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September 14th, 2013
08:01 AM ET

Hey atheists, let’s make a deal

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - Famed atheist Richard Dawkins has been rightfully criticized this week for saying the “mild pedophilia” he and other English children experienced in the 1950s “didn’t cause any lasting harm.”

This comes after an August tweet in which Dawkins declared that “all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

Dawkins is known for pushing his provocative rhetorical style too far, providing ample ammunition for his critics, and already I’ve seen my fellow Christians seize the opportunity to rail against the evils of atheism.

As tempting as it is to classify Dawkins’ views as representative of all atheists, I can’t bring myself to do it.

I can’t bring myself to do it because I know just how frustrating and unfair it is when atheists point to the most extreme, vitriolic voices within Christianity and proclaim that they are representative of the whole.

So, atheists, I say we make a deal: How about we Christians agree not to throw this latest Richard Dawkins thing in your face and you atheists agree not to throw the next Pat Robertson thing in ours?

Now I’m not saying we just let these destructive words and actions go—not at all. It’s important for both believers and atheists to decry irresponsible views and hateful rhetoric, especially from within our own communities.

(Believe me. There are plenty of Christians who raise hell every time Robertson says something homophobic or a celebrity pastor somewhere says something misogynistic.)

READ MORE: Why millennials are leaving the church

But what if we resist the urge to use the latest celebrity gaffe as an excuse to paint one another with broad brushes?

What if, instead of engaging the ideas of the most extreme and irrational Christians and atheists, we engaged the ideas of the most reasonable, the most charitable, the most respectful and respected?

Only then can we avoid these shallow ad hominem attacks and instead engage in substantive debates that bring our true differences and our true commonalities to light.

It’s harder to go this route, and it takes more work and patience, but I’m convinced that both Christians and atheists are interested in the truth and in searching for it with integrity, without taking the easy way out.

Pope Francis took a step in that direction this week with a letter in a Rome newspaper responding directly to questions posed by its atheist director and inviting respectful open dialog between nonbelievers and Christians.

READ MORE: Why millennials need the church

So, yes, Richard Dawkins is an atheist. But so are authors Greg Epstein and Susan Jacoby. So is my friend and fellow blogger Hemant Mehta. So is Sir Ian McKellen. So is ethicist Peter Singer, who may or may not be the best example.

And yes, Pat Robertson is a Christian. But so is Nelson Mandela. So is acclaimed geneticist Francis Collins. So is Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. So is Barack Obama. So is Stephen Colbert.

And I'm willing to bet that the same collective groan emitted by millions of Christians each time Pat Robertson says something embarrassing on TV sounds a lot like the collective groan emitted by millions of atheists when Richard Dawkins rants on Twitter.

Still, in the end, it’s not about who has the most charismatic or generous personalities in their roster, nor about who has the most “crazies.” It’s about the truth.

So let’s talk about the truth, and with the people who most consistently and graciously point us toward it.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" and "Evolving in Monkey Town." Evans blogs at rachelheldevans.com, and the views expressed in this column belong to her.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (5,916 Responses)
  1. M.A.P.

    She can keep her deal. I as an atheist DO agree with everything Richard Dawkins is saying above. She only finds it offensive because it points out her own hypocracies and stupidity. If she wants to deny what some extreme evangelists say that's fine, but they ARE preaching what is written in that book she loves so much. She can't deny the hate that is written in that book.

    September 20, 2013 at 6:34 am |
  2. Maja

    I don't make unenforceable deals with fantasists.

    September 20, 2013 at 3:28 am |
  3. John

    Deviants? Most prison inmates and chile abusers are X-tian. Beyond their per capita representation in the population.

    September 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Peter Paul

      Ey John, I think you're lying. Unless, you could provide testable figures with reliable source(s).

      September 20, 2013 at 12:44 am |
      • alandeon2

        @Peter

        John was NOT lying. Athiests make up one of the smallest percentage of inmates in the prison system. I believe that we are only beat out by people who are "memonite"

        Look it up yourself. We can lead you to the truth but finding it yourself is a much bigger reward and you deserve to know the truth, don't you?

        Now go do your homework then come back and apologize to John for calling him a liar.

