Last modified on 20 February 2017, at 06:57

Atheists and the National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a non-profit organization created by and sanctioned by the United States federal government. The purpose of the agency is to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.[1] The NAS is comprised of approximately 2,000 members.

Religious beliefs of National Academy of Sciences scientists

Survey of the religious beliefs of NAS scientists

Atheist apologists often point out that a 1088 survey, published in the science journal Nature by Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham, found that 93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not believe in a personal God (The term personal God refers to a God who answers prayers and who communicates actively and effectively with people).[2][3][4]

However, they fail to point out several relevant matters given below.

Poor survey design

Randal Rauser, an associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary, indicates:

The study never asked about belief in God in general, but about belief in a very personal God who answers prayers and communicates actively and effectively with people. In other words, respondents didn’t comment on God in general, just this specific formulation of a very personal God. The questions would likely put many deists, as well as theists who tend to doubt people’s reports of God communicating directly with them, in the category of unbeliever...

The questions were worded poorly.6 So much so, that Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, examined the study and concluded that the questions were so poorly worded that that the survey was “not well designed for investigating the religious views of scientists (or anyone else)."[5]

Scott, who is an atheist, also declared: "The title of the recent Larson and Witham article in Nature, 'Leading scientists still reject God' is premature without reliable data upon which to base it."[6]

Poll: Over half of American scientists believe in some form of deity or higher power

See also: Scientists and belief in the existence of God and Atheism and science

According to a 2009 Pew Research poll of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power."[7]

Experimental evidence that the prayers of Bible believers are effective

Furthermore, there is experimental evidence supporting the proposition that the God of the Bible does answer prayers.[8] The Christian apologist Gary Habermas wrote: "Double-blind prayer experiments: where people pray for others with terminal illness. Habermas admitted that most such experiments have not worked, but the three that he knows of that have indeed worked were cases of orthodox-Christians praying for the sick."[9]

National Academy of Sciences and social science

The membership of the National Academy of Sciences includes scientists in the physical sciences and social scientists. For example, the psychologist Daniel Kahneman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.[10] The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has content that spans the biological, physical, and social sciences.[11]

In an article entitled How reliable are the social sciences?, Cary Cutting wrote in the New York Times:

While the physical sciences produce many detailed and precise predictions, the social sciences do not. The reason is that such predictions almost always require randomized controlled experiments, which are seldom possible when people are involved. For one thing, we are too complex: our behavior depends on an enormous number of tightly interconnected variables that are extraordinarily difficult to distinguish and study separately. Also, moral considerations forbid manipulating humans the way we do inanimate objects. As a result, most social science research falls far short of the natural sciences’ standard of controlled experiments.[12]

In 2014, the science journal Nature reported that over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test.[13]

Existence of God: A philosophical question. Not a scientific question

Strictly speaking, the existence of God is a philosophical question and not a scientific question since God is supernatural and thus outside of nature.

The majority of philosophers of religion are theists

The majority of philosophers of religion, or those who have extensively studied the issue of the existence of God, are theists (72 percent).[14]

Atheists, parents, the desire for eliteness and personal autonomy

The NAS website declares: "Election to NAS membership in the NAS is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive."[15]

Biet-Hallahmi, author of Atheism, A Psychological Profile, in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, wrote, “…what these individuals [the most elite] had, in addition to their creativity and high intelligence, was a strong wish to create distance between themselves and their parents.”

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism which was edited by the atheist philosopher Michael Martin declared:

Continuity and discontinuity in any identity may be a function of interpersonal networks, especially involving intimate relations. Apostasy and conversion can both be seen as a rejection of parental identity and parental beliefs. It “might well be symptomatic of familial strain and dissociation... apostasy is to be viewed as a form of rebellion against parents” (Caplovitz and Sherrow, 1977:50).[16]

In 2012, a Georgetown University study was published indicating that only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults.[17] See also: Atheism and its retention rate in individuals and Atheism and marriage

A troubled/non-existent relationship with a father is theorized to influence a person to become an atheist.[18] Dr. Paul Vitz wrote a book entitled Faith of the Fatherless in which he points out that after studying the lives of more than a dozen leading atheists he found that a large majority of them had a father who was present but weak, present but abusive, or absent.[19]

