Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Economists "the least irreligious"? 

In a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only), a survey by the Association for the Sociology of Religion finds that scholars in the natural sciences are more likely to identify themselves as nonreligious than those in the social sciences.
The finding, which is based on a recent survey of 1,646 scholars at 21 top-tier research universities, stands in counterpoint to several well-known studies from the mid-20th century, all of which found that social scientists were the least religious group on campus.

The new study covers scholars in three natural-science fields (physics, chemistry, and biology) and four social sciences (sociology, economics, political science, and psychology). Among the natural scientists, 55.4 percent of the respondents identified themselves as atheists or agnostics. Only 47.5 percent of the social scientists said the same.

The single most irreligious field covered in the study is biology, at 63.4 percent. The least irreligious is economics, at 45.1.
The association's press release is here. Only one in four respondents overall agreed with the statement that "The Bible is the inspired word of God, but not everything in it should be taken literally."