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. Fielding Mellish

    Let's face it...the music in hell is going to be a lot more exciting.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Jim

      Sorry but just the fact that someone is in Hell that it is not a pleasant stay. The music will be far worse than in Heaven, or on Earth for that matter.

      August 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      God created hell, but he also sent us tornados and cancers and other horrible diseases to tor-ture us in our present lives when we do anything at all that's bad.

      In any humane modern court, that would be double punishment. But god can do it because, well, he's an as-shole.


      August 21, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  2. Faith

    All decent academia started and got maintained in the Christendom to study the Bible. Any academia may find more about the world but it's only Christians who gives meaning to life and save human lives. Christian missionaries are the best humans.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Arjun

      Not always. Just like corporate wants to increase profits, Missionaries do anything even if it is immoral for increasing christian numbers. I have seen many such cases in India at least.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • playboy millionaire

      Christian missionaries are pathetic fat losers that take advantage of alter boys.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      With all due respect, please stop posting blatant falsehoods:

      "All decent academia started and got maintained in the Christendom to study the Bible":
      What about Arabic, Greek, and Chinese (to name a few non-Christian societies) contributions to math, logic, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, art, law, language, etc?

      "Any academia may find more about the world but it's only Christians who gives meaning to life and save human lives.":
      So all doctors, nurses, surgeons, firefighters, police, lifeguards, and all other members of life-saving professions are Christians by definition? Secondly, there is only one "academia"; it's a category, not a person. The word you are looking for is the noun "academic".

      " Christian missionaries are the best humans.":
      So, let's talk about smallpox-infested blankets, Cortez and his conquistadors, India, Jerusalem, the Crusades, Mexico, Florida, Cuba, Native Americans, and let's not forget the great Inquisition(s)...clearly, the "best humans" condoned disease warfare, torture, and the extermination of entire indigenous peoples. Best of humanity indeed.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • swingstar73

      Wow, faith, you are quite the bigot.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Dave

      Yeah because they treated the Native Americans and Africans so well when they evangelized them! Turn or burn Pocahontas!

      August 12, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Amused

      They are certainly the most SELF RIGHTEOUS !

      August 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  3. Lori

    I wonder what the results would have been had they discounted divinity degrees?

    August 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Lori – it might surprise you to learn that many of those with "divinity degrees" are among the bigest Doubting Thomases.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Jim

      Lori & RR,

      RR is correct being in the academic circles for a qhile. Of course, degrees don't really mean much anymore either but that is a different subject but the connection is that most who get a M Div or D Min or other advanced degree usually have less foundational knowledge and work mainly in and off of a theory. The problem is the working off a theory that one has not tested through foundational knowledge and examination of the theory is a recipe for less understanding. Unfortunately, most with advanced degrees in religious studies don't have the foundational knowledge in order to know if the theory is junk or not. This can easily lead to quite a few different problems but one is the phenomena RR stated.

      August 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  4. petercha

    There are some comments in here that seem to indicate that religion and science are more or less diametrically opposed, that is to say, you can't believe both at the same time. I would argue the opposite – I, for one, am a religious person: I believe in God, I believe that He created the universe, and I believe in the Bible. I also am a avid follower of science. I accept most, if not all, scientific findings as fact or at least as a plausible theory, until more data comes in and is analyzed. I even have my own telescope, rock collection, and taught Earth and Space science at one time. Some folks say that there are contradictions between science and the Bible, but that basically boils down to their ignorance of what the Bible says. For example, many non-believers seem to think that the Bible says that the Earth has only been here for about 6,000 years. I've read the entire Bible 8 times, and I have yet to see a verse that says anything like that. So science and religion live quite comfortably side-by-side in my mind.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Sally

      Petercha- you will not see in the Bible a quote stating that "the earth is only 6,000 years old".

      In order to find that, what you have to do is follow the lineage of the people in the Bible from Adam on down, up until the point of Jesus's birth/death which of course starts the modern-day calendar.

      The Bible very, very specifically tells you who is descended from whom, and how long they lived, and how many descendents THEY had, and so on. You must add the numbers up to get the 6,000 year figure. Trust me, it's there.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Godfrey

      Peter: the Bible provides lineage from Adam to Moses to Jesus. This is where people get the 6000-year-old Earth thing. Also, that is espoused by creationists, not by non-believers. Non-believers are only responding to what is obviously idiocy.