        September 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • John

        Here you go, one who named after TWO of the Apostles.
        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/16/what-percentage-of-prisoners-are-atheists-its-a-lot-smaller-than-we-ever-imagined/

        October 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
  4. Kelly

    Whoever wrote this article definitely does not like Christians! Talk about acceptance and tolerance! I'll be praying for you Pal!! I really hope you come to know My Lord & Savior Jesus Christ who created you!

    September 19, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Are you sure you're commenting on the right article? First of all, "whoever" wrote it is at the top of the page. That "pals" name is Rachel Held Evans and she is a Christian. So apparently you guys share the same lord & savior jesus christ of nazareth, blessed be his name for all time and eternity, spectacular and infinite with a cherry on top.

      September 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  5. aallen333

    If you deny God because you cannot explain His existence, you will then need to deny yourself because you have no more reason to exist.

    September 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      If apples grow on trees, then oranges couldn't possibly grow on trees as well.

      September 19, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • John

      I am OK with no originating reason. It was because two people interacted. No plan beyond that. But I now exist. I get to decide the reason.

      September 19, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
      • 10centsworth

        Or NOT. Perhaps these christians praying and hoping for the end of the world, in THEIR lifetime, should realize they are NOW in heaven.
        Look around you. Look at this wonderful world. Quit eating the fruit of your doom.

        September 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Peter

      I deny god, because HE cannot explain his existence.

      September 20, 2013 at 4:42 am |
      • John

        YOU have no reason for me to exist. And this fine. You don't matter. Now me, I don't need an originating reason. But now that I am here, there are some people who think I have a reason. They matter to me. I MADE my reason.

        October 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Sorry but you don't get to make that judgement, not everyone shares your belief and not everyone is so gullible. It is you who is so certain that you're living this life only so you can meet your imaginary friend after, so it would seem you are the one without reason to exist.

      September 20, 2013 at 5:30 am |
    • Kevin

      Amen aallen333!

      September 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I deny YOUR God because you cannot give any evidence of its existence...

      September 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Steen

      I deny bigots. The reason Christians are getting flack is that, despite the protestations, some many Christians love sin, because it gives them sinners to hate.

      September 21, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  6. really?

    what a sad way to twist the words.. equating an individual's personal story to his stance about something in general. The author is very arrogant and conceited in her tone and keeps making back handed remarks about how she is better than the others. she can take her drivel and shove it up her a..

    from a non-atheist

    September 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • BB

      Also, in her mind, somehow, one person's one remark is equal to thousands of years of bigotry they showed. Only in her mind!

      September 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  7. 66Biker

    I'll make a deal with both of you... Stay away from my door, and I won't slam it in your face.

    September 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Lisa

      Have you ever heard of an atheist going door-to-door?

      September 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
      • alandeon2

        Yeah, I guess I could just knock on doors handing out blank pieces of paper asking people to read up on my belief system... 😉

        September 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  8. Brian Green Adams

    Dawkins did not say that mild child molestation does not cause lasting harm, he said it did not for him. The fact that he admitted this very personal story and DID NOT blame religion or the priest who did it, shows he is honest and forthcoming.

    Watch his pleasant and respectful discussion with the Archbishop of Canterbury if you want to know about his character.

    This issue has nothing to do with whether or not a god exists or the truth of the matter.

    Listing good and bad atheists and Christians does nothing to help the discussion or relationship.

    September 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  9. Mike D

    No deal. You cannot fairly compare Dawkins to Pat "Blood Diamond" Robertson.

    September 19, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  10. smh

    What on earth is 'mild pedophilia'?
    Is that like a mild case of pregnancy?

    September 19, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Lisa

      t's probably the same difference as between copping a feel of a woman's b00b, and dragging her into the bushes. Neither is permitted, but one might be easier to live with than another.

      September 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  11. Nick Gotts

    So, atheists, I say we make a deal: How about we Christians agree not to throw this latest Richard Dawkins thing in your face and you atheists agree not to throw the next Pat Robertson thing in ours?

    No deal. The difference is, when an atheist says something crass or vile, other atheists can (and do) dissociate themselves from it (and if it's bad enough, hir) without reservation, because all we necessarily share as atheists is disbelief in gods; while those of us who also claim to be rationalists (as Dawkins does) have thereby accepted an obligation to criticize those among us who put forward ill-founded claims (as Dawkins has). But Christians share a commitment to a faith – a belief-system which by its very nature, has no reality-check. Robertson has just as much right to his faith-based beliefs as you do to yours, since neither is based on evidence or rational argument, and indeed, this feature is trumpeted as a virtue. When I "throw the next Pat Robertson thing" at Christians in general, it's this lack of a reality-check I'm saying you all share with him, not his particular brand of bigotry.

