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Study: More educated tend to be more religious, by some measures
August 11th, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Study: More educated tend to be more religious, by some measures

By Jim Kavanagh, CNN

People tend to become less religious as they become more educated, right? Not necessarily, according to a new study.

After analyzing data from a large national survey, University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel found that people actually tend to become more religious - by some definitions, at least - as they further their education.

“It all falls down to what you consider to be religious,” said Schwadel, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “If it’s simply attending religious services, then no. Highly educated people are not less religious; in fact, they’re more religious.”

“But if it’s saying the Bible is the literal word of God and saying that only one religion is the true religion, then they are less religious,” he continued.

Schwadel used data from the highly regarded General Social Survey, a cumulative and nationally representative survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago biannually since 1972.

Social scientists rely heavily on the “gold standard” General Social Survey, which provides cumulative data collected regularly between 1972 and 2010.

His study will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Review of Religious Research.

Schwadel found that with each additional year of education:

- The likelihood of attending religious services increased 15%.

- The likelihood of reading the Bible at least occasionally increased by 9%.

- The likelihood of switching to a mainline Protestant denomination - Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian USA or United Methodist - increased by 13%.

Respondents to the General Social Survey were asked whether they believe in God without any doubts; with various levels of doubt; whether they have a different concept of God or a higher power; or whether they didn’t believe in any such thing, Schwadel said.

“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.’”

The findings makes sense to D. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College in Massachusetts and author of “Faith in the Halls of Power,” about the growing evangelical Christian elite.

“The more educated a person is in their faith, the more cosmopolitan they are in their religious outlook,” he said. “They’re worldly in the very best sense of the term. They rub shoulders with people of different kinds of faiths every day and as a result they have different visions of what it means to express your faith in the public square.”

“They’re more open-minded, but here’s the thing: They’re no less faithful.”

But a leading voice for atheists says the study’s finding about education increasing certain measures of religiosity may be less straightforward than it appears.

“There are plenty of people who go to church who are not believers,” said Ed Buckner, former president of the group American Atheists. “They go for all sorts of reasons. I don’t mean that they’re all frauds and deceptive, (but) they go for social reasons or (because) that’s what’s expected of them by their families or their peers. Sometimes they go so they can sell more insurance.”

“But there are a lot of atheists in the pews, or at least people who are not committed to and probably haven’t even thought about and examined carefully the religious views that are being expressed in that church.”

The finding that highly educated people gravitated toward mainline Christian denominations suggested class dynamics at work, Buckner argued.

As people become more educated, he said, they move into the middle and upper middle class. “And as they do so,” he said, ”they move into more establishment situations regarding the society, which means they join the churches that are the churches of the elite, or at least of the middle class.”

But Schwadel said respondents were discussing their actual beliefs, not just churchgoing habits.

“What it all says to me is that religion matters to people of all education levels in the United States,” he said. “It’s just that, depending on your level of education, you behave and believe differently.”

So why the widespread perception that intellectuals are less religious, even largely irreligious?

Academics are at least moderately less religious than the general public, Schwadel said.

“When we see these trends, we tend to exaggerate them,” he said. “Most people see a trend and they think everyone’s like that.”

Lindsay thinks there’s more to it than that.

“There has been a concentrated effort by a cohort of very smart people who treat religion as the panacea for the simple-minded,” he said.

Bucker disputes that.

“Do we think that anybody who doesn’t agree with us is an idiot or a fool? Well, some of us do think that,” he said of atheists. “But I don’t think it’s systematically true of everybody in the movement.

“… I mean, I do think they’re wrong. Anybody who believes that there is a sky god out there who is going to do anything good or evil for us, basically anyone who thinks the universe cares about us, is making a mistake,” he continued. “In the words of Richard Dawkins, they’ve been deluded.”

But some people’s religious beliefs are “deeply held and carefully considered,” Buckner said. “And I also realize that some atheists’ lack of religious beliefs are pretty superficial and they haven’t thought things through.