      I appreciate your efforts to reconcile science and the Bible, but you are wrong when you say they can live "side by side". The fact is, one is a reliable source of knowledge, the other is not.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Mark from Canada

      Based on what you have written here – you don't even know what a theory is. Hence, I can hardly accept your argument that you are following science through your distorted lens – how could you even understand it?

      August 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • playboy millionaire

      Yes. You are dumb. And that is why you believe the bible is compatible with modern science.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Carl

      The 6k logic is fairly sound, IF you believe that the bible is literally and perfectly true. If, instead, you think it is a mash-up of traditional word-of-mouth stories forced to fit into a continuous narrative, then you can doubt the extensive claims of lineage.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • sassypants

      The bible also says a day is like a thousand years.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Dave

      petercha is correct, and all of you claiming the lineage thing indicates that the BIBLE is saying the universe is 6,000, or 8,000, or even 10,000 years old are flat out wrong. I suggest you read the Bible (again if you have already). This time, look for where the Bible directly states that noone else exists but those that come through the lineage you'll find in Numbers (I think that is the book). That is the problem with non-beleivers and a lot of believers. The failure to recognize that the majority of what the Bible speaks is the story of 'his chosen people'.

      This might better be pointed out by saying "In that the Bible doesn't explicitly state there are or are not 'aliens', does NOT mean the do or don't exist"

      August 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Frogist

      Hi petercha.
      I actually agree with you! I don't think science and the bible are diametrically opposed unless you want them to be. Religion's primary personal goal is supposed to be to impart moral teachings and spiritual or emotional soothing which is very different from the purpose of science which is to explore and explain the world around us. But besides that religion is a very malleable thing. It can fit into any space. That is precisely why specific traditions like Christianity have lasted as long as they have! You can't pin it down. It is constantly changing and has so many loopholes that it is very hard to completely dispel it. You can interpret the Bible in any way you want, chopping it up, rearranging it, so it suits your needs. Science and religion never have to actually meet in any way that's completely disruptive to either.
      Also just to clarify, few non-believers I think really try to discredit the bible by claiming the 6000yr old age issue is actually in there. Our complaint is that creationists who buy into that interpretation should not try to pretend that's science in any way.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Dave

      I don't know about you but if a 33 year old single dude and twelve other guys told me to follow him and we'd fish for men I'd run the other way. Just sayin'

      August 12, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Jim


      Geneologies in history do not always and are not required to contain all the names down the family tree – even in the Hebraic tradition. Although one can add up the biblical data, nowhere does God through His word declare that the geneologies are 100% complete. There is quite a bit of room there for more than 6000 years. One will find no ancient Hebraic requirement for a complete geneology from today to the beginning according to Jewish law and regulation.

      August 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  5. dina

    This has got to be a right wing born again religious republican who gathered this information. How can a more educated person believe in an invisible and mythical form of thinking? I would have to see some strong statistical proof that this could possibly be true. It appears that most of these religious right wingers are a bit under educated, but I am not the social scientist so where's the proof? What difference does it make anyway.? Religion breeds power mad people who think only one way and want everyone to think the way they do. It cause more problems than it solves.If there is an existing concept of a god,religions has killed it.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • petercha

      Seems to me, Dina, that you are the one who wants everyone to think the same way you do.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • GB

      I have put a lot of thought into the subject. I am fairly educated, but never got a masters. Still I am highly self educated.

      I have gone from have total faith, to having doubts, to not believing and then back again. For all sorts of reasons. There are things in my life that just seem to convenient for coincidence. Einstein's belief that the energy inside of us never ceases to exist. Seeing the birth of my kids, and a million other miracles that have happened. But I have read the bible and much of it does make no sense, or often reads comparative to that of some of the fables I read my kids, leaving me to think "really?"

      As of now, I believe. But I am always searching for answers.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ GB – well-said. I have an undergrad degree in religious studies, and I am currently working on a PhD in comparative religion. I have gone back-and-forth with my belief. I definitely do believe there is a power or spirit in the universe that is greater than we are. Do He/She/It (God?) answer prayers? Not sure. But can we expereince or attune ourselves to this power? I do believe that. But "God" is not who we have been taught my most Abrahamic religions – in fact, they all toally missed the mark of who God really is, and His effect on our lives.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Lin

      "Religion breeds power mad people who think only one way and want everyone to think the way they do." But dina, I constantly see atheists on boards like this one who do exactly same thing, ridiculing believers for not thinking the same way they do, disparaging their intelligence, calling them names, demanding that people who believe in God be banned from holding public office, and prophetically proclaiming and anticipating that the day will come when religion is wiped off the planet.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • swingstar73

      Gb – I don't think having kids really has anything to do with coincidence or purpose, the way you put it. I think you've bought into the way the religious have framed the situation, linguistically. When it comes to miracles, one shouldn't trust in the idea of the miracle unless it would be even more miraculous if the event didn't happen. Otherwise, what is the value of it being a 'miracle'?

