Hugh Pickens writes: "The Washington Post has a book review of "Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think" by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund who did a detailed survey of 1,646 scientists at elite American research universities that reveals that scientists often practice a closeted faith worrying about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. "After four years of research, at least one thing became clear: Much of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. The 'insurmountable hostility' between science and religion is a caricature, a thought-cliche, perhaps useful as a satire on groupthink, but hardly representative of reality," writes Ecklund. Unsurprisingly, Ecklund found that 64 percent of scientists are either atheists (34%) or agnostic (30%) but only five of the 275 in-depth interviewees actively oppose religion and even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves "spiritual" with one describing his spiritual atheism as being rooted in "wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence," a sentiment many nonscientists — religious or not — would recognize. "According to the scientists I interviewed, the academy seems to have a “strong culture” that suppresses discussion about religion in many areas," says Ecklund. "Yet so few scientists talk openly about issues related to religion that we do not know the true consequences of having such discussions. To remove the perceived stigma, we would need to have more scientists talking openly about issues of religion, where such issues are particularly relevant to their discipline.""
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