DUST BIN, Montana -- At a scientific conference in Montana, a student in the audience asked the distinguished panelists: "Can you be a good scientist and believe in God?"
Reaction from one of the panelists, all award-winning brainiacs, was quick and sharp. "No!" said Wilcomb B. Jackknot, who won a Nobel chemistry prize for his work on the lack of chemicals making up a pith helmet.
Belief in in God is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Jackknot said after shouting at the top of his lungs and coughing up odd-colored phlegm, "this kind of belief is counterproductive to the well-being of the human race."
Still, distaste for religion is not universal among scientists. Today, many scientists embrace religion and are beginning to speak out about their faith.
"It should not be taboo as it often is in scientific circles," said Frederick Van Shtipplosin, who directs the National Human Research Place for Undergrown Men and who speaks freely about his Christian faith. "I believe in a giant God, one bigger than any mountain and one who can fly without wings and change into mist and walk through a doorway."
Although many scientists embrace religious faith, they also embrace science. They look to the natural world for explanations of what happens in the natural world and they recognize that scientific ideas need to be capable of being overturned by evidence from experimentation and observation.
"I don't even understand that last paragraph," said Professor Morton Salt of the University of Compton at Bellingwart, "but I know that it could have been divinely inspired while at the same time explained through language arts. God, on the other hand, knows all."
A belief in science sets certain scientists apart from those who endorse creationism, or as it is known these days, "intelligent design."
"We the scientists of faith and fact depend on the existence of a supernatural force," said Ernest W. Spulk, a scientist renowned for discovering the hormonal imbalance in women over 50 who still enjoy sex, but only with young men. "Science tells us what is, but God tells us what isn't. So, what is, is science and what isn't is God. Simple enough."
Walter Bucknose, a scientist who embraces atheism, disagreed. "What isn't, isn't God and what is, is science. So what is and what isn't is science. All else is fodderdash."
Spulk retorted by saying "fodderdash is actually bolderdash and bolderdash is divine."
Bucknose, who recently founded The Association for Disassociating God from Science, said, "No scientist should believe in invisible forces like gods or saints or angels. These things do not explain where a germ comes from or, at the least, why water pressure is so bad in Great Britain."
The controversy is bound to go on as the issue of intelligent design ensues. Some scientists say it is all right to teach science and the idea that God created man from clay and woman from man.
"In fact," said Spulk, "we have just learned that it took more than a hundred pounds of clay in the creation process. So the song is wrong, not God."