      August 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • me

      Dina's response is closed-minded and arrogant. I always say it takes a closed-minded lack of intelligence to outright deny the possibility of God. As a member of multiple high IQ societies, (that admit based on actual intelligence and NOT "education,") I spend quite a bit of time with people who are far more intelligent than the average person and the large majority of them are open-minded enough to choose agnosticism over atheism. I don't correlate education with intelligence because these days because any idiot can earn a degree and become "educated" without having enough intelligence to use an education, but I do correlate closed-minded, dogmatic behavior with a lack of reasoning skills and intelligence. This includes Bible thumpers who cannot think for themselves, but it also includes arrogant atheists who aren't open to thinking about the subject.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  6. Arael

    How do these people pass any of the science class if all they write is God did it?

    August 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Arjun

      Similar to what you say about how a car works? You write in detail about car mechanics. The other person says it was made by Toyota Honda etc.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Johnny

      They wouldn't pass a science course, obviously.

      But if you think that "God did it" is the only answer available to a religious individual, you are allowing bigotry to cloud your perception. I encourage you to spend more time learning about the people you apparently look down upon.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Maxine

      You believe the earth created itself. Name one other thing that created itself.

      August 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Jim

      It is obvious that Arjun is the ignorant & prejudiced one.

      August 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  7. Monty

    BS... if by educated you mean grade school education.. then maybe. But people with college degree and most university professors tend to be atheists.

    In fact studies have shown that the higher the IQ the less likely someone is to be religious.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • NC

      I agree!

      August 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Johnny


      Produce these studies, and we can have an academic debate regarding their merits. Absent evidence, it sounds as though you are just perpetuating the stereotypes that the article identified.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • me

      Typical. Every time I see these idiotic assumptions, I cringe because actual intelligent people are not really how the lower level leftists would like to portray. My IQ is in the 99.9th percentile and I'm working on a PhD, so that means I fit your example. I'm more intelligent than 999 out of 1000 people, and I surround myself with other people at a high level. Most of my high IQ friends, (and I'm not talking a piddly 130 or even 140 IQ here,) believe in God in some manner, or at least claim agnosticism. Very few of them cling to atheism because it takes a closed-mind to rule out anything that hasn't been disproven. I find that slightly "educated," barely above average people love atheism because they pretentiously think it makes them seem smart, but in reality, the truly intelligent people tend to be more libertarian and open to possibilities.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  8. Faith

    Europeans caused two world wars because of humanism. Humanism was defeated in the both wars. Now USA is following the worse stupidity – blasphemy and immorality.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Aezel

      Do you lay awake at night to think up what you can lie about the next day or do you just think of BS off the top of your head?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • petercha

      I think Faith has a point here. Sad to say, America has strayed away from good morals as evidenced by the legalization of abortion and same-gender marriage.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • playboy millionaire

      You are fat, poor and ignorant. Correct me if I'm wrong.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Frogist

      @petercha: We obviously have a very different interpretation of what "good morals" are. Gov't control of a person's body and preventing people from having equal rights are pretty bad morals as far as I'm concerned.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • JC

      What history book did you read that in? Didn't the Nazis wear the inscription God With Us on their belts?

      August 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  9. TheBuckStopsHere

    Hopefully, most of the regular CNN posters will read this article.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Big Difference

      Educated is not the same as intelligence... Just because you memorize gameshow trivia doesn't mean your smarter then the guy asking you the questions... Article = Null and void

      August 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  10. Margo

    I am amazed at how misleading the headline is, and can only conclude that the report, and the study are deliberately muddled to confuse people. Here is the real significance of the findings of the study:
    "“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."
    The fact is, educated people tend to be LESS religious, just as we've all seen IRL.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • barabbas2010

      The most likely scenario to explain the results of this study is that many educated people find it personally and professionally advantageous to attend religious services as a way to network with their peers and be seen as belonging to the community.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Pete

