WASHINGTON — Only a third of scientists say they believe in God, according to a new survey, and while 18 percent believe in a high power, four in 10 scientists believe in neither.
The report was released July 9 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Scientists were evenly split — at 48 percent each — between those who claimed a religious affiliation and those who did not.
The new statistics vary sharply with findings for the general public: 83 percent of Americans say they believe in God and 82 percent said they are affiliated with a religious tradition.
The Pew report indicated sharp divergence between scientists and the general public on issues such as evolution and climate change. While 87 percent of scientists believe humans have evolved over time, just 32 percent of Americans in general hold that belief.
A similarly large percentage of scientists (84 percent) said the earth is warming because of human activity, while only 49 percent of the public agreed with that statement.
Also, while 93 percent of scientists favor federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, just 58 percent of the general public agreed with such research.
But despite differences between scientists and the general public, a majority of people acknowledge that science contributes to the well-being of society.
Two-thirds of people surveyed who said science conflicts with their religious beliefs nevertheless said scientists contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being. A slightly higher percentage (72 percent) of people who said there were not conflicts between their beliefs and science had similar praise for scientific contributions to society.
The report was based on a random sample of the scientific association’s 2,533 members, and a random survey of 2,001 U.S. adults. Each of those surveys had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.