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. Kay C

    I am a Born Again Christian that is opened minded and accept people how they are, just because I am Born Again Christian doesn't mean I don't know anything, I am not religious , I am living a Biblical lifestyle.

    August 12, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Kay C
      Do you also believe that those who don't believe as you do are doomed to eternal torment?

      August 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Free

      Kay C
      "I am not religious , I am living a Biblical lifestyle."

      Isn't that like someone saying that they're not a vegetarian; it's just that their lifestyle doesn't include eating any meat ?

      Weren't the folks in the bible living according to their religion, with God making examples out of those who failed to meet the religious requirements? Are you somebody who worships God, observes religious holidays, supports religious charities, gathers with fellow believers to learn ore about your beliefs, and so on? If so, how is that any different than those who see Christianity as a religion like any other?

      August 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Fred1

      Here is an example biblical life style

      And Moses said unto them “Have ye saved all the women alive?... Now therefore Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him, but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” Num 31:1-2, 9-11, 14-18

      August 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • fred

      You are correct it is an example of biblical life style. Then as now we are to control our lusts and not be a slave to $exual sin. These Midianites and the women worshiped Peor and they were enticers seducing men. In short had they lived they would have again perverted the Israelites. As to keeping those not involved in the Peor perversion it was common in that day to keep as slaves captured women. Now, this may seem brutal today but not back then. It was also a strong warning to all the people what happens when you offend a holy God with your lusts. The method used by the women no man could resist and just before this happened Israels men were seduced and the result was disease (plague). This type of symbolism is not needed today because we use a different language form.

      August 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  2. The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

    Sophia did respond to a lower post of mine on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 10:35 am stating, "Lionly Lamb, the world is your mirror . the good you find in others, is in you too. The faults you find in others, are your faults as well."

    Reflections oh kindly heartfelt Sophia, can be the fountains of spiritual propenciities which shall levy the righteousness of Caulderon's revenge upon the nerdy wordy who declare "hey lookie here' or 'hey do you know' adolescentships that I find to be very irritating upon my spirited soul Sophia!

    August 12, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Duh

      5 spelling errors and more nonsense as you continue to prove your lack of intelligence and reading comprehension.

      Oh, and you proved Sophia right.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  3. I have an MBA from Harvard

    Jesus is a bigot.

    August 12, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Bulldog

      How would you know?

      August 12, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • I have an MBA from Harvard

      I don't know for sure. Just a wild guess really. But he probably got so many chicks that I really have to respect the guy.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      To be fair, only the Mormon Jesus is officially a bigot.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  4. Roger

    I have been a devout catholic my whole life and I am very educated. I think very religious people are, at least in general, more intelligent than less religious folk. I believe it takes a certain amount of brain power to understand god and communicate with god, that not everyone has. Funny too, because non-believers dubbed things like "intelligent design" when really, we are the more "intelligent" ones. Sorry atheists.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • BRC

      I always enjoy a chance to play devils advocate, so I'll bite. Let's start with laying some baselines, what do you consider communicating with god?

      August 12, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Roger

      He tells me what is right and wrong, daily.

      August 12, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • BRC

      Not exaclty what I meant; how does he do this? Do you pray and then he responds through... ?

      August 12, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Roger


      August 12, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • BRC

      Okay, we'll assume that your answer for the first baseline (communication) is that you actually hear the voice of a god; feel free to let me know if that's not what you meant.
      Baseline 2- Understanding, do you mean that you understand god's origins, composition and existence, or that you understand god's will and directions for you?

      August 12, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      @ BC And Roger et all,

      How does one come to the visualization of worded undertsanding? Could such understanding come from within? Does not the 'written' Word declare a more volumed tonalness then just the spoken Word? How therefore does the Word come across to otherly folk who read and do listen to that which is being read upon? Is not Truth in the Word being made manifest in the Light of one's soul worthy of something more than just the bickerings of falsified rumors and/or lamentations' bigotries? Seldom does a person of high regards devalue otherly folks' words unless they are found out as falsehoods and coruptible lies lamenting in the bigotrous naturalisms of peer endorsed sensationalisms!