      Not so. I work at Stanford. Largest Catholic attendance at any secular university plus about 800 evangelical Christians plus Mormons and others. Here's a take on what is really going on -

      What Scientists Really Think By Elaine Howard Ecklund Oxford Univ. 228 pp. $27.95

      Sunday, May 30, 2010

      "...Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund offers a fresh perspective on this debate in "Science vs. Religion." Rather than offering another polemic, she builds on a detailed survey of almost 1,700 scientists at elite American research universities - the most comprehensive such study to date. These surveys and 275 lengthy follow-up interviews reveal that scientists often practice a closeted faith. They worry how their peers would react to learning about their religious views.

      "Fully half of these top scientists are religious. Only five of the 275 interviewees actively oppose religion. Even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves "spiritual." One describes this spiritual atheism as being rooted in "wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence," a sentiment many nonscientists - religious or not - would recognize. By not engaging with religion more fully and publicly, "the academy is really doing itself a big disservice," worries one scientist. As shown by conflicts over everything from evolution to stem cells to climate policy, breakdowns in communication between scientists and religious communities cause real problems, especially for scientists trying to educate increasingly religious college students."

      August 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Pete: Just a quick note. I think the definition used for "spirituality" is pretty broad and doesn't actually encompass a supernatural factor which is where it differs from full-blown religion. I think most of us have a fascination with the world around us. That doesn't mean we define ourselves as spiritual, religious or having a belief in god. I do agree that scientists etc would do themselves a favor by learning to express that emotional attachment to the world and how it inspires them. It would make the theories and information they are trying to impart much more relatable.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • JC


      About 5 to 10% of the US population is atheist. So, if 30% of Stanford scientist are atheist that would seem to confirm that more education, at least in the sciences, leads to less religiosity.

      August 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  11. Hypatia

    This depends entirely upon one's criiteria for 'education'.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • YBP

      I doubt very highly that this "education" includes chemistry, biology, archeology, sociology, mythology and history. It wasn't too long ago that CNN revealed that atheists know more about the Bible and religion than the religious do. That can only come from education. So, which is it CNN?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Pete

      Not so. Read this:
      What Scientists Really Think By Elaine Howard Ecklund Oxford Univ. 228 pp. $27.95

      Sunday, May 30, 2010

      "...Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund offers a fresh perspective on this debate in "Science vs. Religion." Rather than offering another polemic, she builds on a detailed survey of almost 1,700 scientists at elite American research universities - the most comprehensive such study to date. These surveys and 275 lengthy follow-up interviews reveal that scientists often practice a closeted faith. They worry how their peers would react to learning about their religious views.

      "Fully half of these top scientists are religious. Only five of the 275 interviewees actively oppose religion. Even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves "spiritual." One describes this spiritual atheism as being rooted in "wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence," a sentiment many nonscientists - religious or not - would recognize. By not engaging with religion more fully and publicly, "the academy is really doing itself a big disservice," worries one scientist. As shown by conflicts over everything from evolution to stem cells to climate policy, breakdowns in communication between scientists and religious communities cause real problems, especially for scientists trying to educate increasingly religious college students."

      August 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  12. playboy millionaire

    The bible is the third worst thing that has happened to man kind, losing only to the invention of the atom bomb and World War II. Probably a tie between the bible and WWI though.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • YBP

      Actually, when one considers the fact that most of Germany's army was comprised of god-fearing Catholics and Lutherans, one might easily argue that St. Mark's Passion Narrative, particularly as re-written by Saint Matthew in the Bible contributed profoundly to the Final Solution of WWII. In fact, there are books on this subject.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  13. Peter

    I am a highly educated individual. I used to go to church because Christian women give it up to anyone who they think believes in God without a second thought.

    Does that count?

    August 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • barabbas2010

      Amen Brother !!!!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      You may think that making it to the 5th grade means you are "educated", but that is your own delusion.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Peter

      Don't hate me and my graduate degrees because religious girls are easy.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • playboy millionaire

      That's why priests get any boy they want.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Sal

      Best post of the day!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  14. barabbas2010

    I am quite happy that religion attracts a certain types of people that might, absent the fear of eternal pain, be unable to control themselves in the presence of others.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  15. Kim

    Nice try bible thumpers. The most religious people I know have the IQ of a rock.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      That's because you lack the knowledge of anyone who is religious.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • frank

      And what do you mean by 'Most Religious"?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • J.W

      The study did not say that every religious person is smart.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Henry

      Both could be true. Highly educated people could be more religious but that doesn't mean that the majority of religious people are not high school drop outs or that high school drop outs.

