Gene Expression

Godless professors?

There is a working paper out which reports on the nature of the religiousness of the professoriate. Some data of interest….

* Proportion of professors with “No religion” – 31% (vs. ~10% for the general public)

“I don’t believe in God” – 10% (vs. 2.8% for the general public)
“I don’t know whether there is a God, and I don’t believe there is a way to find out” – 13.4% (vs. 4.1% for the general public)
“I don’t believe in a personal God, but I do believe in a Higher Power of some kind” – 19.6%
“I find myself believing in God some of the time, but not at others” – 4.4%
“While I have my doubts, I feel that I do believe in God” – 16.9%
“I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it” – 35.7%

Proportion of “atheists and agnostics” (first two categories above)
Elite doctorate granting institution – 36.6%
BA granting institution – 22.7%
Community College – 15.2%
Psychology – 61%
Biology – 61
Mechanical Engineering – 50%
Economics – 40%
Political Science – 40%
Computer Science – 40%

Proportion exhibiting “No doubt that God exists”
Accounting – 63%
Elementary Education – 56.8%
Finance – 48.6%
Marketing – 46.5%
Art – 46.2%
Criminal Justic – 46.2%
Nursing – 44%

Views on the Bible….
“Actual Word of God” 6.1%
“Ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts” 51.6%
“Inspirted word of god” 42%

Major caveat, the author makes it clear that the disciplinary results are probably biased by the type of institution. For example, it seems plausible that a Community College is more likely to have members on the faculty in Art, Accounting or Finance than Mechanical Engineering.

One interesting finding is that though theism is alive and well in the professoriate, literalism is very weak. This goes toward one contention which I have made several times: the bias for supernaturalism, and religion in general, is far stronger than a bias for literalism or a particular specific religious orientation.

Related: God and the social scientists.

Comments

  1. #1 John Emerson
    October 28, 2006

    When this kind of question was asked earlier here about liberalism I suggested that people in the more practical disciplines were more conservative. (As I recall, schoolteachers and nurses were more conservative than the government-dependence of their jobs would suggest, because they were mostly practical people making a living.)

    The same trend is apparent here with theism. I wish that math and physicas had been included.

  2. #2 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    October 28, 2006

    I’m pretty sure the professor who taught my atheism class last year was a nonbeliever.

  3. #3 Babbler
    October 28, 2006

    Proportion exhibiting “No doubt that God exists”
    Accounting – 63%

    It’s like what my dad always says: I know there is a God, and he lives at Revenue Canada.

  4. #4 Steven Hines
    October 28, 2006

    I’m very curious what exactly you mean by “supernaturalism”?

  5. #5 razib
    October 28, 2006

    I’m very curious what exactly you mean by “supernaturalism”?

    ghosts, gods, miracles, fates, etc.

  6. #6 Rikurzhen
    October 28, 2006

    same questions as the GSS

  7. #7 Mouth of the Yellow River
    October 28, 2006

    Ni Hao! Kannichi Wa!

    The concept of God is the greatest conceptual exercise triggered by random mutation that impacts neural function that an organism can have.

    The key question is whether it can have selective survival value.

    It got us through one of the most threatening periods of selective pressures for survival of the conceptual aspects of neural function we identify with the human species, the so-called Dark Ages.

    In those days expression of such neural function seems to have had to remain secluded, sometimes persecuted(selective value), and protected by the governing powers in order to survive.

    Examples are cloistered priests, the only ones to conceptualize under Christian regimes (theoretically forbidden to pass on the genes, but de facto no problem, maybe with the nuns?), Jewish Rabbis (conceptualizing males who married daughters of the clever general survivors, the moneychangers), and their followers in all societies so far (except America), Buddhist priests in their temples, Imams in their Mosques, etc. and those under their influence and many variants in worldwide history niches. These are what we call “religions.”

    Can this selection for neural function called concept, logic, the concept of God, and in some arguments the scientific method become general?

    That is heaven, paradise, nirvana, the vision of Marx/Engels.

  8. #8 gh
    October 29, 2006

    “I’m very curious what exactly you mean by “supernaturalism”

    how about new age fads ?

  9. #9 razib
    October 29, 2006

    The key question is whether it can have selective survival value.

    no, it isn’t the key question. all societies have religion, so on some level it must be selected for. there are two primary ways one can conceive of this

    a) religion is selected directly, that is, the religious have a higher fitness than the non-religious

    b) religion is a correlated response, a byproduct, to other aspects of our humanity which are selected for. in this conception religion is like heat that is a byproduct of work, an engine produces motion, but it also produces heat. complex cognition may necessitate the bias toward religiosity

    i tend to lean toward the latter because non-religiosity has existed at low levels through written history. this suggests to me that there isn’t positive direct selection for religion. but the answer is probably a mix of factors.

    It got us through one of the most threatening periods of selective pressures for survival of the conceptual aspects of neural function we identify with the human species, the so-called Dark Ages.

    i really can’t make sense of this. i don’t believe that the dark ages were any more, or less, religious that the pre or post dark ages

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