      August 12, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Nonimus

      Hearing voices that no one else hears is a sign of auditory hallucination and should be looked into by a professional. And claiming others hear God as well only counts if they hear the same thing at the same time; it's a form of independent confirmation.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Stevie7

      "Seldom does a person of high regards devalue otherly folks' words"

      It's hard to value made up words. You'll get a lot farther if you use actual English.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Nonimus

      @The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar,
      "How does one come to the visualization of worded undertsanding?"
      You are the last person to talk about "understanding;" your ramblings are practically incomprehensible.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • NotBuyingIt

      Funny that you would attribute the term "intelligent design" to non-believers. Not a single athiest believes in "intelligent design" because the term is just a cover up for "creation", used by believers who want to pass off their ideas as viable alternatives to real science.

      As for "He tells me what is right and wrong, daily". If this is true, you must not be nearly as well educated as you might think...

      August 12, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I will concede that it takes a lot of mental run-time to digest the elaborate mythology concocted by the Catholic church.
      Aside from the double-think required to worship a triune God and still call oneself a monotheist, there is the convoluted hierarchy of angels.
      Sreaphim, Cherubim, Ophanim, Hashmallim, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, etc. ad nauseum not to mention the more than 10,000 Saints...
      Becoming well versed in the mythological minutiae does require a degree of scholarship – but the same can be said of Tolkien nerds or Trekkies.
      Hobbits, tribbles and demons are all made-up, even if there is a ton of lore surrounding them.

      August 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Howie

      I wouldn't be telling too many people about the 'voices' friend. You may end up in a rubber room. . .

      August 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Tom Leykis

    Now I know the study is a total fabrication. More education tends, by actual studies, to remove much of the religious tendencies in people. Why, do you ask? Because it's all a myth, made up BS. There is no such thing as "god", there is no proof "jesus" or mohammed ever existed that is accepted in academic circles. All BS.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Nonimus

      While I agree with your position, your logic appears faulty. Whether or not god(s)/Jesus/etc. are bs has little to do with how many believe they are true. An inverse of the common theist's argument of, "so many believers can't be wrong."

      August 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  6. The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

    The "Crux" of Monotheists Blahblah is that GOD made everything which I find as so being a falsification brought about by too many History orientative Gods and Goddesses and a selfish group of individuals wanted to put an end to all the bickering about whose God is greater or whose God is stronger! GOD, In my most humble perspectives may well have either been spoken into existence and then manifested otherly replicancies of itslef, being but 'as' smalller versions of GOD with powers of GOD hence they were Gods by GOD! In a less humorous way, 'In the Beginning' there was Nothingness and said Nothingness fell in on itself and thusly 'manifested' into being, the Gods. (Bear with me) The leadorialships of the many Gods was a questioning melodrama which did play out in differential divisionings wherefrom came 2 distinctively variable Ideologies. One Ideosyncracy of 1 ideology of Gods thought greatness in size was what mattered but the other ideology regarding the 2nd cluster of Gods viewed size as being irrelevant in as this 1st ideology of the Gods did grow in immensities, while the 2nd set of Gods became so very small in comparison to the enlargements of the Gods that viewed "bigger size" as being the most important value so to say. Hence, The Tree of "Fractal Cosmology" became the normality of the Constant Equation; x around X = X above x or Bigger Gods became the playing fields for the smaller Gods. In today's ongoing debates in scientific reletavisms "Fractal Cosmology" or FC, is a somewhat new perspective and not too many folks are up to speed on what such a philosophy does engender. Basically "FC" entails basically that what can be seen on the 'outside' is also upon the 'inside' materially speaking that is. Another view of this does entail that outer space things such a stellar nebulas have co-dependent smaller versions of themselves, these Sub-atomized stellar-like nebulas being within the confines of inner space,

    It is within these 2 dimensions of particle physics, 1 being of greater size and the 2nd being of smaller sizes wherefrom all life did spring up from the inductions surmounted via the smaller of the two dimensions of GOD, one being great in sizes and the Gods so very small stature. Ponder my words and please do not say to me I am stating meaningless dribble because I have thought for quite some time, (years actually) the relevencies of which does consume my days and most of my nights.