      This study is purely about a process called 'creaming'. It doesn't look at trends of all religious people only the trends of highly educated people. I would guess that the average person who is religious has, at best, the same education level as the non-religious.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • frank

      Kim: Read "The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by: Lee Strobel, or something similar, if you would like to have an educated discussion about faith.

      Or, you can just concede you are an uninformed bigot and we can discount your comments as the babblings of a child.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • YBP

      Is that the same rock "on which I will build my church?"

      But seriously, you're right. Religion thrives on ignornace, fear, self-loathing, bigotry and violence. We should be well beyond these primal urges at this stage of th game. Unfortunately we are not.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Aezel

      LOL! Lee Strobel. Yeah sorry to say, there is nothing in the Bible worth having a "serious" discussion about. The historical man named Jesus may have existed, but he was nothing more than a good salesman. The fact remains, there is not ONE shred of credible evidence that any magical men in the sky exist.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • YBP

      Frank: Read Honest To Jesus by Robert Funk. It's one of the best books out there that puts your so-called faith in some kind of reasonable perspective without tearing up completely. You might also like Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. They, too, have a profound understanding of your religion, and yet somehow convince themselves that it is still relevant. I, however. remain unconvinced.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Kim – you hit the nail on the head. In my personal experience, there is a direct inverse correlation between a person's intelligence and the likelihood that they affiliate with any organized religion.

      The bible is a fairytale to keep insecure, hopeless people from throwing in the towel.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Molly

      Frank: You are embarrassing yourself. Stop using the word "bigot." You are just coming off as dumb.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • me

      Funny, because nearly all of the high IQ people I know wouldn't be closed-minded enough to make this assumption.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  16. Garry

    The only thing i can say is this article is BS!

    August 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      Wow.... with such convincing evidence and illuminating insight, I'm surprised that CNN didn't allow you to post your "opinion" as an article. Try MSNBC.... they post your kind of idiotic, factless blather as "news" all the time.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • frank

      Gary: BS - because you believe that they invented the data? Like the faked poll that suggested that IE users had a lower IQ than Chrome users?

      Or BS because you disagree but have no real basis to make that statement other than your bigoted opinions?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • YBP

      You don't need a scientific study to observe who the religious people are, as opposed to those who appeal to science and reason. You're absolutely right, Garry, despite the brevity and crudeness of your statement.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  17. Faith

    The Religious(Christians) are better-looking and dress better as well. They are also the safest to be around with. They don't fall in love easily. Christians are also very clean and disciplined, because they have purposes. – From my own experiences in America.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • CallHim Jmmanuel

      even more ridiculolus statements coming from a "true christian". Faith your completely b.s. i'll troll you as long as you keep making ridiculous statements that you have had. your christian values match nothing of what you preach. i thought you were supposed to love all but your post beg to differ.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • bananaspy

      You do realize that some of the most ghetto neighborhoods in America are comprised of solely Christians. African Americans aren't well known for being atheists. If you want to try to pretend every Christian is your typical middle-class, white American who feeds the homeless and raises his kids, you are mistaken by a long shot.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • JC

      US prisons are filled with Christians, not atheists. Atheists make up 5 to 10% of the US population but only one fifth of one percent of the prison population according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

      August 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • me

      JC: atheists are the minority in prison because they are the minority in general. Now if the nation were mostly atheist and prisons were mostly religious, you'd have more of a point, but as of now, your statement is meaningless.

      Faith has a point. While there are a fair share of redneck fundamentalists, there are a good number of Christians who take pride in being clean, well-behaved people. I've noticed that mainstream Mormons in particular place a very high value on education, good behavior, clean and neat appearance and advancement.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  18. Asklepios417

    “Do we think that anybody who doesn’t agree with us is an idiot or a fool?"

