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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Religion and Education

Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom

I recall reading that proverb when I was "gifted" the book of proverbs for a birthday sometime in my early teens. Of everything I read, that one verse stood out in my mind because of all I had witnessed up to that point and since then, was a lot of people with much fear of God but lacking seriously in the wisdom department. It's not to say these were stupid people, but as my knowledge grew and I became more inquisitive, the constant, "because of faith" answers became bothersome. It seemed to be a nice way out for trying to find out why a thing was as it was. There appeared to be this whole conspiracy to not give answers to questions that may contradict "biblical wisdom".

This especially held true for the specific evil ideology commonly referred to as "Evil-ution". Early on I was pretty ill equipped to even hold a conversation on evolution, and to be honest most of the people in the congregation were not equipped to have the conversation either. My interest in African history lead me to study human evolution and the origins of humanity which pretty much blew the whole lid off the Genesis account. Further study of the ancient Khemetic religion, further eroded the authority of the Bible. Education had irrevocably changed my understanding of God, what I then referred to as the "creative force of the universe", religion and religious institutions.

Fast forward and I would find myself posting on religion on this blog and making the comment that there was a correlation between education and certain religious expression. I caught some offline flack for that statement, but I stuck to my guns because in each case, I could demonstrate that there was a correlation between what a person didn't know and the specific belief they were espousing. Worse though, I found a rather strong desire for willfull ignorance. Not only did many of the individuals I was talking with, not know certain things they sincerely did not want to know any different.

Anyway, Gallup has done a poll which "staticises" (I made up a word there) what I have been discussing.

Belief in a literal Bible is strongly correlated with indicators of religion, including church attendance and identification with a Protestant or other non-Catholic Christian faith. There is also a strong relationship between education and belief in a literal Bible, with such belief becoming much less prevalent among those who have college educations.

I have no doubt that such a thing is why we have these "Bible colleges" springing up around the US. College is not somewhere you go to become enlightened, it's somewhere where you get your ideas re-affirmed while being trained to be a good employee.

The relevant chart can be seen here:

Personally I'm pretty interested in the fact that of the people interviewed over 50% of people with post graduate degrees would say that the Bible is in fact the inspired word of God. But then again, post graduate covers a lot of fields that have little to do with information that would blow that idea out the water. But there is no doubt that as education increases, fundamentalism drops precipitously. It goes to show that a good secular education based on the "scientific" method is extremely useful in combating religious extremism.

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Abdul-Halim V. said...

what also seems interesting is that as education goes up, so does the belif that the bible is "inspired by word of god". SO there are some other complicated things going on here. I wonder if anyone would be willing to do a longitudinal study which might shed a little more light on the issue...Are the fundamentalists staying fundamentalists but not going as far in their schooling? Are people changing their beliefs as their education increases? Are there intermediate issues which play a role as well (like class for instance).?

sondjata said...

I think that is interesting as well. My take on it is that people have an easier time moving from fundamentalist positions to one that is more "moderate" than to go to the "extreme" position that it's all made up.

Another question would be how many people went from the "moderate" position to the "It's all made up" position. There is a clear 75% drop in "fundamentalist" ideology as Education increases. The increase in the "moderate" position does not account for the drop in "fundamentalist" views.