    As for the case of religious clairvoyencies and/or the subdiffusion of multiple religions, they are all nothing more than humanities' ongoing debauchals of debate-abilities wherein and whereupon stands mankind's Privities of Subjectives in ongoing rapports for one's undeniable needs in wanton freindships thru the ages.

    “Thusly Saith I, The Lionly Lamb of The Gods & In The Aboveness of My Word for they are The Relativisms of My Faith-based Morals and Ethics so help me GOD!”

    August 12, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  7. Religions of Death Death of Religion

    GOD the serial killer, has a group killers , they call them selves christians.
    Allah has the pedophiles, they call them selves Muslims.
    Both religions are soaked in the blood of their, victims.
    would both groups do the world a favor and go to your respect gods ASAP. but please pick a clean way to kill yourselves so that the rest dont have to pick up the bodies like so much dog ppop ooppps I mean God poop.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      @ RDDR,

      Such chickeney wranglings of stupidity's come ons aren't even worthy of a footnote to be levied into your jawsocket!

      August 12, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Sophia

      Lionly Lamb, the world is your mirror . the good you find in others, is in you too. The faults you find in others, are your faults as well.

      August 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  8. Joseph

    It seems they have redefined Agnosticism as "Faith." I see religious faith, sincerely religious faith, as falling for whatever they are told hook, line and sinker. Reciting a creed in unison and actually believing that creed.

    Even atheists may not categorically state that they know there are no gods, but that's not the same as being faithful. If one defines "organizing principles" as a "higher power", then the phrase becomes meaningless. Does one pray to this higher power? Does one blame things on the higher power (other than Murphy's Law)?

    "[T]he old divisions between deeply religious and irreligious probably don’t apply."

    Kumbaya. May the force be with you.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      🙁 & 🙂 = 🙂 🙂 + 🙂 & *+*

      August 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  9. Dewd

    This study means nothing without correlating what education people are getting, and where.

    A million little Bible-schools kicking out tons of graduates with "Theology," "Family Values" and "Faith Counseling" degrees are obviously going to correlate to "more religious activity."

    And schools kicking out engineers, doctors, and scientists will correlate to less.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      "Whta therefore 'Dewd' is the 'summation' of your Word in the aboveness of surmountables?

      August 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Yo

      ""Whta therefore 'Dewd' is the 'summation' of your Word in the aboveness of surmountables?"

      It amounts to about the same stupidity as your post but your comment is worse since you are making up words and can't spell. .

      August 12, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      My rectifications regarding my "Typo's" mista-ooks is beyound mine beeleephs! 🙂

      August 12, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Dewd

      "Wither doth thou hast thyne own thusnees, thyne hast thee upon thyself in thyne own house"

      – Dewderonomy 4:20 (This clearly tells me God thinks you're both wrong)

      August 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  10. Ashley

    Everyone who is trying to define "educated" seems to have not read the article.

    "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%."

    That would seem to me to indicate that there is some sort of linear progression where higher education correlates to higher religion. It's sad that people feel the need to act like they aren't religious so they can be perceived as intelligent.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • BRC

      I don't know that that is a perfect correlation though. Attending services or reading scriptures don't necessarily make you religious, they may just mean that you're curious. I am currently working my way through the bible, cover to cover, but it's because I am trying to understand the other side's point of view, I have no intention of converting. As people learn more, and become more "scholarly" they tend to research their views and opinions, and seek out more information on the world around them. So an uneducated teenager who just says they'r ean athiest to rebel isn't going to do any real looking; but someone who is a graduate student who is agnostic is going to delve into the religions around them to try and form a good knowledge base. Obviously I am not going to debate the statistic, but I rarely if ever trust thier meaning, or that they're relaly a strong indicator for anything.

      August 12, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      @ Ashley, There are in this world, many educated people and within the U.S.A. many religious people are turning toward education and vice versa. This 'Blog' does have relevence in that young folks who are wanting to be educated are so doing and have thru grace become consciously aware that worldly events and situations are way beyond being one' or many folks' abilities to rectify such humongous problems that this world now has in its' britches of generationed failures upon failures and to just now heed the Word of Truth-Be-Told Fundamentalisms regarding sound moral and unscrupulous ethical constraints.is a good starting point for reconciling concerns.

