since the non-religious also give... and give willingly.


    Your entire argument that "religion makes people more giving" is little more than a hollow and vacuous assertion which does not follow (is non-sequitur) from the evidence you are putting forth.

    I'm not sure why this is not obvious to you by now. Nobody is saying that religious people don't often help the unfortunate. Nobody is saying that their numbers don't allow them to gather enormous resources together (hell... just look at the vatican).

    The point, however, is that YOU claimed that you will "never find a person more WILLING to give than a religious person," and I am merely pointing out to you that your claim is utter bullshit, and that you are equally likely to find a willingness to give and to help among the non-religious and non-believers. The desire to help and to give is a human trait, not a religious one.
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    i have given links and it is quite true that religious people are the most giving, i am not affirming the validity of any religious claim just pointing out a positive of religion
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    according to the article the skeptics society, being composed of fifty five thousand people gave just 1,000 dollars, this pales in comparison to what the salvation army has done or other religious groups and its not just money, its the people who actually go to Hati too, not just now but for years now before Hati hit the news. Yes certain religions makes people more giving, even the misguided pat robertson said "But right now, we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable"

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...602916_pf.html
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/p...w/3447051.html
    Well being an atheist doesn't mean searching out atheist specific charities to give money to. I give to Oxfam and the Redcross every year, despite being one of those self-interested atheist. The only "charities" I would be reluctant to give to are missions that come with the strings of conversion attached. Also, clearly socialism is a political philosophy that strongly supports the redistribution of wealth, and has a strong base of atheist support.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    i have given links and it is quite true that religious people are the most giving, i am not affirming the validity of any religious claim just pointing out a positive of religion
    None of your links provided a comparison group against religious people, therefore you cannot logically conclude that religious people are the MOST giving (per capita). I don't discount that giving and aid work is a positive aspect of many religions. What I discount is your claim about the willingness to give being highest among those with a religious affiliation.

    That is simply and wholly untrue, and is little more than an empty assertion. Prove me wrong. I dare ye, but bet you can't.
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    think about it an individual is bound to be more giving when he or she finds religion
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    think about it an individual is bound to be more giving when he or she finds religion
    Oh... well... now that you put it THAT way...


    You're obviously not serious, nor do you seem to have enough integrity to support your assertion, or to admit you're mistaken (or, perhaps are not sufficiently intelligent to realize you are... I'm not sure which is the case here).


    Seriously, you are merely repeating a hollow and vacuous claim, and when challenged on that claim... repeatedly... you have failed to support it in a relevant fashion.


    Just to repeat:
    Quote Originally Posted by iNow
    It is false to assume that religious people are more willing to give than other people (such as you've expressly claimed in your post above). That's false on it's face. The only reason the net amounts involved are higher among religious groups is because they represent such a significantly larger part of the population than do non-believers.
    Quote Originally Posted by iNow
    The net amount given, however, is completely irrelevant to willingness to give, and your drawing attention to net amount HARDLY supports your claim that "you will never find people more willing to give then among the religious." As I have shown, that is patently false since the non-religious also give... and give willingly.

    <...>

    Nobody is saying that religious people don't often help the unfortunate. Nobody is saying that their numbers don't allow them to gather enormous resources together (hell... just look at the vatican).

    The point, however, is that YOU claimed that you will "never find a person more WILLING to give than a religious person," and I am merely pointing out to you that your claim is utter bullshit, and that you are equally likely to find a willingness to give and to help among the non-religious and non-believers. The desire to help and to give is a human trait, not a religious one.
    Quote Originally Posted by iNow
    None of your links provided a comparison group against religious people, therefore you cannot logically conclude that religious people are the MOST giving (per capita). I don't discount that giving and aid work is a positive aspect of many religions. What I discount is your claim about the willingness to give being highest among those with a religious affiliation.

    That is simply and wholly untrue, and is little more than an empty assertion. Prove me wrong. I dare ye, but bet you can't.


    And... How did you respond?