    September 19, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Hunatic

      This game is as old as time... Using your emotions, especially your fear, against you.
      Atheism is a naturalistic world view and the only clear persistent choice. It is also the best way to fight the pervasive slave-owner relationship the über-rich exert on us the citizenry; by their control of the government, religious dogma, and of course; capitalism. The über-rich, not God, should be held liable for all the ills in our society. They prop up various invisible anthropomorphic deities as chaff to deter us from doing our own thinking. They want us divided, because together we are strong. By instilling the principles of Atheism in any way possible, you propagate Utopia. It’s important that you understand this: Intelligence equals Utopia, idiocy equals Dystopia.
      You just have to prove to the über-rich that they won't lose anything while transitioning society to a new governing paradigm, for instance a post-scarcity resource-based economy. It will take time yes. Eventually all this propped-up faux religion BS will come crashing down as the capitalistic collateral that it truly is.
      It is silly to hold the government, businesses, or religion as the culprits, when really people are to blame.
      Hold the über-rich responsible for current reality to enact change.

      September 19, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  12. artofclasswar

    religion is of man,just more control.noone knows untill their dead.i think anyone who talks to god takes the voices in their head to serious.

    September 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  13. Every atheist who posts on the CNN Belief Board is looking for God

    Keep searching

    September 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Many have been for thousands of years, so far not one shred of evidence for God. I as an atheist keep an open mind though, some day we might find evidence for something someone will define as God, until then I will keep waiting. Not a single religion on the planet has been able to prove God let alone their brand so I am not buying any of them regardless of the current religious fashion trend.

      September 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
      • Reason

        To disregard these sources based solely on the religious or political beliefs of the scientist is to disregard ALL scientist. If there's no evidence of bias, don't suggest it.

        Here's some reliable sources to counter your none:

        If there is a God, there is some reason to expect that he will create a universe, with laws of nature, leading to the evolution of humans (bodies connected to souls), who often have experiences which seem to them experiences of God. It is most impossible that all this evidence exists if there were no God. Taken together, therefore, all this evidence makes it probable that there is a God. – By these criteria, the existence and operation of God provides the best and most probably true explanation of the existence of the universe, it being governed by simple laws of nature — these laws (and the boundary conditions of the universe) being as such to lead to the evolution of humans, human consciousness, occasional miracles, and the religious experiences of millions of humans. – The Existence of God by Richard G. Swinburne (Philosopher of Religion, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford)

        But what of the New Atheists’ atheism – their belief that there is no god or other divine reality? According to evidentialism, that belief (with whatever degree of confidence it is held) also requires evidence in order to be rational. However, the New Atheists tend not to worry much about providing evidence. – Where’s the Evidence by Michael Antony (Philosophy of Religion, Department of Philosophy at the University of Haifa)

        Despite widespread beliefs to the contrary within the secular intellectual culture of the modern academy, scientific findings are not necessarily incompatible with religious truth claims. The latter include claims about the reality of God as understood in traditional Christianity and the possibility of divinely worked miracles. Intellectual history, philosophy, and science’s own self-understanding undermine the claim that science entails or need even tend toward atheism. – God, Science, and Historical Explanation / No Room for God? History, Science, Metaphysics, and the Study of Religion by Brad S. Gregory (The Dorothy G. Griffin Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Notre Dame)

        September 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
        • Phelix Unger

          If, really. You call yourself Reason and begin with if, if the dog hadn't have stopped to take a crap, he would've caught the rabbit. A cult is just that a cult and this is what relgion is, heavens gate anyone? Don't forget the cool shoes. Jimmy Jones has some special koo-laid for you.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          “Reason”,

          Wow, you truly are delusional aren’t you? Thinking that “godidit” is that most reasonable and logical explanation for the biggest questions in nature is not only WRONG but intellectually lazy. Thinking that you have the answers when you obviously don’t only makes you stop looking for answers.

          September 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "If there is a God, there is some reason to expect that he will create a universe, with laws of nature, leading to the evolution of humans (bodies connected to souls), who often have experiences which seem to them experiences of God."

