Monism, Atheism and the Naturalist World-view: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology
Evolutionary biology has deep significance for religion, yet no statistical study of evolutionary biologists' beliefs has ever been published. James Leuba conducted the pioneer study on leading scientists' belief in god and immortality in 1921. Edward Larson and Larry Witham repeated Leuba's questionnaire study with scientists from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1998. These studies reveal progressively declining belief in god and immortality among American scientists through the 20th century. Their reports had two major shortcomings: (1) they ignore deism, a religious belief held by a minority of scientists; (2) they offer no statistics on evolutionary biologists' beliefs. We are left with no adequate means of determining, from the literature of the 20th century, the degree of compatibilism among evolutionary biologists with respect to evolution and religion. My project uses questionnaire and interview data from a worldwide sample of evolutionary biologists who are members of national academies of science, to illustrate their opinions on the intersection of evolutionary and religious matters.
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