    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    think about it an individual is bound to be more giving when he or she finds religion
    Perhaps I can simplify my own response thusly: I have thought about it, Ishmael, and your assertion that religious people are more willing to give than non-religious people remains baseless, without merit, and wholly unsupported... not to mention inherently bigoted and ignorant.
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    i have given links and i know from life experience, but that aside, if you look at my original comment i was not looking for an argument i was making a comment, and what i said in my last comment i still know to be true after having read your comments. What i'm saying is that, you will not convince me.

    [Preaching Removed]
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    if you look at my original comment i was not looking for an argument i was making a comment
    That does not make your comment any less baseless or inaccurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    What i'm saying is that, you will not convince me.
    That's unfortunate. I can readily accept my own failure to get through to you. My sincere hope is that perhaps one day someone else will.




    EDIT: Removed my response to the preaching text moderated above, as the quote I previously shared now lacks context.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    think about it an individual is bound to be more giving when he or she finds religion
    This might actually be a valid hypothesis. Religious cults are clearly more organized socially than individuals who are non-religious and not organized in cults or other social groups. There is also the added social pressures of fellow cult-members and social self-controls that weed out freeriders, so the need to give as a display of personal piety as well as a response to cult authority is present among the religious where it isn't among the non-religious.

    I think this is, however, something that is changing as non-religious and secular organizations emerge or existing organizations emerge as friendly to the secular humanist, the social pressures for charity increase as well. While not for public displays of "piety," these pressures would certainly be psychologically similar, and the potential giver would be presented with a need to "give to charity" in order to find group acceptance. Social groups are good at self-organizing as they evolve to eliminate free-riders and promote group unity.

    Were there a way to truly control for pure, altruistic charity, I think the religious and non-religious would emerge as equally giving (or non-giving, depending on the perspective). The author of the SCCBS claims to have controlled for this, but his methods don't appear to hold up. Actual altruistic behavior is probably near impossible to locate since, by definition, the behavior is done by someone who cares not for the recognition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    if you look at my original comment i was not looking for an argument i was making a comment
    That does not make your comment any less baseless or inaccurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    What i'm saying is that, you will not convince me.
    That's unfortunate. I can readily accept my own failure to get through to you. My sincere hope is that perhaps one day someone else will.




    EDIT: Removed my response to the preaching text moderated above, as the quote I previously shared now lacks context.

    And you called me (with everyone else here) mentaly ill when I said they do not deserve to be apart of our future, I hope you do enjoy your faliure trying to "talk them through" as a basic priniciple in your life.

    I hope you realize now at least that your attempts are as hollow and vacuous as the preacher`s nonsense.. could be looked at as knowledge show off nothing more according to the total outcome of this conversation, nothing postive you add to the situation evenif you are on the right track.

    Maybe it`s going to be too late unless intelligent individuals try to open their eyes just little bit wider and have some foresight for a change.

    But who cares about my opinion, you have already decided Im a bloodthirsty butcher, like the theists who decided we are evil demons and will burn in hell.
    Ignorance is a bless...
    ... Im utterly cursed.
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    Gosh. I bet if I could understand what you were yammering about it would turn out to be interesting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moody
    But who cares about my opinion
    I couldn't have said it any better myself.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I was especially taken with the fact that belief in God reduces with increasing age.
    Indeed, but just bear in mind that the stat pertains only to scientists (it might apply to the general population... I'm not sure... but the above does not address that group). My sense on this is that science requires lifelong analytical and skeptical thinking, and the longer you spend breaking down problems and distilling issues to their component parts in an attempt to understand our universe, the less likely you are to find the god concept very compelling.
    I would suggest that what the age breakdown shows is the difference between the effect of a religious orientation has on whether one becomes a scientist and the actual change that occurs after becoming a scientist.

    I know quite well how much the study of science can challenge ones preconceptions about the nature of reality. And I would suggest that the science that does that the least is chemistry. Though the change in religious orientation is not necessarily all because of what one learns in science, for there is also the simple fact that the kind of people that become scientists are those who place a rather high priority on asking questions about the nature of things around them.

