Indian scientists more religious than British peers:Study

prayer roomIndian scientists are more religious than their British counterparts but they are more likely, than the general population, to not participate in a religious service or rituals, says a cross-national study of religion and spirituality among scientists.

The surveys and in-depth interviews with scientists revealed that while 65 percent of British scientists identify as non-religious, only six percent of Indian scientists identify as non-religious.

In addition, while 32 percent of scientists in India attend religious services on a regular basis – once a month or more – only 12 percent of scientists in Britain do so.

The British survey included 1,581 scientists while the India survey included 1,763 scientists.

Explaining why the data focused only on Indian and British scientists, Elaine Howard Ecklund, a Herbert S. Autrey professor of sociology from Rice University said: “India and Britain are deeply intertwined historically while deeply different religiously. There is a vastly different character of religion among scientists in Britain than in India – potentially overturning the view that scientists are universal carriers of secularisation”.

According to the India survey, 73 percent of scientists responded that there are basic truths in many religions, 27 percent said they believe in God and 38 percent expressed belief in a higher power of some kind.

“For some Indian scientists, religious beliefs actually lead to a deeper sense of doing justice through their work as scientists,” Ecklund noted.

However, while only four percent of the general Indian population said they never attend religious services, 19 percent of Indian scientists said they never attend.

“Although there appear to be striking differences in the religious views of British and Indian scientists, less than half of both groups (38 percent of British scientists and 18 percent of Indian scientists) perceived conflict between religion and science,” Ecklund pointed out.

The Religion Among Scientists in International Context (RASIC) study was presented at the Policies and Perspectives: Implications From the Religion Among Scientists in International Context Study conference held in London.