“I have a lot more respect for a religious person who has really considered this, thought it through, read some books that disagree with their point of view and still accepts that position than I do for somebody who just unthinkingly rejects any particular point of view.”

Lindsay said the study could help break down some of society’s religious barriers.

“It’s a problem of perceptions because it fuels the idea that there’s some kind of deeply entrenched culture war where smart people are opposed to religious people, when in fact it’s far more complicated than that,” he said. “And in fact, the old divisions between deeply religious and irreligious probably don’t apply.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Education • Polls

soundoff (1,651 Responses)
  1. Green1955

    Being " educated " does not automatically imply that someone is " intelligent "
    A significant part of intelligence is being able to critically think. There are plenty of so called "educated" people out there that possess little to no critical thinking ability. Critical thinking is not one dimensional thinking but rather multidemsional deep thought including being able to critique ones own thinking without personal bias. Those that possess good critical thinking skills almost always have above average or higher levels of intelligence. If you are religious then you do not possess good critical thinking ability and in my opinion...even if you are educated...you are not very intelligent.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • J.W

      Thanks for expressing your opinion.

      August 11, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  2. Francis Bellamy

    As an atheist I believe in being a good person for goodness sakes. I know that it makes the society I live in a better place if people are mostly kind, moral and treat others as they wish to be treated. I certainly do not need the specter of eternal damnation to be a good person. If it takes threats and cajoling to be a moral and good person, then you are not good and moral.

    Religion gives people certain groups a feeling of ease because they are scared of dying, or what happened to a loved one, etc. We all live, we all die, nothing magical or fantastical. If you need to be amazed study physics, or sociology, both will provide more deep thought than the fear of the unknown.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • deedee

      God Bless You

      August 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  3. Green1955

    There is indeed a plethora of so called "educated" people out there that are deluded by religion. After coming across these individuals for the past 30 years...I have come to the conclusion that they all have underlying psychiatric, psychosocial or psychological disorders, the majority have an educational background that is almost always unrelated to science and most importantly, they all possess very poor critical thinking skills. It should be mandatory for high school students to take a class in critical thinking as well as personal finance.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • dens

      I smell a troll

      August 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  4. prayer

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAEIrp4MFBE&feature=player_detailpage

    August 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  5. Green1955

    Test

    August 11, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  6. Greg G.

    I don't care how intelligent or educated someone is; if they believe in an invisible man in the sky who will reward or condemn you after you die (oxymoron, anyone?), they're delusional.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • DDDDD

      I don't think anyone is delusional for believing/disbelieving in God. If you do your an idiot

      August 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Francis Bellamy

      No, it's your idiot or you're an idiot. Not your an idiot. You my friend are a genius, god just told me so.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  7. Ghost

    Ghost
    The problem science has is that they believe humans invented God in order to explain things they didn't understand... this fundamental flaw in their understanding of Religion and the purpose behind it, is the basis for their idea that if we can give a scientific alternative explaination for things, people won't need God anymore because we can explain everything (theoretically) without God. THey are wrong in their belief people need God to explain how things work... they need him to explain WHY they work.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Greg G.

      It's not a "flaw", it's a theory that happens to explain the facts that are very observable. Humanity is repleat with religions, both alive and left to the pages of history. They all have one thing in common, the need to explain the unknown. Many feel the need to defeat death in some form. We are mortal beings and don't want to die. We can think outside of the moment and perceive of our future, ending in our death. The line between the known and unknown has moved a lot thanks to the factual findings of science, but there will ALWAYS be the unknown. And THAT is where "god" will live in the minds of those who imagine him there. Period.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Guillaume

      You are re-posting yourself.
      I find it amusing that you are so defensive about your faith. From a scientific point of view, God is irrelevant. If we can prove God, then God will become an accepted theory. Until that happens, God simply holds no interest in scientists eyes. There is no conspiracy of scientists to disprove God. We simply don't care. You are being overly defensive.
      You claim that my belief is wrong, but you fail to bring a point to justify your claim. Try harder.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Ghost