          Wow, this one had be laughing out loud. So tell me "Reason", does it also stand that if there are leprechauns, then there would be some reason to expect rainbows would appear, right? lol, you cannot make a claim for God attributing to him all you see and then say "See, all this stuff is proof of God...!" That is one Professor who wasted an education.

          "According to evidentialism, that belief also requires evidence in order to be rational. " Again, total lack of logic and reason here. Atheism takes no proof, because an atheist is not the one that is making a claim for God. The religious make the claim and have yet to provide any evidence for their claim. I could claim that Rockbiter from Neverending Story is real if you allow the kind of evidence the religious allow. See, I have a bag full of rocks so, and Rockbiter eats rocks, therefore he must be real, right?

          "scientific findings are not necessarily incompatible with religious truth claims." Not true. Geology debunks the global flood theory, our DNA debunks the Adam and Eve story and the fossil record and our interbreeding with neanderthals debunks the premise and genealogy found in Genesis.

          September 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
        • Lisa

          Reason
          All you're basically saying is that, because we can imagine a God, think that one is there, that is evidence that there must be a God.

          September 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • lathebiosas

          Why do you call yourself "Reason". There is absolutely no reason in anything you said.

          "If there is a God, there is some reason to expect that he will create a universe, with laws of nature, leading to the evolution of humans (bodies connected to souls)".

          Why is there a REASON to expect that? It's all a non starter. You use fake "logic" to sound logical to woo in people of TRUE reason. But we're not as dumb as your blind faith compatriots my friend.

          September 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
        • John

          What are you talking about? Delusions are imprinted upon us as children. They will perpetuate if you raise that delusion beyond observable phenomena. Santa vs. God. Then you fill in the "proof" needed with magic.

          September 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I admit that I am still looking for evidence of god. The more I look, the less likely the idea becomes, but I still hold out the possibility of a god, even if such a possibility is highly improbable. Should evidence prove the existence of god, then that would be reality and I would accept it. However, just because a god exists, doesn't mean we should worship and subjugate ourselves to that god. Have some self-respect.

      September 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • Shaggy

        I am an Atheist. I do admit there is a possibility of a God or Gods existing, but given the existing evidence and completely illogical basis of all religions, I find it so incredibly unlikely that I would lump it in with the possibility that gravity doesn't exist. There could just be "intelligent falling" where angels grab anything you drop and drag it to the ground. But until that is proven clearly I'm going to stick with my beliefs that there are no Gods and that gravity exists.

        And the difference between Dawkins and a religious figure like Robertson is that Dawkins is not looked to in order to determine the dogma of a Faith. Robertson is. If Dawkins says something, there is no additional weight that other Atheists should ascribe to it other than that which they would to any other notable author or thinker. For a member of Robertson's congregations, he is interpreting God's will for them. They are supposed to weigh his opinions more highly than anyone but their God. Comparing them is a false equivalency.

        September 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • GodFreeNow

          Agree completely.

          September 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Lisa

      People posting about atheism on a belief board is as natural as people posting about Democrats on a GOP board. If you don't like dissenting voices there are numerous Christian-only sites that will eagerly ban anyone expressing the slightest doubt, or offering the tiniest bit of criticism of the faith.

      September 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • John

      I am looking for fools, dangerous ones. So I know what you look like and what you say. Then I can oppose you and defend myself and family.

      September 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  14. Colin

    An atheist making a dela with a believer would be like a doctor making a deal with a disease, a teacher making a deal with ignorance or a scientist making a deal with the unknown. Atheism is freedom from religious superst.ition, a step up. The less intellectually endowed can go on believeing they will live happily ever afterthey die in heaven, but the smater, more self confident of we humans are prepared too accept death like rational adults. We do not need to create fairy tales like little children.

    September 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • U2

      gawd, why you got act just lke the right wing fundys. yuck. please dont ever mention you are an atheist again. it is embarassing

      September 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
      • Colin

        As embaressing as your diction, grammar or spelling? What are you, 8 years old?

        September 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • U2

          no, just on a phone, im 17. how old are you

          September 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
        • 616

          Attacking a person's grammar and spelling Colin? What are you, still in Middle School?
          Try growing up and learn to debate like an adult.

          September 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          As if U2's response to Colin was adult-like, loaded with substance.

