Question of the week: Why is atheism so popular in science today?
My answer: Only a small percentage of research scientists identify themselves as atheists. Of those that do, the majority—when pressed to define what they mean by atheism—turn out to be deists or agnostics. In my book, More Than a Theory, I cite large surveys about the theological beliefs of research scientists that were conducted in 1916 and 1996. Both showed that about 40% believe in God and an afterlife. Evidently, advancing scientific discoveries and scientific understanding has brought about no change in the theological beliefs of scientists. However, one reason why laypeople think atheism is so popular among scientists is that the very few scientists who are true atheists tend to be very vocal and get a lot of media attention. For this reason, we at Reasons to Believe are doing what we can to equip and train scientists who are Christians to be more public about their faith and more active in bringing their scientist peers to faith in Christ.
There is one significant correlation that applies not only to scientists but the general population. The percentage of the population that identifies themselves as atheists, agnostics, or nones (no religious affiliation) has been rising in direct proportion to the increasing percentage of the population that lives in large, highly urbanized cities. People who live in large, urbanized cities are much more cut off from wild birds and mammals than the rest of the population. As the book of Job explains, God designed birds and mammals to teach us humans several crucial spiritual lessons. People who are not adequately exposed to these animals will not experience these lessons. The lesson for us who are Christians is to reach out to our urbanized friends and associates and take them to wilderness areas where God’s book of nature can speak to them more directly and clearly.