      I did repost, but only because I didn't mean to post in a reply originally. Faith isn't up to me to defend. It defends itself. Evidence for God exists in every scientist in the fact that they are capable of asking questions and comprehending the answers. No other animal or spieces is capable of it. The capacity for abstract thought is proof enough for me. Our ability to Dream and in our dreams enter a world that has mass, gravity, color, texture, all while you are really just laying in bed asleep with your eyes closed, with your blanket on. This concept to me is God. I can close my eyes and see color and shapes more clearly than with my eyes open. I can smell in my dreams food that isn't there. This is God. Science explains things through observation... how can they explain a dream that is only verifiable to one person at a time?

      August 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Ghost

      I never said you were wrong, Scientists by their nature have to limit themselves to the observable and repeatable. Thats their process. Its not wrong, its just incomplete.
      THe "FLAW" I mentioned was just the basis for Steven Hawkins belief that science can explain everything physical and therefore God is no longer needed to explain the universe. Because science has an answer that isn't "God did it". But he has only given an alternative to the how and has given NOTHING to the why. NOR SHOULD HE. Its not his place. The Why is for philosophers and thats why God will never go away.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Guillaume

      You are confusing knowledge and belief. Your beliefs are indisputable, and you can believe wrong things if you want (for example, nothing in a dream has mass). You are misusing the word "proof". You "believe" that dreams are the evidence of God. That's fine. They are not proof however. And I can explain both dreams and the fact that scientists are capable of asking questions without God. According to Occam's razor, the theory that introduces the least amount of new assumptions wins. That is science, and that is knowledge. Your beliefs are completely independent, and you can believe this to be wrong, but it's not.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Ghost

      You are right beliefs are separate from science. I am not disputing that, but you seem to "believe" if its not observable, and repeatable it is fantasy or myth. Waking dreams and lucid dreams are explainable to science, but those of us who suffer from them, know that it is not the same thing as a normal dream. What you need to do more research into is the Spectrum. Visible and other than visible light. What is observable and what isn't depends on what frequency you are operating on. And you cannot sideline things as myths and fairy tales just because science offers no explanation for it.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Guillaume

      A flaw assumes wrongness. Also, Hawkins never said that there is no God. He actually has written that there could be one. I bet you have never read his books.
      There is a theory that specifically states that no theory will explain everything. We know this already.
      You are confusing philosophy and religion. Philosophy does not require God. I believe there can be a world without God.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • fsmgroupie

      god ? I don't need no stinkin' god !

      August 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Guillaume

      I have a good grasp on the radiation spectrum. I'm also sorry to hear you suffer from a chronic condition.
      We are getting to the crux of the problem: you believe that scientists dismiss unproved things as myth. That is incorrect. Quite the opposite actually: scientists are fascinated by the unproven. That's why they try to prove things! However science must dismiss disproven things as incorrect. That is our barometer on truth. It's not perfect, and sometimes a disproven theory turns out to be true, but it's the best we have yet. That is why we cannot accept the Bible as a literal piece of work, since it directly contradicts so many accept theories. If taken metaphorically (for philosophical purposes), then we're fine with it.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Ghost

      Read what I write... the flaw isn't in Hawkin or his theories, its in the articles surprise that educated people believe in God, and the reason they are suprised is because they think if science can explain the how the "need" for God to explain it will go away and people will be atheist... thats the flaw... Religion is more concerned with the WHY... I have gone to church all my life and never heard a preacher preach on the Creation... but rather on the Surmon on the mount and other philosophical ways to live your life. The article's surprise is based on a flaw.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Guillaume

      Right. Now you are rescinding your own claims. I'm done. That was a good talk, I hope you get better. Cheers.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  8. Iceman

    Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics
    you said: I always find it interesting that people will argue that it is god's word when in fact it is man's."

    I always find it interesting that people will think the Bible is man's written word to man. When the evidence clearly shows otherwise.