    However what the study does not discern is whether this change is really only in one direction or not. Because of the predominance of religion in society at large this may mean it is only natural to expect that the change from religious to non religious is going to be greater than the change from non-religious to religious. The reason this occurs to me is because I am in that latter category of scientist from a non-religious background who became religious afterwards.


    By the way, hello Ophiolite, its been a while.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Because of the predominance of religion in society at large this may mean it is only natural to expect that the change from religious to non religious is going to be greater than the change from non-religious to religious.
    Further thoughts...

    If the lowest age bracket does represent their initial religious orientation then there is a clear bias toward change toward the non-religious direction. But I think that needs to be confirmed with more data because even the lowest age bracket reported in that study could represent those who have already begun to move from the religious viewpoint to the scientific -- that is those who have already experienced some disillusionment with the religion they were raised under or have already chosen science over religion as a more reliable source of truth. Regardless, I can well understand that those who choose this direction are not likely to be disappointed by comparison.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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    I have no intention of attempting to refute the stats expressed in the early part of this thread as they might apply to some schools of scientific investigation.

    However, it does not appear that this same trend would apply to population in general.

    A study chart found at http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/resea...ges/aris22.jpg
    suggests that a population in general becomes more religious as it ages.

    The chart in exhibit five divides the population into four groups: 18-34;35-49;50-65; 65 and over. The percent of those who consider themselves religious, according the chart, increases as the age group ages in the following progression: 27, 38, 42, 47. If you add in those who consider themselves somewhat religious the percentages change to 70, 78, 78, 81.

    Meanwhile those who consider themselves secular or somewhat secular decrease as age increases in the following percentages: 28, 15, 15, 10.

    The study as a whole is rather broad and appears to be by a neutral institution and is copyrighted 2006 so it is fairly recent. The link to the entire study is http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/resea...y_findings.htm
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Or... more likely is that we are misrepresenting the results and that a person's religious outlook is set strongly when they are younger and that outlook is contingent upon the environment in which they were raised.

    In short, elder people are more religious because they were brought up in an environment where religion was more prominent and central to society.

    If we accept that premise, it makes more sense that older people are more religious than younger people, since older people had their ideologies and outlooks formed and reinforced in an environment where religion was more important... and we can conclude that religiosity will continue to decrease as younger generations are raised in the present environment where religion is much less prominent and much less important... and those younger generations continue to replace the older ones.

    Thank Thor for that. 8)


    Wait a second... Whatever happened to Thor? Oh yeah... People who believed in him kept dying and getting replaced by people who did not believe in him.
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  29. #28  
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    You skew statistics your way; we'll skew statistics our way.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    The ARIS study is a fascinating one and has been cited in this forum previously, though this is the first instance where I've seen it used as an attempt to defend religious belief.

    The data are what they are. They cannot be "skewed" to show what one wants unless one is willing to obscure part of the picture.

    In the 2001 study linked above, the finding was that a snapshot of several age groups reveals that the older age groups have the higher religiosity. This is hardly the same thing as stating that the data show that as an individual ages he/she becomes more religious. While this is a possibility, it isn't supported by the data and what is more likely is that as a population evolves its demographics adjust such that religiosity is reduced, leaving those who were already religious in a status quo (the older generations) with the younger generations in a changing state.

    This is supported by the data and more aptly characterized by the 2008 ARIS study, which shows that the 30-49 year age range (of which 38% of the U.S. population is comprised) also contains the highest numbers of religious people. Incidentally, this same age range contains the highest percentage of "nones" (41%), consistent with a growing and evolving population.

    Among the ARIS 2008 findings were:

    • 86% of American adults identified as Christian in 1990 dropping to 76% in 2008.
    • The "Nones" (atheist, agnostic, no religious preference) grew from 8.2% in 1990 to 15.0% in 2008.
    • 70% of Americans believe in a personal god.
    • About 12% of Americans are atheist or agnostic and another 12% are deistic.


    http://livinginliminality.files.word...eport_2008.pdf
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    When I said they were "more religious," it was not a statement on the quality of their religion but intended to say more of them are religious.