          September 19, 2013 at 8:19 am |
        • chieftrainer

          I'm sorry, but if one is going to deride someone else about spelling, it doesn't help your case when you misspell words yourself.

          September 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Sara

      Colin,

      "Atheism is freedom from religious superst.ition, a step up"

      Bo, atheists just don't believe in gods. They can, and often do, believe in plenty of supersti tions, ranging from chi to homeopathy to free will...and even crystal power, the loch ness monster or the ancient powers of Atlantis. Many religious people, including a large number of Buddhist and Scientologist believers are atheists. You are probably refering to materialists some other group?

      September 19, 2013 at 8:01 am |
      • Lisa

        In fairness, a lot, and maybe even most, Christians are apt to believe in other superst itions. Our old youth minister use to sell homeopathic cures as a side line, and I wouldn't be surprised if most Christians don't follow their horoscope, and believe in ghosts too even though neither fits in the belief system.

        September 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
        • Sara

          Non-christian superst tion is high among Christians, but higher among atheists (see Gallup, 2008). Of course if you add Christian supersti tion to the mix the totality is higher for Christians.

          September 19, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  15. Prophecies

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeaYI56lIa8

    Read more http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com

    September 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I wonder how much money has been foolishly cast into the religious Profit seas?

      September 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  16. Jim

    Save The United States of America before it is too late!!!!!!

    saveusa (dot) us

    September 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  17. Prophecies about World War III

    Mother of Salvation: A new, bitter world war will be declared
    Friday, September 6th, 2013

    My dear child, I must, on the instructions of my Son, Jesus Christ, reveal that the wars, which will unfold now, in the Middle East, will herald the great battle, as a new, bitter world war will be declared.

    How this breaks the Sacred Heart of my poor suffering Son. The hatred, which infuses the hearts of those leaders, entrusted with the responsibility of running their countries, by ordinary people, will spread. They will betray their own nations. Millions will be killed and many nations will be involved. You must know that the souls of those who will be murdered and who are innocent of any crime will be saved by my Son.

    The speed of these wars will escalate and no sooner will four parts of the world become involved than the Great War will be announced. Sadly, nuclear weapons will be used and many will suffer. It will be a frightening war, but it will not last long.

    Pray, pray, pray for all the innocent souls and continue to recite my Most Holy Rosary, three times a day, in order to ease the suffering, which will result because of World War III.

    Thank you, my child, for responding to my call. Know that there is great sadness in Heaven at this time and it is with a heavy heart that I bring you this difficult news.

    Your Mother

    Mother of Salvation

    read http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com

    September 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • RC

      Rubbish.

      September 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • ms jackson

      Macrame rosary beads much? Your laughable messiah complex can be purchased at Wallyworld for $9.99 on Black Christmas. Paranoid schizophrenics suffer from similar grandiose delusions, so you're not alone out there. Meanwhile, realists are striving for a better humanity and not more excuses for your horrible behavior based on "faith".

      September 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  18. Reason

    Response Three (Religion & Education):

    Most scholars hypothesize that religion provides a context of social capital in which students reap educational benefit...I find that students whose parents attend religious services...have greater odds of completing high school, and students who attend religious services with parents are almost 40% more likely to finish high school… A number of studies find that greater religiosity is positively associated with various educational outcomes, such as high educational expectations, number of years of schooling completed, degree attainment, on-track performance, and college readiness... – The Role of Parental Religiosity in High School Completion by Charles E. Stokes (Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)

    ...an emerging literature shows a positive effect of religiosity on educational attainment… Religious participation has also been associated with better educational outcomes. Freeman (1986) finds a positive effect of churchgoing on school attendance… Regnerus (2000) reports that participation in religious activities is related to better test scores and heightened educational expectations...Muller and Ellison (2001) find positive effects of various measures of religious involvement...educational expectations, time spent on homework, advanced mathematics credits earned, and the probability of obtaining a high school diploma. – The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis by Linda J. Waite (Sociology & Evelyn L. Lehrer, Economics, University of Chicago)