    For example, were astronauts around in 732 BCE? Who would know about the earth in outer space? Isaiah 40:22 "There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell." Yet, Isaiah wrote this truth in 732 BCE, long before space travel.

    Only by men inspired by God could know that the Earth was hung upon nothing long before man traveled into outer space. Certainly, the Bible IS God's Word to man.

    I

    August 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Guillaume

      That's incorrect. Men have known (or hypothesized) about the earth, the sun and space before Isaiah wrote this. If that's your only "proof" that the Bible was given by God, then I strongly suggest you reconsider your faith.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      @ Iceman,

      It is not enough to want to believe in their being Gods and Goddesses, the Sons and Daughters of GOD, mankind (especially me) needs a steadied feeding of sounded enlightenments to use as garnishments upon that which they do so cherish as being Holy in one's sights. As for the ongoings of the generationed educative folks who see light in a religious mindset of moralized principalities ever dispondently being coerced from religious acceptances to fully be realized I sense that such an apathy of tolerance toward the Lower Orders of manliness' concerns, does generate a form of emotionalized callousness of which I find myself wrestling with on inferred occasions. People can be crewl on both sides of the fences when they indulge themselves to parly away in generalizations of thought progessives. I am as guilty as those I beseech and bemoan upon.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Fred1

      Almost every religion believes their god lives in the sky. This is not amazing

      August 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  9. martinipaul

    If science is indeed going to explain everything don't you think it would be wise, a word atheists seem not to use, to see what that explanation is going to be? As a researcher the empirical result was not always predicted by 'theoretical' expectations. Science may well put the final nail in atheism. That would be a hoot!

    August 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Guillaume

      According to the Godel theorem, it is impossible to devise a theory that is both complete and consistent. To answer your question: no, science will not be able to answer everything. To put it in perspective however, the answers we got from science have fueled the soar humanity has experienced for the past few hundred years, and we can safely assume the rate at which things get better thanks to science is exponential.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Ghost

      The problem science has is that they believe humans invented God in order to explain things they didn't understand... this fundamental flaw in their understanding of Religion and the purpose behind it, is the basis for their idea that if we can give a scientific alternative explaination for things, people won't need God anymore because we can explain everything (theoretically) without God. THey are wrong in their belief people need God to explain how things work... they need him to explain WHY they work.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Guillaume

      First of all, you haven't explained to me why it is not true that humans invented God. Second of all, you have implied that science tries to explain why things are. That is incorrect. Scientists try to explain how. Why is irrelevant. If you want to attribute that to your God, be my guest.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Ghost

      Well thats the point isn't it. Science doesn't want to get into philosophy, nor should they, they need to stick to hard provable facts. But that means Science will NEVER answer the "why?" question, and therefore GOD will never go out of style.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • Ghost

      OH yeah, and IF humans DID invent God, they didn't do it for scientific reasons, they did it for philosophical reasons. Back in the day people cared less about the "how" things work and more about the "why" they work. Everything was for them... "Gods Gift". If they didn't invent God, then they are right, and logically, If they are wrong nothing happens, if they are right, atheists will burn in h3ll.... logically, it only makes sense to believe in God.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • I_get_it

      Ghost; "If they are wrong nothing happens, if they are right, atheists will burn in h3ll"

      This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century.

      They also had better choose the "correct" god:

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" punishes those who believe just to cover their butts in the afterlife?

      August 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Fred1

      If science does put the final nail in atheism it will do it with solid evidence and repeatable verifiable experiments. Not faith or the church or the bible

      August 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  10. martinipaul

    From whence did concrete existence come from? Atheists must be arguing that something was 'created' out of nothingness. Atheists have their own 'miracles' to contend with.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Guillaume

      Your question assumes that existence came from anywhere. According to the current understanding of the universe, that is incorrect. Existence has always been, so it did not need to come from anywhere. This is why I don't need a creator to be at peace with reality. In fact, I am more at peace knowing there is no creator.
      Having said that, I do believe in miracles, with the following caveat: I believe that everything is a miracle.

