First, doctors are not really scientists, even though they are well trained and responsible. World-wide, more parents want their children to be doctors than anything else. It is reported that, in a survey of 1,125 doctors in the U.S., 76% believed in God and 60% in some sort of afterlife. The report went on to say that this figure was close to the 83% previously obtained for the general population.
Then, there is a September 1999 Scientific American article by Larry Witham (photo just left, a journalist) and Edward Larson (photo below, Professor of Law at Pepperdine University, who won the Pulitzer Prize in History the previous year, 1998), which reported on a survey of the biological and physical science (including mathematics) members of theNational Academy of Sciences. This survey repeated a study undertaken by James Leuba (photo above left) in 1914, and again in 1933. There were only two questions:
o Do you believe in a God in intellectual and affective communication with man to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer?
o Do you believe in personal immortality (that is, is there an afterlife)?
In 1914, Leuba found that one in three of the “greater” scientists expressed belief in God, and only a slightly higher fraction in the afterlife. In 1933, less than 20% believed in both. Leuba’s prediction, similar to Dawkins’, was that, as there is greater progress in science, religious disbelief should grow. Did it?
In the recent survey of National Academy of Sciences members, less than 10% believed in both. Remember, the general American populace figure is between 59% and 96 %, depending on the question. Biologists had a belief rate of around 5%. An astounding 72% are outright atheists. In any case, our top scientists just do not believe in God and an afterlife.
Leuba was right, at least for top scientists. One would hope that there has been an improvement in science education in our schools, but, funny, he was wrong, there, for something else—maybe family upbringing—overrode schooling in God belief. The Takahashi Extension is that, into the future, as the World population becomes more educated, religious belief will dramatically suffer, except maybe in the U.S. because of the reverse Santa Claus Syndrome. Ah, this second part is a joke. I’ll stick to this Extension, for if it worked for the best thinking people, it should eventually apply to the masses, too, and I have some Time statistics to back me:
o In 1976 38% of Americans believed that the Bible was literally true, while in 2006, this figure dropped to 28%.
o In 1976 13% viewed The Bible as an ancient book of fables, while in 2006, this figure rose to 19%.
While this rise represents almost a 50% increase in rationality, it still means that 81% of Americans believe that The Bible is NOT an ancient book of fables.
Well, if the Takahashi Extension ultimately prevails, which could take many generations, then kamikaze terrorists will all but disappear. Unfortunately, the July 7, 2005 and subsequent bombings of the London transport system already begins to omen higher longevity, as mere rage might be sufficient cause to continue the terror. The advent of home-grown, clean skin—not necessarily lack of facial hair, though this is also increasing, but good citizens with no previous records—believers to the cause will make prevention much more difficult. Totally unrelated to religion, there will most likely also be a growing incidence of environmental terrorism, for, any form of perceived injustice involving only a handful of dedicated individuals can affect the greater masses through the destruction of symbolic targets.
So, in conclusion, top scientists have a much lower belief rate than the average person. In fact, to a good degree, with notable exceptions, of course, scientists reject the concept of God and the Afterlife. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life essentially confirmed all the above last year:
The Dow Jones Industrials snuck above 11,000 for first time in a year and a half on Monday, and today, got to 11,001, but ended at 10,997, up 70 for the day. The Nikkei is at 11,204. World markets were just about all up. Gold increased $11/toz to $1161 and crude oil edged below $85/barrel.