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Darwin hasn't destroyed faith of scientists

Posted on Sat, Dec. 05, 2009

By David Masci

Los Angeles Times

A century and a half after Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," the overwhelming majority of scientists in the United States accept Darwinian evolution as the basis for understanding how life on Earth developed. But although evolutionary theory is often portrayed as antithetical to religion, it has not destroyed the religious faith of the scientific community.

According to a survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center in May and June this year, a majority of scientists (51 percent) say they believe in God or a higher power, while 41 percent say they do not.

Furthermore, scientists today are no less likely to believe in God than they were almost 100 years ago, when the scientific community was first polled on this issue. In 1914, 11 years before the Scopes "monkey" trial and four decades before the discovery of the structure of DNA, psychologist James Leuba asked 1,000 U.S. scientists about their views on God. He found the scientific community evenly divided, with 42 percent saying that they believed in a personal God and the same number saying they did not. Scientists have unearthed many important fossils since then, but they are, if anything, more likely to believe in God today.

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