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Jun 15, 2008 at 04:44pm IST

Indian scientists mix faith & reason, say God exists

New Delhi: One in four Indian scientists believe in God and many more accept existence of a "higher power", says a survey conducted across the country.

A survey of 1,100 scientists across 130 universities and research institutes across the country threw up interesting results as 29 per cent believed in the philosophy of 'karma', 26 per cent accepted the principle of life after death and seven per cent researchers gave credence to existence of ghosts.

A survey, by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut and Hyderabad-based Centre for Inquiry, found that religion and faith had deep roots in the minds of Indian scientists.

SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT: Most scientists at India's leading institutes believe in God.

As many as 64 per cent scientists said they would refuse to design biological weapons because of their moral and religious beliefs, while 54 per cent said they will not work on nuclear weapons for the same reasons.

As many as 93 per cent researchers defined secularism as tolerance for various religions and philosophies, while only a minority of scientists said it meant atheism.

As many as 33 per cent scientists strongly disapproved of space scientists seeking the blessings of Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati before launching a rocket in 2005. Only 14 per cent strongly approved of the action.

Most scientists (44 per cent) were willing to criticise and confront religions where they think they contradict accepted scientific theories but a sizeable minority (23 per cent) is opposed to it.

The scientists are most likely to regard their personal outlook as "secular" (59 per cent) or "somewhat secular" (16 per cent). Secularism, according to a majority of them, is tolerance for various religions and philosophies.

One fourth of the total scientists surveyed were firm believers while another fourth took an atheist or agnostic position about belief in the divine.

Twenty-six per cent scientists said they believed God exists and they had no doubts about it. As many as 30 per cent scientists did not believe in a personal God but in a higher power.

Twelve per cent scientists said they did not believe in God while another 13 per cent said they neither knew about the existence of God nor did they believed there was any way to find it out.

A majority of scientists thought of themselves as being spiritual, which according to two thirds of them is either "commitment to higher human ideals, such as peace, harmony or well being" (34 per cent), or "a higher level of human consciousness or awareness" (31 per cent).

A majority of the Indian scientists were Hindus (66 per cent) and 10 per cent identified themselves as atheists or having no religion.

Muslims and Christians formed three per cent each of the scientists surveyed; four per cent were Sikhs, Buddhists and other religions while 14 per cent did not report their religion.

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