    Subsequent polls have shown that the reduction in numbers of Christians is not a reduction of believers, but rather displays a recent proclivity for some believers to eschew being identified with a denomination. And then atheists and agnostics rush in to claim them as non believers. The most recent Pew poll shows 90 some percent believers, many of them who are unaffiliated with a specific religion, but who are definitely not atheists who rank at 7.6 percent in the U.S. If I recall,
    Skinwalker, you corrected me to that number a few months back when I rounded down to 7.5 percent and you pointed out what a significant number of people that .1 percent represented.

    We have hashed out the showings of these polls many times here and it seems you can usually find a poll someplace which will show whatever it is you want to show.

    It seems almost silly and infantile to pull out an obscure poll from someplace with the idea that it actually proves something. But if you take polls like the Gallup Polls, the Harris Polls and the Pew Polls which I think are fairly unbiased, toss them together and stir them up, you can get some sort of a general picture which is still probably going to look exactly like you want it to look.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    If it's silly or infantile (and I'm not clear if you're referring to the ARIS polls or not), then its of your doing. I'm citing the sources you provided.


    With regard to my clarification, I intended it as just that. Your post was written in such a way that it could easily be read that you were asserting that as a group of individuals aged, their religiosity increased. You did use the words "a population in general becomes more religious as it ages," which isn't clear as to whether you mean the individuals who comprise the population over time, or the curve of the existing population as one follows it across a graph spatially.

    The ARIS numbers represent about 24% of the population that are in the "Nones" category and their survey instruments allowed for those believers who preferred to be part of anonymous denominations, thus the distinction between theists (personal god(s)) and deists.

    The atheists and agnostics comprised nearly 12% (probably 11 point something) and the deists another 12%.

    I know of no Christians who consider themselves "deist," though I'm sure this sort could exist at least in their own minds.
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    I say tomato, you say tomahto. You go ahead and wrestle with the semantics. I have no idea why you insist in ragging on an ambigious statement after it was clarified.

    Different polls show different things at different times and different polls show the same thing but at different times. The same polls show different things at different times.

    The differences can be due to several factors among which is the population surveyed, the time frame of the poll (July v. December, e.g.), the questions asked, the way they are asked, the order they are asked and how they might lead the polled in a certain direction. There are times when polls are biased merely because the pollster has a biased starting point.

    The ARIS poll tends to echo what many other polls show -- that people in the 18-35 age bracket are less likely to profess belief in a religion than are people in older age groups. It is difficult to compare this finding with the polls inow used to show that older scientists are less likely to profess belief than are younger scientists.

    I used that poll because it appears to be an unbiased poll and it tended to answere an early question as to whether showings of polls inow used were representative of the general public.

    About the only conclusion I can draw is that polling different populations produces different results. And then when you divide the science group down into even smaller specialized populations, you are getting less and less representative of the larger picture. Should you then divide, say, the biologists into zoologists and botanists and those working in micro-biology v. those working in macro biology? Surely, but doing so, you will eventually find a group which produces a number you like and then you can project that onto the entire group. I'm using the collective you here.

    Were the polls inow was siting taken in a cross section of secular and religious universities? Or if they were only taken at secular state universities, how much different would the result be if they had been taken in more religious universties?

    My point was not to dispute the polls inow showed, but rather to suggest that all polls must be taken with a grain of salt in view of the fact that something in the poll may inadvertantly skew the results to produce a less than perfect result, even a misleading result.

    Some people are very prone to seeing a poll that supports what they already believe and then hanging their hat on it as proof because it has some "scientific" basis without considering that it may also have some "scientific" bias.

    (adding to original post)

    I do not know what connotation others apply to Deist. In a sense, it could refer to people who believe in a non-personal God as opposed to those who believe in a personal God. It could also be considered the large group which believes in a God from which smaller groups of different kinds of believers can be drawn. In the second instance, I suppose Christians could be considered a form of deists.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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    First - The polls sample was large enough to comprise a relateively accurate representation/cross-section of the population as a whole.

