Religion and education

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According to Pew Research: "At present, Jewish adults (ages 25 and older) have a global average of 13 years of formal schooling, compared with approximately nine years among Christians, eight years among Buddhists and six years among Muslims and Hindus. Religiously unaffiliated adults – those who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – have spent an average of nine years in school, a little less than Christian adults worldwide."[1]

In the United States, religion is positively correlated to education; a scholarly study published in an academic journal titled the Review of Religious Research demonstrated that increased education is correlated with belief in God and that "education positively affects religious participation, devotional activities, and emphasizing the importance of religion in daily life."[2][3][4][5]

One of the reasons education is positively correlated with belief in God in the United States is that the demographics of people attending higher education has shifted due to more women and southerners attending higher education (these two groups are more likely to be theists. See: Atheism and women).[6]

Although atheistic indoctrination in school systems can have an effect on individuals (See: Atheist indoctrination), research indicates that social/economic insecurity often has a more significant impact.[7]

Religious education

The Bible teaches, "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6 NASB).

See also: Religiosity and the growing use of vouchers and homeschooling

Parental guidance and religious/non-religious instruction have a very large effect on a person adopting and retaining a particular religion/worldview.[8][9][10]

A 1995-6 study commissioned by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary found that 71% of Christians in the United States converted before the age of 14.[9][11]

The religious/political/demography scholar Eric Kaufmann pointed out that the majority of people adopt their religious faith due to parental guidance and that the fertility rate of religious conservatives combined with the sub-replacement of fertility of the atheists/agnostics/nonreligious will cause the desecularization of the Western World in the 21st century (see also: Decline of global atheism and Desecularization of secular Europe).[12][13]

For more information, please see:

Religion and atheism in academia

See also: Atheism and academia and Christian apologetics and education and Atheism and academia

The abstract for the 2009 academic journal article The Religiosity of American College and University Professors which was published in the journal Sociology of Religion (which is published by the Oxford University Press) indicates:

For more than a century most U.S. colleges and universities have functioned as secular institutions. But how religious are American college and university faculty in their personal lives? We answer this question by analyzing data from a new, nationally representative survey of the American professoriate. Contrary to the view that religious skepticism predominates in the academy, we find that the majority of professors, even at elite research institutions, are religious believers. We go on to examine the distribution of faculty religiosity across institutions, fields, and other variables, and identify a number of issues that future research—sensitive to the fact that religious faith and academic life, at least in the American context, are by no means mutually exclusive—should take up.[14]

Harvard Magazine indicated in 2007:

Though comparatively low, the percentage of nonbelievers in academia is still much higher than the percentage of self-described nonbelievers found among the general public. That figure is only about 7 percent, according to the nationwide General Social Survey, issued by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago...

Just as surprising to the researchers was the range of belief across institutions and fields of research. Although nearly 37 percent of professors at elite research schools like Harvard are atheist or agnostic, about 20 percent of their colleagues have “no doubt that God exists.” At community colleges, in contrast, 15 percent of professors are atheist or agnostic, and 40 percent believe in God. These differences exist because of professors’ backgrounds and inclinations, says Gross. Professors who come from higher socioeconomic classes and are drawn to research over teaching or service—characteristics more common among academics at elite institutions—tend to be less religious.

A professor’s field of research or discipline is also predictive, he adds: psychologists and biologists are most likely to be nonbelievers (61 percent are atheist or agnostic), followed by mechanical engineers, economists, and political scientists. The most likely believers are professors of accounting (63 percent have no doubt that God exists), followed by professors of elementary education, finance, art, criminal justice, and nursing.[15]

In 2001, the atheist and philosopher Quentin Smith declared:

Naturalists [atheists] passively watched as realist versions of theism … began to sweep through the philosophical community, until today perhaps one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors are theists, with most being orthodox Christians…. God is not 'dead' in academia; he returned to life in the 1960's and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments."[16]

In 2004, Professor Alister McGrath, professor of historical theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University declared, "The golden age of atheism is over."[17]

Christian apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith through logical and evidence based arguments. Because of the rapid growth of Christianity in the developing world where people often have modest incomes, there is a large pent up demand for theological/Christian apologetic higher education which has spawned various initiatives such as Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology which offers free/low cost training in these academic disciplines.[18][19]

Due to global desecularization and the historic unpopularity of atheism in much of the world, the global demand for atheistic education in higher education, such as atheistic philosophy, is significantly less strong and faces diminishing prospects in the future (See: Global atheism).

See also

External links


  1. Religion and Education Around the World, Pew Research, 2016
  2. Schwadel, Philip (2011). The Effects of Education on Americans’ Religious Practices, Beliefs, and Affiliations. DOI:10.1007/s13644-011-0007-4. “education positively affects religious participation, devotional activities, and emphasizing the importance of religion in daily life; (3) education positively affects switching religious affiliations, particularly to a mainline Protestant denomination, but not disaffiliation; (4) education is positively associated with questioning the role of religion in secular society but not with support for curbing the public opinions of religious leaders; and (5) the effects of education on religious beliefs and participation vary across religious traditions. Education does influence Americans’ religious beliefs and activities, but the effects of education on religion are complex.” 
  3. Jim Kavanagh (11 August 2011). Study: More educated tend to be more religious, by some measures. CNN. ““With more years of education, you aren’t relatively more likely to say, ‘I don’t believe in God,’” he said. “But you are relatively more likely to say, ‘I believe in a higher power.’””
  4. The more education people receive, the more religious they become?. Daily Mail (12 August 2011). “By analyzing data from a large national survey, sociologist Philip Schwadel of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that people tend to become more religious - by certain definitions - as they further their education. The survey also qualified what concept of God or a 'higher power' individuals held, as well as whether they had any doubts. Mr Schwadel said that: 'With more years of education, you aren’t relatively more likely to say, "I don’t believe in God," but you are relatively more likely to say, "I believe in a higher power."'”
  5. More is More When it Comes to Education and Religion, Study Says. Christian Post (13 August 2011). “Sociologist Philip Schwadel from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) studied this phenomenon. He discovered that people today tend to become more religious as they further their education.”
  6. Why Do We Believe That Higher Education Leads to Atheism If It Doesn’t? by Barry Bosmin
  7. Ruiter, Stijn and van Tubergen, Frank (November 2009). "Religious attendance in cross-national perspective: a multilevel analysis of 60 countries". American Journal of Sociology, vol. 115, no. 3, pp. 863-95.
  8. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  9. 9.0 9.1 Thom Rainer (December 19, 1997). The Great Commission to Reach a New Generation. Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  10. Awana Clubs (religious clubs) in evangelical Christianity and religious retention rates
  11. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  12. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  13. Shall the Righteous Inherit the Earth? Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century - Academic paper by Eric Kaufmann
  14. The Religiosity of American College and University Professors, Sociology of Religion, Oxford University Press, 2009
  15. Faculty Faith, Harvard Magazine, 2007
  16. Theistic critiques of atheism by William Lane Craig
  18. Global survey documents theological education trends, Anglican Community News Service, September 19, 2013
  19. Why Free Graduate Theology Programs

See also: Does atheism thrive on economic prosperity and religion prosper when people are desperate and ignorant?