    No, I'm willing to concede that some of them are mildly retarded.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • frank

      And so, you prove the point that smart people can behave in a very stupid manner.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  19. Faith

    The Bible satisfies the highest intelligence of mankind and goes far beyond that. But it also says, educated or uneducated, one needs a child-like faith in the God-sent Savior to receive every good thing God intends for a human being. Such trust is the mark of the true honest creatures as we should be. Secular Americans are too puffed up ignorantly. I think hell means missing out the heaven because of pride. Read C.S. Lewis.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Arjun

      Childlike faith means negating use of your brain at all. I am not a Christan. But I believe that all religions have some element of truth, If not everything they say is truth. Recently I was reading about rapture concept. It sounded so ridiculous. So I wanted to find out if the bible really says that. It is all started by some people in 1800's. All their evidence is one word from bible they interpreted.
      But now most people believe it to part of Christian religion. But they have not used their intelligence given by God. Why would give people brain, if it is not to be used at all (other than memorizing scriptures).

      August 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • JC

      Have you read the Bible cover to cover or only the good parts? Read all of it and see if you still think that.

      August 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  20. Faith

    Also, the religious(Christians) produces the eternally best music and art and literature. The thought of God in the Judeo-Christian context alone explodes with the mastery of human creativity in the most meaningful way. This planet has meaning only because of Christianity.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • CallHim Jmmanuel

      that's a far fetched statement Faith. So the purpose of religion is to prove which one is better or more real than all others. Christians, Jews, Muslims, may be more educated based off statistics, but true geniuses get over the religious nonsense hump. "this planet only has meaning because of Christianity" lol, so what are the purposes of the other planets in the solar system?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Ozzy

      That's a ridi-culous notion, the reason there has been so much religious art and music throughout history is because The Church was wealthy enough for pay for those works to be created, where as the common people, who provided the wealth to the Church, were too busy working and slaving away to enjoy things like art, music, and architecture. Does anyone honestly think that if there was a Christ, that the Vatican was what he had in mind?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Faith

      Only the thought of God in Christ inspires the human spirits and brings the best out of humans even in all art.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • YBP

      The iconograhy that you are crediting to Christianity is actually entirely pagan in nature. Take your blinders off. Look into.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Faith

      No, it's a creativity dedicated to the God of Christianity. Art in Christendom is different from those of pagans.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • munkittrick

      A.) Christians DO NOT produce the "eternally best" music, art and literature. That's a ludicrous statement and has NO bearing in fact. Steven Spielberg...not Christian. The Beetles...not Christian. Andy Warhol...not Christian. There are hundreds of thousands of other relevant creatives to mention, but that disproves 99% of your assertion immediately.

      B.) There is NO obvious ties from the Christian faith that even hints at your assertion. People are inherently curious. We live to create, and vice-versa....but not in any religious context. Humans are creatures that find joy in making something out of nothing. Take our creation of a "god" to satisfy the void of things that we may never know in our lives. For many, religion fills that unanswerable question.

      C.) This planet has meaning because WE'RE ON IT...PERIOD!

      When man first ventured past the boundless gravity that this spinning clump of dirt is, we saw something marvelous; OURSELVES. Never in human history has any stronger proof of a lack of "god" been made. Instead of an aimless marble in the blackness, we know we're one of many spinning rocks in our galaxy. Beyond that, we're learning day-by-day. When a human being arbitrarily commits their mind to the belief that we're just puppets of a higher order of being, science dictates that there MUST exist others like us....maybe trillions or worlds like ours. We may very well live in a cluster of lint between the toes of a cosmically huge wildebeest who is hosted by an even larger being, who is hosted by a larger being....and so on. It's a common error on the part of humanity to try and create something to fill the void that we are doomed to feel until we exit this life. Beyond the reality you see, there is but additional confusion and deeper questions. Frankly, it's insulting that anyone would claim that there must be a higher order of beings to validate our existence. We exist, therefore any further definition can, and should only be admitted with the prerequisite truth that science has proven to be necessary for every other thing we've added to the list of "mystery solved". In retrospect, religion has killed more people that it can ever hope to save. Christians, creative or otherwise claim a band of honor to say that you "know god" or know that he exists. That too is a huge mistake and an incredibly large error in our being.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Carl

      The problem with a lot of the religious art supposedly showing the power of religion is that much of it only holds special appeal if you are religious. A religious person might be moved by the image of God and Adam, but otherwise it's just a picture of two guys touching fingers.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • swingstar73

      As an atheist musician and music teacher, I resent your comment, faith. You have no intellectual merit.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Patrick

      Stop feeding the trolls! Isn't it obvious, Faith is a troll and attempting to get everyone riled up with his/her rhetoric.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • JC

      They produced that music and art because they were paid to do it by nobles who wanted to show off their religiosity.

      August 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
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About this blog

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.