      NB: Before you go on asking about what was before the big bang, I urge you to read Hawkins books. They are a vulgarized version of the current understanding of reality. Let's just say that time slows down infinitely as you approach the big bang. This is why asking "what was before the big bang" is similar to asking "what is north of the north pole?".

      August 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Didn't Hawking say that the uuniverse can and will create itself from nothing? Perhaps, I am mistaken.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Terrey

      Your statement would imply that Atheism attempts to explain the universe. It does not. It simply states, that one lacks belief in God or gods. It does not state that they do not exist, nor does it state that the universe came about in any way.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Guillaume

      I read on the news that he did, but I have not read any of his books that explain it, so before I agree with that statement, I'd have to read it from his hand. News source have a tendency of exaggerating his words.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Terrey: Great post and I respect that and your right to be an atheist. Going to have to read your other posts. I've just been riding about tilting at windmills. Great, good fun. If all of my religious puffery has offended you, I apologize. I'd say, God bless, but instead, I'll just say take care. I have to go. Maybe sometime we can joust. Would like that and probably learn something from you. Thanks.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  11. Lycidas

    Thank you CNN for bringing this topic up. Whether it is accurate or not, it sure ruffled the feathers of certain ppl on here that are not used to being on the defensive. It's been fun reading.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  12. Laughing

    I'm personally not shocked by this and although it's probably true that this study is horrendously bias, atheists don't have a monopoly on intelligence or education. However I think what many people are missing is that this study ignores religion education and focuses on education specifically. One thing I can say with a fair amount of certainty is that when a person studies religion specifically, their knowledge of world religion directly correlates with what faith they are. The more educated you are about religions the more likely it is that you are an atheists. This doesn't really apply to scientists though (most people in physics, chemistry, astronomy) who get closer looks at what makes the world tick and have been in direct opposition to religion for a while.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_gene

      a nice site to get caught up on something pecular,,,,,,,The God Gene

      August 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  13. DMJ

    Even if there was a correlation between religiosity and intelligence, why would any of you care; correlation does not equal cause. I have met many intellectuals (scientists, mathematicians, doctors, etc) who were religious and many atheists that were brainless and vice versa. I don’t think someone’s intelligence should be judged because of their belief system. If you believe that someone is delusional because they do not follow your system of beliefs you are probably delusional yourself.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  14. Iceman

    LivingInVA
    you said: " Guess you missed Matthew 5:17 through 5:21 – the part that folks always use when they decide to quote Leviticus. " Confusion? Contradiction? No. Reread Matthew 5:17b "I [Jesus] came not to destroy but to fulfill". Simply put Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Law. Interestingly, that statement is also repeated in the book of Romans.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      I always find it interesting that people will argue that it is god's word when in fact it is man's. People will put total stock in words of men when it comes to a god.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I guess others have failed to divert them away from their form of belief. Maybe the atheists just aren't convincing enough for such ppl.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Lycidas

      I guess others have failed to divert them away from their form of belief. Maybe the atheists just aren't convincing enough for such ppl.
      ---------
      No one can force anybody...they have to come to that conclusion on their own. Atheists do not convince me that there is or never was a god. Same goes for my fellow man and his visions and imagination regarding gods. I have simply chosen to remove the middle "man" and await direct response from the gods if there is any.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "No one can force anybody...they have to come to that conclusion on their own. Atheists do not convince me that there is or never was a god. Same goes for my fellow man and his visions and imagination regarding gods. I have simply chosen to remove the middle "man" and await direct response from the gods if there is any."

