It is often assumed that atheists have no interest whatsoever in participating in any religious practice, but a recent study conducted by Rice University in partnership with the University at Buffalo-SUNY indicates the opposite is true. According to the study, 17% of atheist scientists with kids and 10% of atheist scientists without kids attend some type of religious function more than once in a year.
In a survey done of 2,198 atheists involved in the sciences at 21 research universities, half identified themselves as having ties to a religion while half said they had no religious affiliation. Of those surveyed, 275 were interviewed and those 275 interviews brought about the interesting findings.
There were three basic reasons why the atheist scientists attend religious functions:
- Their spouses participate in religious services.
- They want their children to be exposed to all kinds of knowledge so they can decide for themselves what they want to accept.
- They like the moral influence and positive behavior that religious communities tend to exhibit.
Those conducting the study came to the conclusion that this shows religion still has an important role to play in American society. Several questions came to my mind when I read about this research. First, were the atheists really genuine when they gave these reasons for attending religious services? Second, could this maybe, possibly be a case where atheists are on a covert mission to sway people in the church their way? Third, does this show that there are atheists who deep down inside envy Christians? Fourth, were the answers given so these atheists could just cast themselves in a positive light as being not really bad people?
Sources: David Ruth. Some atheist scientists with children embrace religious traditions, according to new Rice research. Eurekalert.org. December 1, 2011.
posted by Harry A. Gaylord