Acknowledging God in Scientific Papers

Rarely do I pay much attention to the Acknowledgements section in scientific publications, but the first line in one particular paper caught my eye:

“First of all, I am grateful to Almighty God, the author of knowledge and wisdom, for His countless love and grace that have enabled me to complete this thesis.”

If only we could all be so bold! Is this a rare occurrence or have others declared such statements? Scientific papers are by their nature rather dry, but this can sure add an element of personality. Would the scientific community find this advisable? I admire the author for acknowledging the source of his intelligence and giving all glory to God while he is still a novice scientist.

The full paper about measuring pork yield (:upside_down_face:) can be found here:
https://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/handle/10214/26496

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Im perfectly fine with Christians being open about their faith. If they are publishing something, and want to add this or that to it, I’m ok with it. I’m also perfectly fine if they don’t. I’m not going to read the journal article because I don’t care about it. But as long as the science is correct, and the overwhelming bulk of the article is focused on the science, I would not mind them saying whatever their faith is and ect…I think the more that people like real scientists are open about their faith, the less power the IDers will have to convince people that anyone about has faith is weird and anti science.

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Some of the scientists are extremely allergic to anything that has to do with Christian faith or creation in scientific papers, especially scientists that have lived in US.

A sad example of this was the overreaction to an article in PLoS some years ago. If I remember correctly, Chinese scientists had in a natural science paper an expression including God and creation. The questions, results and interpretation of the results had nothing to do with theology or faith so technically, the expression should have been removed in the editorial process. The authors later said that the expression was an error that happened (at least partly) because English was a foreign language for them and therefore they did not know how to express things correctly in English.

As is usual in scientific articles, reviewers and editors do not always note all minor weaknessses or demand that these must be removed. All who have been editors, published many papers or read many scientific articles know this. Having an unnecessary expression in a published article is a normal mistake and should not have caused a strong reaction. In this case, mentioning God was a red flag for some and caused a storm of very critical comments and threats. The editors of the journal panicked, apologized and withdrew the otherwise sound paper totally from the journal and digital archives.

That is not what the Acknowledgements section in scientific publications is for. It is for acknowledging help above the call of duty in the research and its publication.

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I remember that incident. It was dubbed “#Creatorgate” and it was a clear-cut case of the opposition to the paper being entirely religious (or, anti-religious) in nature while having nothing whatsoever to do with the actual scientific merits of the paper. If scientists ever need an explanation of why some Christians get so hostile to science, and why so many wild and wacky conspiracy theories proliferate in so many churches, that is precisely why. It is precisely that kind of attitude that propagates the perception of many that science and religion are at war, and in a time when both sides need to be supporting each other in addressing the same issues, such as climate change, public health, and the integrity of democratic elections, such a war is only going to make things worse rather than better.

One thing that particularly shocked me was that some of the people attempting to justify such sentiments were Christians. My initial reaction when I see Christians siding with overreactions such as this is to ask, “Hey, are you really a Christian at all? If so, why are you siding with attitudes that are, as far as I can see, opposition to Christianity?”

Scientific papers should be judged on their scientific merits. In other words, objections to religious sentiment should only be made if they result in corners being cut, data being fudged, conclusions being overstated, any kind of misrepresentation or dishonesty, and the like, or if the expressions of religious sentiment are expressed discourteously or aggressively. If the conclusions of the paper are sound, the data fairly represented, and the religious sentiments expressed courteously and unobtrusively, then they should be left alone.

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Overall, I agree with you, but there are some caveats.

It’s always nice if people could be reasonable and kind when dealing with these kinds of things, but the reality is this simply does not happen even amongst scientists. I can also understand people who don’t want scientific articles becoming a tool for evangelization. Especially since the reality is that a lot of people see religious people as hostile to science, be it true or not.

There is also an issue with how you use them. A few years ago, I spoke to someone in France, an atheist, who had generously driven someone from Eastern Europe, I think it was Poland, but it’s not important other than they are of different culture. At the end of a fairly long drive, the Eastern European thanked god but not really the driver, or at least he didn’t feel thanked, and he was certainly offended, and I can understand him. Going above a beyond to help someone, and they then thank someone or something that he doesn’t care about, doesn’t feel like you are being thanked or recognized.

Over all whilst I agree it is an unhelpful over reaction, I am partisan on this kind of thing of not raising unnecessary barriers.

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This looks like it’s from a dissertation which you can write whatever you want in that section, nobody checks or reviews it. I wrote something about God in mine. It’s quite different than acknowledgements in an actual scientific publication despite superficially sharing similar wording. I also thanked my family at the beginning of my dissertation but it would be silly to acknowledge their contribution to a specific scientific paper, unless they really did provide specific academic feedback and advice.

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You appear to be confused. There is no place for religious sentiment in a scientific paper at all. Any inclusion of religious sentiment is unscientific. Acknowledging support above and beyond the call of duty in the research and its publication is appropriate. Nothing LESS.

In Nordic countries, at least in Finland and especially Sweden, many start reading the dissertations from the Acknowledgements section. In the Swedish theses I have seen, there seemed to be some type of unofficial competition of who can write the funniest Acknowledgements or at least mention something half-funny about how their buddies did or did not help during the process. In some theses, acknowledgements was written in the form of an extra article in the thesis. So yes, the acknowledgements of dissertation thesis is different from what the scientific journals want. I suspect that if someone would write strongly about God in any part of a manuscript intended as an article published in a natural science journal, the reaction of many reviewers and editors would be negative - possibly even an unofficial reason for rejection, even if those participating in the editorial process would not confess it.

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you may always thank your church for the grant they may have given you for your studies or their support in checking your work - as in thanking Dr ABC, Vicar of XY church for their help with the revision of your paper, after all, she has a PhD in biology :slight_smile:

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Of course . . .

Did someone say “bacon?”

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I’ll bite. How does bacon factor in here? Please say more if there is more.

The paper is on pork yield that’s being referenced. Not sure what it is since I don’t eat it and so I just went with what was shared in the op lol.

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Yes, a reference to God is not uncommon here, and I do not know of any reports of that being problematic. The acknowledgements section for a thesis is more personable than peer reviewed journal and conference papers. Mom and dad can get their mention for mortgaging the house. An acquaintance of mine thanked God on a math thesis.

The full paper about measuring pork yield (:upside_down_face:) can be found here:

BUT there is no more… I ate it! :wink:

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I didn’t realize the uniqueness of dissertations (because I read so few), so thank you for raising these points.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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