      August 12, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  11. JIm

    I used to be religious, but the longer I live, the less religious I become. I think Christianity/Judaism/Islam are for crooks, cowards and the weak:
    Crooks – they are in religion for money only, nothing else.
    Cowards – cover their dirty deeds and thoughts by religious behavior and church.
    The weak – Instead of changing themselves and perfecting their well-being, they blame it on God and look for answers in religion why they are so pathetic, waiting for God to change them.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Mike

      Couldn't agree more.

      August 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  12. Monty Gaither

    While there are highly educated people who can compartmentalize their brain and protect their religious beliefs from their rational brain. That does not detract from the fact that the more educated and the more intelligent one is the far more likely that this person is to be a non-beliefer in any religion.

    People who compartmentalize do not reallly examine their religious beliefs using fully functional cognative thought process (logic) and they do not compare those beliefs with what is truely known about the world.

    Some will even tell you that they do not care what the facts are or that there is no evidence to support any of their beliefs. They "know" their beliefs are valid, either because it comforts them or because of some personal experience. Neither of which proves anything. Believers say "know" when they should say blindly believe.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  13. Canadian Jack

    Religion is divisive. The Creator never published a religious book. Men did. Scientific research has now established that women are smarter than men. Yet no work of religion has made women the primary players in their stories. All of us are born with Cannabis receptors in our brains. The Cannabis Weed evolved before we did. How did cannabis receptors wind up in our brains. When mammals (humans included) die traumatically, their bodies are flushed with endorphins to eliminate pain, Why would a cold mechanical evolutionary process give a hoot about mammalian pain. To find the Creator of all that exists you have to search for evidence. The Creator has left her finger prints all over the Universe for us mere mortals to discover.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Canadian Jack
      This is what we like to call the "God of the Gaps" theory.
      Don't have an exact reason for something? Goddidit.
      The problem is that the gaps keep getting smaller as scientific knowledge increases....

      August 12, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Stevie7

      "When mammals (humans included) die traumatically, their bodies are flushed with endorphins to eliminate pain, Why would a cold mechanical evolutionary process give a hoot about mammalian pain."

      Because an ability to tolerate pain is evolutionary advantageous. If we couldn't function in pain, we wouldn't get very far. The same process occurs for any physical trauma – not just those that result in death. This makes perfect sense from an evolutionary stand point.

      As a counter argument, why do we have an unnecessary organ that provides little to no benefit, but can still kill us?

      August 12, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Nonimus

      Cannabis receptors are there because the human body, and other mammals, produce a Cannabis-like substance on their own. Wiki: "Cannabinoid receptors are activated by three major group of ligands, endocannabinoids (produced by the mammalian body), plant cannabinoids (such as THC, produced by the cannabis plant) and synthetic cannabinoids (such as HU-210)."
      This is same reason that all natural narcotics affect humans, there is a natural substance that mimics, or causes a similar effect, the body's own chemicals. Most, I think, mimic or effect the endorphin production/receptors in the brain, but it's still the same concept and has nothing to do with design. Unless, of course, you think God wanted a bunch of drug addicts hooked on opium, pot, heroin, tobacco, alcohol, etc.

      August 12, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Guest10

      Actually, humans do make chemicals that activate the same receptors as cannabis. The cannabinoid receptors are involved in pain perception and immune function, and respond to chemicals we make in our own bodies as well as cannabis. These "endocannabinoid" compounds are similar to hormones (anandamide, 2-AG, etc.) and are difficult to isolate but they are undergoing intense study. The fact that cannabis just happens to contain a molecule that activates the same receptor is coincidence. The cannabis plant likely evolved delta-9 THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) as a defense against insect predation.