      Understandable and yes...no one can force anyone. I am certain many ppl are waiting for modern science to show them differently as well.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Lycidas

      "No one can force anybody...they have to come to that conclusion on their own. Atheists do not convince me that there is or never was a god. Same goes for my fellow man and his visions and imagination regarding gods. I have simply chosen to remove the middle "man" and await direct response from the gods if there is any."
      .
      Understandable and yes...no one can force anyone. I am certain many ppl are waiting for modern science to show them differently as well.
      .
      Myself, I am not waiting nor stressing over it. I wonder if we ever "discover" who god or the gods really were like in the garden of eden, will we then turn to who created the god or gods? Never ending cycle, which we have millions of years to ponder I suppose.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      Lycidas..I agree that no one can force anyone to believe anything, we form our opinions and thoughts based on what we see in the world, and understand. I wonder though, how many people who claim to believe in "god " publicly have real doubts while in the safety of their own thoughts. How many see that the belief makes no sense but go along with it as society still has issues with non belief. I do not expect to see any difference between non belief and belief as far as intelligence is concerned.. we are all the same.. only I do not believe in god that's all. We have always lived, and continue to live in a physically godless world.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Fred1

      "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. "For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household."
      - (Matthew 10:34-36)

      August 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  15. The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

    The Devilries of Secular Atheisms do:

    1. Promote the morality of Selfishness and the selective issues toward mockery's dissertations.

    2. Deny that God could be a reality in order to 'feel' good about themselves in front of others of like-mindedness.

    3. Accuse God of all the things that go wrong in the Ways of this world's people fortuitously beckoning for God to make right that which is the faults of the fathered' generations' own doing.

    4. Scoff outrightly whenever they feel a religious devotees' Word becoming clear to another person in the feilds of discontentment.

    5. Plagerize the validities of religions' righteousness thru the ages by flagrantly utilizing otherly words spoken and/or written of by people who embellish in the limelight of Secularisms' redundancies in atheisms' styleized infidelities.

    6. Make popular by the written Word, blasphemous and flagellant exercising of liberty's freedoms of expressionisms to say whatever toward whomever and against personages' moral relatives and tawdry slung ethics unbecoming the righteous scruples of the people's resoluteness.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  16. Yo Nana

    I didn't know there were universities in Nebraska!

    August 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • OvernOut

      There is one, and I can't believe that's it's now part of the Big 10. That seems so wrong.

      August 12, 2011 at 5:32 am |
  17. MattS

    Wow. I am stunned at the implicit aim of this story and the "study" it represents. Please note:
    "Philip Schwadel found that people actually tend to become more religious – by some definitions, at least..."

    "People." Only Americans are discussed.
    "Religious." Only Protestant Christianity is discussed.

    Why oh why would a Buddhist immigrant from India, a Muslim refugee from Somalia or a family of erudite Jewish folks from Ukraine A) read the Bible or B) switch to a mainstream Protestant denomination? THESE ARE THE CRITERIA USED here to deduce religiousness....rubbish, and ethnocentric, low-brow sensationalism at that.

    For shame. Do some cross-cultural research and quantify it across demographics or shut up.

    MLS

    August 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Luc

      It appears that you are assuming that Schwadel's study is does not include different religious beliefs. It may be that the writer only focused on Schwadel's study as it relates to Protestants. You would probably need to read Schwadel's study itself to support your critique, but your point about paying attention to the cultural lenses through which filtered information is presented as fact is on point.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Fred1

      The whole problem comes from the fact that if you gather a random group 100 educated people 90% of them will be liberal arts majors

      August 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  18. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

    If I say god talked to me, how can any christian prove that he didn't? If god gave me instructions for a new plan or direction who is anybody to question me?

    August 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      🙂 & 🙂 + 🙁 = 🙂 🙂 🙂

      August 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      & + =
      -----
      Why didn't I think of that????

      August 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • o.k.

      We can't prove it, any more than we can prove that he was spoken with any Christian. However, we have every right to question you just as you have a right to question us. We're guided by biblical text which instructs us to look for the fruits of the spirit–if what God is telling you to do is inconsistent with His Wod, then we will know because your actions will prove the falsity (or truth) of your claims. If you suggest that God has told you that the Bible is wrong–that we got it all wrong, then I would take the position that you and many other atheists typically post–God isn't worth my time because he is obviously incapable of getting his Word out correct the first time.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • fred

      What did God say? Any Christian that is truly following Chirst will know if was of God, so lets hear it