The book Atheist Persona: Causes and Consequences by John J. Pasquini, Th.D. indicates that many of the prominent atheists (and prominent practical atheists) who had dysfunctional/absent fathers that he lists in his book also had dysfunctional/absent mothers.[20] See also: Atheism and poor relationships with parents and Irreligion and domestic violence and Atheist marriages

The General Social Survey (GSS) data on atheism uses a broad definition of atheism which can include agnostics.[21]

The abstract for journal article An Assessment of the Role of Early Parental Loss in the Adoption of Atheism or Irreligion by Frank L. Pasquale indicates:

Early parental loss or trauma has been proposed by some as a significant factor in the adoption of atheist, non-theist, or irreligious worldviews. Relevant empirical data, however, have been limited, impressionistic, methodologically questionable, or limited to historically prominent figures. Survey data from the GSS and a study of affirmatively non-theistic and irreligious secular group affiliates in the U.S. do not provide evidence of disproportionately high rates of early parental loss among individuals who describe themselves as “atheist(ic)” or “anti-religious,” reject belief in God, or express strong anger about religion. Loss of a parent or other loved may play a role in turns toward, as well as away from, God and religion for some. There is also evidence of comparatively high rates of parental loss in the lives of historically prominent figures, both religious and non-religious. Present results, however, do not support the hypothesis that early loss is a disproportionately frequent experience in the lives of (“ordinary”) atheistic or irreligious people.[22]

NAS, elitism and atheist arrogance

Atheists are well known for their arrogance (see: Atheism and arrogance). Joining an elitist organization is naturally more appealing to arrogant individuals.

Most American professors at elite research institutions believe God exists

The abstract for the 2009 academic journal article The Religiosity of American College and University Professors which was published in the journal Sociology of Religion (which is published by the Oxford University Press) indicates:

For more than a century most U.S. colleges and universities have functioned as secular institutions. But how religious are American college and university faculty in their personal lives? We answer this question by analyzing data from a new, nationally representative survey of the American professoriate. Contrary to the view that religious skepticism predominates in the academy, we find that the majority of professors, even at elite research institutions, are religious believers. We go on to examine the distribution of faculty religiosity across institutions, fields, and other variables, and identify a number of issues that future research—sensitive to the fact that religious faith and academic life, at least in the American context, are by no means mutually exclusive—should take up.[23]

As noted above, the NAS website declares: "Election to NAS membership in the NAS is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive." While universities and colleges often publicize their achievements, most elite research universities and colleges do not make such self-serving and arrogant proclamations about working for their institutions or being associated with their institutions. They are less elitist.

Doctors believe in God more than social scientists. Medical science is often more reliable than social science

Few, if any, political scientists predicted early on that Donald Trump would be the leading Republican candidate in the 2016 GOP primary. 27 percent of American political scientists believe in the existence of God while 76 percent of American doctors said they believe in God.[24] Compared to medical science which has many effective medicines and surgical procedures, the social science of political science is often unreliable.

See also: Atheism and health

NBC News reported: "In the survey of 1,044 doctors nationwide, 76 percent said they believe in God, 59 percent said they believe in some sort of afterlife, and 55 percent said their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine."[25]

On the other hand, according to Livescience.com, 31 percent of social scientists believe in God. 27 percent of political scientists, who are social scientists, believe in the existence of God.[26]

Compared to medical science which has many effective medicines and surgical procedures, social science is often unreliable. For example, few economists (economics is a social science) in academia predicted the Great Depression or the 1987 financial crisis. Ludwig von Mises was snubbed by economists worldwide when he warned of a credit crisis in the 1920s.[27] Few, if any, political scientists predicted early on that Donald Trump would be the leading Republican candidate in the 2016 GOP primary.

The political scientist Emily Thorson wrote at the Politico website:

Late last semester, a student showed up during my office hours. She sat down across from me, looking worried. I assumed she wanted to discuss her upcoming paper, but she had something else in mind. “Professor,” she said. “How did Donald Trump happen?”

This is the question everyone seems to be asking these days. Trump’s rise has defied the predictions of pundits and pollsters, repeatedly embarrassing those who swore that he would flame out. I’m a political scientist, and I count myself among that number. In September, I offered my students a $500 bet that he wouldn’t become the Republican nominee — a wager I’m increasingly glad that none of them took me up on.[28]

Social science of psychology very frequently contains pseudoscience

See also: Psychology

Psychology is a social science.