    Second - Your entire post reads thusly: "Polls are good if they support my preconceptions, polls are bad if they don't." I know that is not what you intended, but it's what comes across.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    By the way, hello Ophiolite, its been a while.
    :-D
    Mitchell. You are back. I was afraid you might be dead!
    I am preparing instructions in the event of my own demise for my son to issue a suite of ad hominems across many forums, so I am delighted it wasn't something you had simply forgotten to do. I hope all goes well with you.
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    Actually, inow, I think that is exactly what I intended to say. Not directed at you specifically, inow, but merely suggesting a tendency of us all. The best polls are always those which support what we already believe.

    I know I am far more likely to check out and investigate a poll that seems out of whack with what I think I have seen before or if it seems to deviate far from trends that I have observed. Meanwhile, I am probably more likely to give deference to a poll which seems to agree with that which seems to follow what I have seen before or which seems to agree with my own preconceived notions.

    I'm sure there are people who would claim they do not do this, but the only one they are fooling is themself.

    I remember a while back someone attempted to show that a huge percentage of scientists are not believers. For support, he cited a poll of the science profs at what turned out to be a notoriously atheistic British university that involved only about half the staff. That, to me, is a classic example of someone grasping at straws to support a position with very close to bogus information. I wonder how a similar poll taken among science profs at various Loyola universities would turn out.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    The best polls are always those which support what we already believe.
    That's what happens when you use an ill-defined term like "best." In my mind... having spent considerable time working with polling and research during my life... the "best" polls are those which are well phrased, have a large enough sample, have a sample that accurately reflects the overall population, and which has clarity in response choices... even better when those response choices can be quantized.

    You said best. In my mind, that has absolutely zero to do with reinforcing preconceptions, but I do take your point about human nature and affirming evidence being more salient in our minds than that which is contradictory or ambiguous.

    Either way, I was a little concerned with that previous post submitted by you, as you really did little more than attempt to sow uncertainty and doubt on all polls ever conducted, without ever pin-pointing any methodological flaws or errors in those being cited here in this thread in this discussion. I see that approach to debate and dialog as incredibly weak and lacking integrity, but that's just a pet peeve of mine, really.

    Now, speaking of the studies cited in this thread, primarily the ARIS work... Unless you are capable of pointing to flaws in their techniques or analysis, I'm inclined to accept their conclusions as valid... Despite your hand-wavey and tangential argument about the tendency for humans to look for data which offers us affirmation of our preconceptions.
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    I am consistently amazed at your inablility to understand tounge-in-cheek comments like the "best polls" when you perfectly well know, and you know that I know, that what followed is not a proper criterion for evaluating a poll.

    But I do admit to skepticism even for polls with good reputations dating back many years to my first college class in sociology when the prof impressed upon us the unattributable line about lies, damn lies and statistics. I have no idea what he was relating it to, but it has stuck with me the idea that people can be impressed by numbers, even if they show the wrong thing. When people start throwing poll numbers around, I begin to wonder about them.

    I seem to recall that the Pew pollsters realized recently that they had been including people who selected unaffiliated as an answer in the non-believer category only to discover that a portion of them were believers who merely considered themselves unaffiliated with a specific religion.

    The point, of course, is that any poll should be scritinized very closely, even if it is from a reputable pollster. As to the ARIS poll I cited, I thought it showed what other similar period polls showed. At the same time, I think thnose numbers have changed slightly in more recent polls, but I was unable to find one compiled showing those specific findings that way.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    ARIS really isn't on the order of "polls" in the way Pew or Gallup are. Theres was a study that is longitudinal and large-scale. It has research questions, a detailed methodology and statistical outcomes that are far and beyond a simple "poll."

    Granted, they're using some of the same principles, but the methods are more detailed and the research design more controlled than an ad hoc phone poll.

