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Indian scientists more religious than British peers: Survey

Press Trust of India

Last Updated: September 25, 2014, 15:50 IST

Indian scientists more religious than British peers: Survey

Indian scientists are significantly more religious than their British counterparts, says a survey.

London: Indian scientists are significantly more religious than their British counterparts, according to the first cross-national study of religion and spirituality among scientists.

The surveys and in-depth interviews with scientists showed that while 65 per cent of UK scientists identify as non-religious, only 6 per cent of Indian scientists identify as non-religious.

In addition, while only 12 per cent of scientists in the UK attend religious services on a regular basis, once a month or more 32 per cent of scientists in India do.

"India and the UK are at the same time deeply intertwined historically while deeply different religiously," Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice University's Autrey Professor of Sociology and the study's principal investigator, said.

"There is a vastly different character of religion among scientists in the UK than in India potentially overturning the view that scientists are universal carriers of secularisation," said Ecklund.

Despite the number of UK scientists identifying themselves as non-religious, 49 per cent of UK survey respondents acknowledged that there are basic truths in many religions.

In addition, 11 per cent of UK survey respondents said they do believe in God without any doubt, and another 8 per cent said they believe in a higher power of some kind.

Ecklund noted that although the UK is known for its secularism, scientists in particular are significantly more likely to identify as not belonging to a religion than members of the general population.

"According to available data, only 50 per cent of the general UK population responded that they did not belong to a religion, compared with 65 per cent of UK scientists in the survey," Ecklund said.

"In addition, 47 per cent of the UK population report never attending religious services compared with 68 per cent of scientists," said Ecklund.

According to the India survey, 73 per cent of scientists responded that there are basic truths in many religions, 27 per cent said they believe in God and 38 per cent expressed belief in a higher power of some kind.

However, while only 4 per cent of the general Indian population said they never attend religious services, 19 per cent of Indian scientists said they never attend.

"Despite the high level of religiosity evident among Indian scientists when it comes to religious affiliation, we can see here that when we look at religious practices, Indian scientists are significantly more likely than the Indian general population to never participate in a religious service or ritual, even at home," Ecklund said.

Although there appear to be striking differences in the religious views of UK and Indian scientists, less than half of both groups (38 per cent of UK scientists and 18 per cent of Indian scientists) perceived conflict between religion and science.
first published:September 25, 2014, 15:50 IST
last updated:September 25, 2014, 15:50 IST