      August 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "What did God say? Any Christian that is truly following Chirst will know if was of God, so lets hear it"

      That is a theological fallacy. Being a follower does not make one all knowing. Look at the book of Job, he was a true follower and never found out any of his answers really.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • fred

      Lycidas,
      Job did not have the Holy Spirit. Remember when Christ assended to heaven he sent back a helper the Holy Spirit to guide followers in all truth. It is actually not as hard as it seems.
      Also, keep Job in perspective and what that book was all about.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Job did not have the Holy Spirit. Remember when Christ assended to heaven he sent back a helper the Holy Spirit to guide followers in all truth. It is actually not as hard as it seems.
      Also, keep Job in perspective and what that book was all about."

      Book of Job was a book about questioning one's lot in life and why evil befalls good ppl....among other lessons.

      Unless I missed it, there is nothing that says one will know all truth. Even in the NT there are some hidden things.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • fred

      Lycidas,
      Oh, I did not mean to say I was all knowing or anything like that. When someone tells me God just told them XYZ i simply test it against the Scritpures to see if it fits with Gods character. If it does not then I question that part which seems out of wack to understand why the individual would hear such things. For example "God told me to get a divorce because my wife is not a christian". Well that does not fit scripture or there are some details missing. People often hear what they want God to say rather than what God said or would say.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Lycidas

      " i simply test it against the Scritpures to see if it fits with Gods character."

      A wise thing to do.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      I would like to know what the bible tells us that was not known by humanity before it came along? Morality existed, as did the knowledge of good and bad, Humans had to co exist for hundreds of thousands of years in order to survive.. we always needed each other.. those that did not play well with others were weeded out and their genes were not included in the gene pool.. technology has tended to make us more of an island and perhaps less dependent on each other.,but if we started to believe that some supernatural being was going to help it may have been the start of being selfish?

      August 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • fred

      EvolvedDNA
      Man did not know the way the truth and the life that came through Jesus. Man did not have the Holy Spirit as that was given after Christ ascended. Man did not know God only their own man made gods.
      No as to selfish because it was not until man went for the forbidden tree did selfishness emerge.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  19. Jess C

    I work with a lot of foks who are very educated but go to church to network and market their various business. At the same time, they even slam religion, so go figure. This is not proven; just someone's theory.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  20. sg

    For me the question often comes down to the role of morality in our lives and its origin.

    As a religious person, I do believe an understanding of morality can be developed outside of a belief in God. The question that follows for me, though, is 'What's the point?' Obviously, the answer is that evolution has selected for the behavior and it's easy to explain why: those individuals inclined to work together will have an advantage over those that don't. That advantage is furthered when they seek to advance the welfare of those with whom they cooperate to ensure future cooperation. But that is all that can be said with regard to the origins of morality, altruism, fairness, honesty and the other traits we claim to hold dear. Those 'values' are only the result of evolutionary selection and any concept of morality that attempts to go beyond that is without foundation.

In other words, my behavior is simply another manifestation of the incredibly long and staggeringly unlikely series of chance chemical reactions having taken place over millions of years, resulting in my existence. I am nothing more (morally, ethically, spiritually) than self-aware, ambulatory chemistry. As such, any question of morality or 'human values' as ends in themselves or of having intrinsic worth, is pointless. It seems, though, that another piece is therefore present in the evolutionary puzzle. That is, those concepts of intrinsic value in morality that seem necessary to ensure a 'properly' functioning society, are evolution's final work in humans. They are, therefore a form of evolutionary self-delusion.

Here, then is my point: if religion, as many claim, is a delusion and morality (so called) is claimed to exist outside of religion, then it would seem I'm simply presented with a number of choices: a self-delusional, godless 'morality' (because it makes me feel better to think that I'm not simply a lump of organic chemistry), evolutionary post-morality (the question of the meaning of life changes from 'How should I conduct myself?' to 'What can I get away with and not get kicked out of society?'), and religion. My brand being that found in 1 John 4:7-11.

I consider those options, look at my daughter and choose the last.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.