      Source: I'm a neuroscientist.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  14. JohnR

    Once again, this study compared more and less educated RELIGIOUS people and found that the more educated were more likely to actually read the bible, but less likely to believe it is the literal word of god. They were more likely to attend religious services, but those services tended to be held in churches with a less literal, less "orthodox" (from the historical point of view) theology and a much more liberal social philosophy. This study in no way impugns, as it frankly doesn't address, the educational disparities between irreligious and the religious.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Maleko

      Actually, the study is not at all limited to RELIGIOUS people. Google "General Social Survey" - the study was completed by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. You can read about their methodology on the website. As a general survey, the sample includes thousands of people of varying degrees of religiosity. As with all reputable social surveys, they ask several questions to explore their target concepts. In terms of religiosity, they ask about denomination, church attendance, one's perception of her/his own religiosity, etc.

      They ask, among other things:
      "To what extent do you consider yourself a religious person? Are you very religious, moderately religious, slightly religious, or not religious at all?"
      "To what extent do you consider yourself a spiritual person? Are you very spiritual, moderately spiritual, slightly spiritual, or
      not spiritual at all?"
      "How often do you attend religious services?" and the answer choices ranged from "never" to "several times a week."

      Clearly, each of these questions allows for a response from a nonreligious person. Correlations, then, between these measures and education say something both about religious folks and nonreligious folks–namely, that a widely held cultural belief (that religiosity decreases as education increases) is not the whole story.

      All of this information is posted in the code books on the GSS website, accessible to anyone.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  15. Adam

    I expect a skewed study such as this to be reorted on Faux News, but congrats CNN this proves you are just as ignorant! First of all, what does "educated" refer to- a GED, a PhD? Why does "religious" only refer to different Protestant sects in this study? This is the first time refuting everything I've heard and seen connecting levels of education to degrees of religious belief. No credibility CNN, what a surprise.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Maleko

      Skewed study? The author (of the study, not CNN's article) is a sociologist who got these results using data from the University of Chicago's General Social Survey (one of the most respected and widely used social surveys in the country). His results are to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific research journal (meaning that the study, its methodology, etc., had to meet the approval of nationally renowned sociologists before qualifying for publication in the journal).

      What is your basis for claiming the study is skewed?

      August 14, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  16. r

    so i don't get this article... they talk about religion but then fill the story with quotes from an athiest. what?! am i missing something? or is this a bias on CNN's part?

    August 12, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  17. KateB

    Who'd they study? People from Religious colleges? This goes against everything I've observed in my 20+ years in science and higher-education...I love to see the data on what defines "educated" (frequently, it's a high school diploma with up to 2 years of college).

    August 12, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Maleko

      Google "General Social Survey" and take a look at their methodology. If you're well-versed in higher education, you'll be able to find the information you're asking about on their website. (If you're not familiar with sociological research methodology, it can be difficult to know where to find the information on their website, given the enormity of the GSS project.)

      August 14, 2011 at 2:20 am |
  18. Sybaris

    Meaningless survey.

    Education doesn't inhibit stupidity.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Nonimus

      ... just increases it's effectiveness? ; )

      August 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  19. BigRed

    The question is how do we define educated? Is someone who graduates from HS educated. Or is someone who has a PHD educated? The next question is how the study was done. Did it involve a broad sweep of a population, or did it involve interviewing members of churches? Finally what is an educated person? Is it a person who is naturally intelligent yet has not attended higher education? Or is it only a person who has attended college. Not everyone who attends and actually graduates from HS or College/University are intelligent or even capable. IE The may know the subject matter but they are still dumb as dirt.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  20. Doc Vestibule

    Dr. Greg Graffin's thesis paper, "Monism, atheism, and the naturalist worldview: Perspectives from evolutionary biology" revealed the following statistics about the participants from 22 countries: 83.89% are irreligious; 87.92% reject life after death; and 77.85% affirm philosophical naturalism as their world-view. Only 1.3% of the participants have a traditionally theistic world-view; an additional 3.3% blend theism with naturalism, resulting in the lowest frequency of theistic belief ever reported among a group of scientists, 4.6%.

    I'd be interested to learn what Philip Schwadel would find if he polled those with a predominantly scientific education.
    A degree in basket weaving, cosmotology or renaissance literature does not require the same level of scholarship as evolutionary biology, chemical engineering or particle physics.
    I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the overwhelming majority of those with advanced scientific degrees are atheists.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:39 am |
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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.