Atheist scientists may have no faith in the almighty, but that hasn't stopped some of them from trying to enjoy the fringe benefits the faithful receive.
In a new survey that examines the activities of college faculty in the natural and social sciences, 17 percent of non-believers who have children said that they attended religious services more than one time in the past year.
But it doesn't end there. These atheist scientists also want their kids to know more about the world's many religions so that they will be able to make informed decisions about their personal beliefs. This is particularly striking, considering that many non-believers try to shield their children from believing in faith and religion.
Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University, the researcher behind the new study, says that scientists, who have a natural liking for exploring all potential options, may actually want to give their children a fair-minded opportunity to explore their personal views on faith.
One of the survey participants says he was raised in a Catholic home. While he later decided that science and religion aren't compatible, he has decided to expose his daughter to various religious traditions. "I … don't indoctrinate her that she should believe in God," he explained. "I don't indoctrinate her into not believing in God."
"Our research shows just how tightly linked religion and family are in U.S. society -- so much so that even some of society's least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives," Ecklund explains. "We thought that these individuals might be less inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions, but we found the exact opposite to be true," she continued.
Live Science adds:
The atheist parents surveyed had multiple reasons for attending religious services in the absence of religious belief. Some said their spouse or partner was religious, and encouraged them to go to services as well. Others said they enjoyed the community that attending a church, mosque, temple or other religious institution can bring.
The survey data was collected via interviews with 275 participants (part of a wider 2,198-person survey of faculty at 21 U.S. research universities).