Among American college professors, psychology professors have the highest percentage of atheists (50% of American college professors are atheists).[29]

As noted above, in 2014, the science journal Nature reported that over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test.[30]

In 2011, the New York Times declared:

Also common is a self-serving statistical sloppiness. In an analysis published this year, Dr. Wicherts and Marjan Bakker, also at the University of Amsterdam, searched a random sample of 281 psychology papers for statistical errors. They found that about half of the papers in high-end journals contained some statistical error.[31]

Theodore Beale reported:

This is why therapy is reliably doomed to failure:..

In addition to the 46 percent of psychologists who the NHS reports as being depressed, "out of 800 psychologists sampled, 29 per cent reported suicidal ideation and 4 per cent reported attempting suicide."...

Would you go to a plumber whose toilet is overflowing? Would you hire a computer programmer who didn't know how to use a computer? Then why would you ever talk to one of these nutjobs in order to fix whatever mental issues you might be having?...

There is very little scientific evidence of the benefits of psychology. I read one recent study which showed that neurotic individuals actually stabilize on their own at a higher rate than those who seek therapy. This is no surprise, as the foundations of psychology are literally fiction.[32]

The atheist psychologist Sigmund Freud promoted pseudoscience

Sigmund Freud in his laboratory

See also: Sigmund Freud's view of religion and Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide

Sigmund Freud and the atheistic and pseudoscientific Freudian psychoanalysis has had a cultish following.[33][34] See also: Atheist cults

Freud was a proponent of the notion that theism was detrimental to mental health.[35] Oxford Professor Alister McGrath, author of the book The Twilight of Atheism, stated the following regarding Freud:

One of the most important criticisms that Sigmund Freud directed against religion was that it encourages unhealthy and dysfunctional outlooks on life. Having dismissed religion as an illusion, Freud went on to argue that it is a negative factor in personal development. At times, Freud's influence has been such that the elimination of a person's religious beliefs has been seen as a precondition for mental health.

Freud is now a fallen idol, the fall having been all the heavier for its postponement. There is now growing awareness of the importance of spirituality in health care, both as a positive factor in relation to well-being and as an issue to which patients have a right. The "Spirituality and Healing in Medicine" conference sponsored by Harvard Medical School in 1998 brought reports that 86 percent of Americans as a whole, 99 percent of family physicians, and 94 percent of HMO professionals believe that prayer, meditation, and other spiritual and religious practices exercise a major positive role within the healing process.[35]

Atheists have a higher suicide rate than theists.[36] See: Atheism and suicide

The prestigious Mayo Clinic reported on December 11, 2001:

In an article also published in this issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed published studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and subject reviews that examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life and other health outcomes.

The authors report a majority of the nearly 350 studies of physical health and 850 studies of mental health that have used religious and spiritual variables have found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes.[37]

NAS and politics

Most atheists lean to the left politically (see: Atheism and politics). The secular left is far more preoccupied with the government sector and big government than conservatives who are more private sector and free enterprise oriented (see: Atheism and politics). Therefore, an organization like the NAS, which advises the federal government, would naturally be more appealing to secular leftists/liberals.

Membership into NAS is a political process

Becoming a member of the NAS is a political process through election. And as noted earlier, the NAS is more likely to attract individuals who skew to the left on the political spectrum. Political processes can be influenced by corruption/discrimination.

Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics.[38] Creationists have faced underhanded discrimination by evolutionists (see: Suppression of alternatives to evolution). In 2013, an study found that academia was less likely to hire religious conservatives due to discriminatory attitudes.[39]

As far as corruption within the current scientific community, there is a very significant problem with scientific fraud and other lack of integrity issues.[40]

Atheists, scientism, nature worship and neo-paganism

There is a significant segment of atheists who engage in the erroneous ideologies/worldviews of scientism, nature worship and neo-paganism.[41] So a certain degree of preoccupation/obsession with pseudoscience, naturalistic philosophy and scientific endeavors is not surprising within some members of the atheist community.

