More than 20 percent of atheist scientists consider themselves to be spiritual, according to a study by Rice University, Houston.
The study's lead author said it shows that spirituality is not solely a pursuit of religious people. "Spirituality pervades both the religious and atheist thought.
It's not an either/or," said Elaine Howard Ecklund, assistant professor of sociology.
"This challenges the idea that scientists, and other groups we typically deem as secular, are devoid of those big 'Why am I here?' questions. They, too, have these basic human questions and a desire to find meaning."
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