The Spirituality of Scientists

© Darek Krzeminski, http://www.sxc.hu

Last month I wrote about sociologist Elaine Ecklund’s survey of American scientist’s beliefs. One interesting result of this survey was that a large proportion of scientists considered themselves to be ‘spiritual’*.

Ecklund and her team predicted that elite scientists in the US would be largely irreligious, and that ‘they would eschew the fuzzier forms of religiously eclectic spirituality which have become common in the general population.’ What they found was quite the reverse: that many scientists (including 20% of atheists) considered themselves ‘religious’, and 70% considered themselves ‘spiritual’ in their beliefs, experiences and practices.

Many of the scientists surveyed saw their spirituality as a personal journey of discovery, a sort of ‘meaning-making without faith’ similar to science. There was a rejection of religion, which was seen as dogmatic, judgmental, controlling, involving believing things without evidence, and incompatible with science. Continue reading