Scientists and Atheism

I recently watched a video on youtube on BBC. So there was a guy named Laurence krauss. He is an atheist physicist . At some point he stated that “If sience and Christianity were compatible why are the best scientists atheists”. Now this really shocked me. I mean is this true? And if it is does someone have an explanation on why? I have to say that my faith as im a new convert(i converted about 2 years ago)is very shakeable with that kind of stuff. God bless.

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Hey, Nick! I can empathize with you about hearing disturbing things that shake us up. We all like to think of our own team as the “winning” one - i.e. we want our tribe to have more recognized smart people in it than any other tribes have. I think it important to realize that to the extent we base our “faith” on this is to the extent that we have not yet grown into our identity in Christ. Don’t get me wrong here - I’m not questioning your conversion or your status as one loved of Christ. I’m only reminding you that your own journey here will be an ongoing one as it is for all of us. Smart people like Krauss make lots of noise, but it is little more than that when it comes to matters of faith. I’ve not read any of Krauss’ books (at least not within recent memory) but I’ve listened online to what he has to say, and he makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t have anything new to add to the anti-religious screeds of more militant new atheists ever since Hume. Krauss may be a smart physicist. I can’t evaluate there - and am in no position to be able to; but when he turns to religion, it’s pretty clear he has a limited scope and only recognizes a certain narrow view on which he can spend all his powder and shot, shooting it down. I haven’t listened to him recently, and so wouldn’t know if he’s changed at all. But be assured that if he’s stayed “on message”, he’s done little more than provide a valuable service for religion by helping to cull away things that needed to be lost. If he wants to pretend that all of religion is culled away in these sorts of reckonings, then that’s his delusion to own. Take comfort in the fact that, at least on that front, he isn’t as smart as he could have been after all!

Meanwhile, also take comfort that there are also lots of smart people all up and down history and into the present that share with you in the joy of knowing Christ, and also share in the passions of pursuing and exploring truth even if they don’t see their way through into any organized religion. Many of both sorts interact right here! You’re in a good place to process this stuff.

Christians have not done well at promoting science as a vocation to their young people. (BioLogos is trying hard to change that, by the way.)

Krauss would only have a valid point about the incompatibility of science and Christianity if there were no brilliant scientists who are Christian. But that’s not true.

That atheists make up a high proportion of the “best scientists” reflects the statistics that as a group research scientists have a higher percentage of atheists than the rest of the population. Why is that? Certainly a more socially and culturally complex reason than “Christianity and science are incompatible.”


I agree with what Christy said ^ up there. I’ll just add to it that by any measure Francis Collins is right up there, scientifically, with anyone at a worldwide level. And he’s a nice guy to boot.

I don’t like Krauss at all and I don’t think Christianity is falsified by the fact that smart people are less likely to believe. (It’s falsified in other ways.) But it is likely that Krauss is referring to some interesting data on religious belief among scientists that was first reported more than a century ago and updated about 20 years ago. Some of the take-home messages:

  1. Religious belief is markedly lower among scientists, taken as a single group, than it is among the general population.
  2. Religious belief is much less common among elite scientists, as defined by those elected to the National Academy. (A separate study in the UK found similar differences there, by looking at members of the Royal Society.)
  3. Among elite scientists, there are differences based on field of study; interestingly, biologists (broadly speaking) are less likely to believe in supernatural stuff than are physical scientists.

A nice overview, up to date as of 2009, below.

Relevance? If we could also show that a higher percentage were misogynists and neglect their children, would that somehow prove that misogyny and child neglect are good things? Good grief! Frankly this rhetoric is just a sign of the rapidly decreasing rationality in the new atheists which just goes hand in hand with their increasing numbers.

I dont think its falsified in other ways. Ive read a lot of answers both to these site and various ones and they were pretty good arguments.

Speaking as an atheist . . .

I don’t support what Krauss is alleged to have said. The sciences are full of christians, and the two are entirely compatible. Krauss should be reminded that one of the earliest champions of the Big Bang theory was a George Lemaitre, a Jesuit priest and well respected astrophysicist.

At the same time, how many potentially great scientists have been scared away from the sciences due to their YEC upbringing? The problem is human traditions that have been forced upon christian theology, such as creationism and anti-intellectualism.