Scientism is self-refuting. William Lane Craig wrote: "Scientism tells us that we should not believe any proposition that cannot be scientifically proven. But what about that very proposition itself? It cannot itself be scientifically proven."[42]

Scientific revolution and Christianity

The scientific revolution was birthed in a Christianized Europe (see: Christianity and science). And devout Christians played a significant role in the scientific revolution.[43][44]

Logical fallacies committed: Category mistake and appeal to authority

During his debate with Dr. Gordon Stein, Greg Bahnsen pointed out that the atheist worldview cannot account for the laws of logic, but the Christian worldview can.[45][46]

See also: Atheism and logical fallacies and Atheism and logic

According to the Oxford Dictionaries website, a category mistake is "The error of assigning to something a quality or action that can properly be assigned to things only of another category, for example, treating abstract concepts as though they had a physical location."[47]

As noted above, strictly speaking, the existence of God is a philosophical question and not a scientific question since God is supernatural and thus outside of nature. Furthermore, as noted above, in terms of expert opinion, the majority of philosophers of religion, or those who have extensively studied the issue of the existence of God, are theists (72 percent).[48]

In addition, as noted above, there is experimental evidence supporting the proposition that the God of the Bible does answer prayers.[49]

Even if atheists were not committing a category mistake in relation to citing the religious beliefs of NAS scientists, it is an appeal to authority which is also logical fallacy.

See also

Notes

  1. About the NAS
  2. Are Top Scientists Overwhelmingly Atheists? by Randal Rauser
  3. NAS Scientists, God and Atheism
  4. [Leading scientists still reject God] by Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham, Nature, 1988
  5. Are Top Scientists Overwhelmingly Atheists? by Randal Rauser
  6. NAS Scientists, God and Atheism
  7. Scientists and Belief Scientists and belief
  8. Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism by Gary Habermas
  9. Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism by Gary Habermas
  10. Daniel Kahneman - NAS member directory listing
  11. Mainpage of NAS website
  12. How reliable are the social sciences? by Cary Cutting, New York Times
  13. Over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test, Bature
  14. Does it matter that many scientists are atheists?
  15. NAS website
  16. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, edited by Michael Martin, page 302, published in 2006
  17. http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-atheists-have-lowest-retention-rate-compared-to-religious-groups-78029/ Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  18. http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth12.html
  19. Atheist Persona: Causes and Consequences by John J. Pasquini, 2014, University Press of America, page 3
  20. How Many Americans are Atheists? Fewer than You Might Think by Bradley Wright, January 26, 2012
  21. An Assessment of the Role of Early Parental Loss in the Adoption of Atheism or Irreligion by Frank L. Pasquale1
  22. [http://socrel.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2009/01/01/socrel.srp026 The Religiosity of American College and University Professors, Sociology of Religion, Oxford University Press, 2009
  23. Most doctors believe in God, NBC News
  24. Scientists belief in God varies starkly by discipline, Livescience.com
  25. The man who predicted the depression, Wall Street Journal
  26. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/donald-trump-2016-political-science-213755 5 Political Myths Trump Is Exploding] by Emily Thorson, Politico
  27. Are American College Professors Religious?, Huffington Post
  28. Over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test, Bature
  29. Fraud Case Seen as a Red Flag for Psychology Research
  30. Psychologist, heal thyself
  31. The Freudian psychoanalysis cult by Kevin MacDonald, Ph.D.
  32. The pretensions of the Freudian cult by Thomas Szasz, The Spectator, 4 OCTOBER 1985, Page 32
  33. 35.0 35.1 McGrath, Alister (February 28, 2005). "The twilight of atheism". Christianity Today website. Retrieved on May 23, 2015.
  34. Adherents.com - suicide rates
  35. Mueller, Dr. Paul S. et al. (December 2001). "Religious involvement, spirituality, and medicine: implications for clinical practice". Mayo Clinic Proceedings vol. 76:12, pp. 1225-1235. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Proceedings website on July 20, 2014.
  36. Suspicions Confirmed: Academia Shutting Out Conservative Professors
  37. Atheism as nature worship or neo-paganism
  38. Is scientism self-refuting?
  39. Christianity and the birth of science
  40. 21 Great Scientists Who Believed the Bible
  41. Greg Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein: The Great Debate (FULL)
  42. "The Great Debate: Does God Exist?"
  43. Category mistake - Oxford dictionaries
  44. Does it matter that many scientists are atheists?
  45. Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism by Gary Habermas