Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Religion among Academic Scientists: Distinctions, Disciplines, and Demographics

Elaine Howard Ecklund and Christopher P. Scheitle
Social Problems
Vol. 54, No. 2 (May 2007), pp. 289-307
DOI: 10.1525/sp.2007.54.2.289
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sp.2007.54.2.289
Page Count: 19
  • Download ($42.00)
  • Cite this Item
Item Type
Article
References
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Religion among Academic Scientists: Distinctions, Disciplines, and Demographics
Preview not available

Abstract

The religiosity of scientists is a persistent topic of interest and debate among both popular and academic commentators. Researchers look to this population as a case study for understanding the intellectual tensions between religion and science and the possible secularizing effects of education. There is little systematic study, however, of religious belief and identity among academic scientists at elite institutions, leaving a lacuna of knowledge in this area. This absence of data exists at a time when the intersection between religion and science is reaching heightened public attention. Especially with increased tensions surrounding teaching evolution in the public schools, understanding what kind of resources scientists have (particularly in terms of their own religious beliefs and practices) to transmit science to a broader religiously-motivated public is crucial. Using data from a recent survey of academic scientists at twenty-one elite U.S. research universities, we compare the religious beliefs and practices of natural and social scientists within seven disciplines as well as academic scientists to the general population. We find that field-specific and interdisciplinary differences are not as significant in predicting religiosity as other research suggests. Instead, demographic factors such as age, marital status, and presence of children in the household are the strongest predictors of religious difference among scientists. In particular, religiosity in the home as a child is the most important predictor of present religiosity among this group of scientists. We discuss the relevance these findings have for understanding issues related to current theory and public debate about the intersection between religion and science.

Page Thumbnails