    They're more on order with the General Social Survey.
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  40. #39  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    When people start throwing poll numbers around, I begin to wonder about them.
    <...>
    The point, of course, is that any poll should be scritinized very closely, even if it is from a reputable pollster.
    <...>
    At the same time, I think thnose numbers have changed slightly in more recent polls, but I was unable to find one compiled showing those specific findings that way.
    So you are here confirming that you have no specific problems with their methodology, their analysis, or their conclusions which you can support in even a remotely rational and reasonable manner. Thanks. That's pretty much as I expected.
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    I guess I should go back and take a closer look at some more ARIS stuff. You folks seem so defensive about it, you must think it supports your ideas that atheism is growing by leaps and bounds and will, maybe within the next 10 years, become the dominant world view throughout Western civilization.

    There does not seem to have been any really significant shifts in belief groups, but more in methods of defining and measuring them. But, again, I guess that depends on what one considers "significant."

    To tell the truth, I have long been surprized at the low numbers polls produce for those who claim to be atheists. But then, I live in an area of the country which is lower in religious participation than other parts of the country.

    I am always concerned if a poll attempts to characterize it data and that can be subtle. If a poll says some group grew substantially with a change of 2 percent and then turns around says some other group decreased slightly with the same change of 2 percent, there is a bias in the presentation even though the numbers may be absolutely accurate.

    I did not quite understand an aspect of the ARIS methodology when they seemed to say the information had been gathered over an 18-year period. I did not know if they meant they had collected data for 18 years and compile all that data into one report or if they had collected data annually and were now making comparisons among the different years, attempting to show trends.

    If it were the former, we would have a pretty good picture of a two decade period which would not speak directly to any specific year in the study. The couple of ARIS articles I looked at did not seem to be comparing the first year with the last year or years in between in an attempt to draw a trend line.

    Over all, I am not shocked at polls that show atheism with some slight growth (oops characterization!!!) and organized church movements showing more significant decreases.

    I think the most significant trend line over the last 20 years has been a departure of believers from organized groups toward more personalized, individual-specific belief systems -- that is, people who believe but do not participate with any organized congregation of believers.

    One thing in the ARIS studies that raised a caution flag for me was the continued definition of a group as "unaffiliated." This remains a rather ambiguous term being applied to a rather sizeable group. I think the last couple of Pew polls have tried to scope that group out a little more definitely.
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  42. #41  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    If a poll says some group grew substantially with a change of 2 percent and then turns around says some other group decreased slightly with the same change of 2 percent, there is a bias in the presentation even though the numbers may be absolutely accurate.
    If a group grows by 2% points from 10% to 12% that is a substantial growth (20% to be precise).
    If another group decreases by 2% points from 50% to 48% then that is indeed a slight decrease. (Only a 4% drop, in fact.)

    That is not a bias in presentation, but a proper application of qualitative descriptors to a quantitative change.
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    Obviously, I did not make it clear that I understand the differences. I really was thinking percent based on previous percent such that 10.2 percent is a two percent increase over 10 percent while 12 is actually a 20 percent increase over 10.

    I am always amused when tax measures are proposed and the proponents are able to sell people on the idea that an increase form 10 to 11 percent is only a one precent increase while opponents do not seem to be able to show people that it is actually a 10 percent increase in taxes.

    I note that Ophiolite compares point changes -- not the same as percent changes. Apples and oranges.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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  44. #43  
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I note that Ophiolite compares point changes -- not the same as percent changes. Apples and oranges.
    As written, your remarks were referencing changes in percentage points, not percentages.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    I know of no Christians who consider themselves "deist," though I'm sure this sort could exist at least in their own minds.
    Well there is more than one meaning to the word "deist". There is Deism as a theology which sees God as one who started the ball rolling but only observes and does not participate and I think that is quite incompatable with Christianity. But there are other uses of the term where that belief is not part of it. In some case it simply refers to a rational approach (or may I suggest a methodological naturalist approach) to Christianity in which case I am definitely a Deist in that sense.

    Deism is often associated with the rejection of the idea that God suspends the natural laws of the universe, which would also make me a Deist, athough I do believe in the reality of miracles and revelation because I don't think that the natural laws are as restrictive as some people make them out to be.

    However by rejecting both unitarianism and universalism, I have very little in common with what most self professed Deists seem to believe.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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