Atheists Who Go to Church: Doing It for the Children
2011-12-08 0:00

By Lee Dye | ABCNews.com


He probably wont get down on his knees, but that fellow sitting near you during the Sunday church service just might be an atheist. And a scientist.
A new study out of Rice University has found that 17 percent about one out of five scientists who describe themselves as either atheists or agnostics actually go to church, although not too often, and not because they feel a spiritual yearning to join the faithful.

More likely, its because of the kids.

What? Why would somebody who doesnt believe theres a god want his own offspring wasting their time in an enterprise he believes has no foundation in fact? Especially a scientist.

The study, by sociologists Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice and Kristen Schultz Lee of the University at Buffalo, found that many atheists want their children exposed to religion so that they can make up their own minds on what to believe. In addition, church may provide a better understanding of morality and ethics, and occasionally attending services may ease the conflict between spouses who disagree over the value of religion to their children, the study contends.

The research, published in the December issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, was based on in-depth interviews with 275 scientists at 21 elite research universities in the United States. Sixty-one percent of the participants described themselves as either atheists or agnostics, and 17 percent of the non-believers had attended church more than once in the past year.

In general, their church affiliation followed a similar pattern most were raised in a family that was not deeply involved in religion, and they did not attend church during early adulthood but established a relationship with a church when they had children of their own. After the children had grown, they attended church less and less, if at all.

But why would someone who believes there is no god want his children exposed to doctrines that he clearly believes to be false?

Some actually see it as part of their scientific identity, Ecklund said in a telephone interview. They want to teach their children to be free thinkers, to give them religious choices, and so they take their children to religious organizations just to give them exposure to religion.

Let the kids make up their own minds, many of the participants told Ecklund.

Still, it may seem a bit odd for some atheists to perceive church as a desired community at a time when many leading atheists are calling on their colleagues to come out of the closet and take a public stand against religion. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, physicist Victor Stenger and others see religion as a source of evil in the world.

They contend that science has moved beyond a belief in the supernatural, partly because science has answered some questions that were previously left up to clerics. Evolution, for example, provides a naturalist explanation for how we got here.

True believers, by contrast, regard atheists as among the least trusted people on the planet, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia. These scientists emphasized last month that the right word is distrust, not dislike.

But however you put it, atheists do have a bit of an image problem. If they feel uncomfortable attending church, thats nothing compared to entering some aspects of public service. They usually find themselves on the outside looking in.

Columnist Michael Kinsley confessed to being a nonbeliever in the Los Angeles Times last month. In an op-ed piece he conceded, That puts me in the only religious grouping in America whose members are effectively barred from any hope of becoming president, due to widespread public prejudice against them. There will be a Mormon president, a Jewish president, an openly gay president before there will be a president who says publicly that he doesnt believe in God.

He contrasted that with the current run for the White House in which four of this years Republican candidates were personally recruited by God to run for president. That number has since dropped to three.


[...]

Read the full article at: abcnews.go.com
Image: Source: Getty Images/Fuse







The Scientific Method applied to Religion. Image: Source







Related Articles
Belief in Da Vinci Code and other "wacky, false" Conspiracies (like 9/11) is "coping mechanism"
Federal Prisoners With "Unpopular Political Beliefs" Isolated, Abused
Is Atheism a Belief?
People watch news that doesnt contradict belief systems
The effect of belief on intelligence


Latest News from our Front Page

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female
2015-04-25 4:52
Shieldmaidens are not a myth! A recent archaeological discovery has shattered the stereotype of exclusively male Viking warriors sailing out to war while their long-suffering wives wait at home with baby Vikings. (We knew it! We always knew it.) Plus, some other findings are challenging that whole “rape and pillage” thing, too. Researchers at the University of Western Australia decided ...
Off Your Knees, Germany! Ernst Zundel 1983 - 2003
2015-04-25 1:15
For more information on the holocaust, how the war was forced upon Germany, and the REAL victims of the second world war see: http://gblt.webs.com/Real_Holocaust.htm http://web.archive.org/web/20130806074314/http://www.666blacksun.org/ http://www.zundelsite.org/
IRS Drops Attack For Six Years – No Evidence of Jurisdiction
2015-04-24 20:29
A big congrats to a friend I’ve been working with for several years, he stood up to the predators commonly called the “IRS” and they dropped their attack. Thanks also for providing me with the proof below. The criminals called the “IRS” initiated an attack claiming my friend was required to file six tax returns, or explain how he made ...
Into Eternity - Finland's 100,000 Year Massive Underground Spent Nuclear Fuel Program
2015-04-24 20:49
Into Eternity is a documentary about a deep geological repository for nuclear waste. The concept of long-term underground storage for radioactive waste has been explored since the 1950s. The inner part of the Russian doll-like storage canisters is to be composed of copper. Hence in the case of Onkalo it is tightly linked to experiments on copper corrosion in running ...
SPLC Accuses Oath Keepers of Inciting “Armed Confrontation” Over Sugar Pine Mine
2015-04-24 20:22
The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Oath Keepers of inciting an armed confrontation with BLM authorities over the Sugar Pine Mine dispute in Oregon, despite the fact that the organization has explicitly stated that it is not promoting armed confrontation with the feds. In an article provocatively posted on the organization’s ‘Hatewatch’ section entitled Oath Keepers Descend Upon Oregon with ...
More News »