Is there a personal God?
A Big Disconnect:  Leading Scientists vs Religion in America
1. What scientists believe

THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW  (USA public television) December 14, 2005

Discussion about Charles Darwin (excerpts). For much more on what these prominent scientists said on TV   see )

CHARLIE ROSE: Joining me now: professors E.O. Wilson and James Watson. They are simply two of the great scientific minds of our time. E.O. Wilson has taught at Harvard for more than four decades. He has written more than 20 books on biology and evolution. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes. In 1962, James Watson won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA. His co-recipients were Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins.

EDWARD O. WILSON: 1,000 years from now, there will be two landmarks in the origin of the - of biology, modern biology. One would be (Darwin's) "The Origin of Species," 1859. And the other one would be the 1953 paper showing the structure of DNA by - by Watson and Crick.

EDWARD O. WILSON:(In a) CNN poll of about three weeks ago, 51 percent of Americans say evolution never occurred; 34 percent said evolution occurred but God guided it. And 15 percent said, well, I guess science is right about it.

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me lay into the scientific and - and Biblical conflict here. Both of you as scientists believe deeply in the law of science and the fact of science, that there`s no way you can reconcile a divine creator and the implications of Darwin`s theory of evolution, yes? And Darwin understood that too because of what he said at the time that he wrote.

JAMES D. WATSON: That`s - yes. You`ve got to define religion. If it`s a personal god who interferes with our lives and listens to our prayers and aware of our existence, I really -- I can only mention one person that I know who believes that, who`s a serious scientist. Francis Collins. 

 60% of American adults believe that God is a person with whom people can have a relationship (survey results below)
2. What Americans believe
These are some of the key findings of the Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which draws primarily on a new nationwide survey conducted from May 8 to Aug. 13, 2007, among a representative sample of more than 35,000 adults in the U.S., with additional over-samples of Eastern Orthodox Christians, Buddhists and Hindus.
"While more than nine-in-ten Americans (92%) believe in the existence of God or a universal spirit, there is considerable variation in the nature and certainty of this belief. Six-in-ten adults believe that God is a person with whom people can have a relationship; but one-in-four – including about half of Jews and Hindus – see God as an impersonal force. And while roughly seven-in-ten Americans say they are absolutely certain of God’s existence, more than one-in-five (22%) are less certain in their belief." (For the Pew survey chart on God beliefs by religion in USA, click on )

Sloan's comments:  This split between science and religion in America is huge. The survey indicates that fewer Buddhists and Hindus in the USA believe in a personal God. This may mean that worldwide there is less of a split between scientists and what ordinary people think. But in any case, the split is troubling for what it means for education (as on the matter of Evolution) and other government policy issues. In the Middle Ages, when scientists like Galileo had beliefs strongly different from those of organized religion, there was confusion in the populace and science suffered.  Hopefully similar repercussions will not happen in 21st century.