    If you don't have a college degree, you’re less likely to be up early on Sunday morning, singing church hymns. That's the upshot of a new study that finds the decline in church attendance since the 1970s among white Americans without college degrees is twice as high as for those with college degrees… less-educated whites are less likely to get or stay married and may feel ostracized by their religious peers… The researchers expressed concern about the falloff in church attendance among the less-educated. – Less-Educated Americans Are Losing Religion, Study Finds. CNN
    In the past decade, 23 percent of the least-educated whites attended religious services monthly or more often, compared with 37 percent of moderately educated whites and 46 percent of college-educated whites...
    "Our study suggests that the less-educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market" – Many Less-Educated Whites Abandoning Religion, Study Finds, USA Today by W. Bradford Wilcox (Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia)

    Does Church Attendance Really Increase Schooling? By Linda D. Loury
    ...religiosity during adolescence has a significant effect on total number of years of schooling attained"

    ...results indicate that religiously committed urban children performed better on most academic measures than their less religious counterparts… – The Effects of Religious Commitment on the Academic Achievement of Urban and Other Children by William H. Jeynes (California State University at Long Beach)

    ...attending religious services every week or more...increase the amount of hours students report spending on academic work and extracurricular activities, as well as reduce the hours students report going to parties. Even when controlling for time spent partying, studying and in extracurricular activities, regular attendance at religious services increases academic achievement...also report being more satisfied at college. – Religion, College Grades, and Satisfaction among Students at Elite Colleges and Universities by Margarita Mooney (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

    ...Schwadel found that people actually tend to become more religious – by some definitions, at least – as they further their education… Highly educated people are not less religious; in fact, they’re more religious. – CNN, Study: More Educated Tend to be More Religious, by Some Measures by Philip Schwadel (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

    If you want to boost your teenager's grade point average, take the kid to church… Researchers found that church attendance has as much effect on a teen's GPA as whether the parents earned a college degree. Students in grades 7 to 12 who went to church weekly also had lower dropout rates and felt more a part of their schools. – Church Attendance Boosts Student GPAs at Live Science

    Students who participate in religious ritual once a week or more reported higher college GPAs… other measures of religiosity had a significant and positive impact on two other outcomes: the number of hours studied and school satisfaction…" – Religion at America’s Most Selective Colleges by Margarita Mooney (Office of Population Research, Princeton University)

    Previous research has observed that religious participation is positively related to a wide variety of adolescent outcomes, including academic achievement…religious attendance promotes higher intergenerational closure, friendship networks with higher educational resources and norms, and extracurricular participation… students who attended religious activities weekly, or more frequently, were found to have a GPA 14.4 percent higher than students who never attended religious functions… positively related to finishing high school and earning higher GPAs. – Notre Dame Magazine, More Church = Better Grades by Jennifer Glanville, David Sikkink & Edwin Hernandez

    ‘One cannot engage in dialogue with religious thinkers in Britain today without quickly discovering that they are, on the whole, more intelligent, better educated and strikingly more freethinking than unbelievers (as evangelical atheists still incongruously describe themselves).’ p. 45 – Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions by John Gray (Western & Political Philosophy, School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics)

    For mainstream Christianity, reason, argument and honest doubt have always played an integral role in belief. – Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching by Terry Eagleton (Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University)

    September 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      So does any of this prove there is a god?

      September 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
      • Reason

        Did I say it did?

        September 18, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Interesting that you mention Schwadel and his survey as one thing it also mentioned was:

      “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,”

      In other words, the better educated the less likely to claim the bible is literal and less likely to claim only 1 path in religion.

      September 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • Reason

        Whats your point? I did include the source for a reason.

        September 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Meredith S.

      My children will always know God. If that doesn't align with some people's worldview, so be it.
      They are old enough to make choices, and they chose God.
      That being said, I haven't "indocrinated" them, and all of the rest of the arguments. I merely gave them the tools to make the choice themselves.

      September 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • Meredith S.

        Agreed. So, point being, having said that, I am perfect

        September 19, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Meredith S.

          I am sure you are not perfect; you're only convinced you are. Please seek Jesus for help your attitude.

          September 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
      • Lisa

        I grew up like that. My mom and I never imagined a day when I would stop believing, but here I am. Once you realize that you don't have a good reason to think that God is actually out there, then faith just seems like lots of other things you use to just take adult's word on when you were a kid.

        September 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Sara

      What I got from this is study is that, surprise surprise, if you went to college you are more likely to have your Siunday mornings free (rather than, say, working at walmart), be married, and spend time reading.

      The reality is that 71% with a grad degree believe in god(s), and 88% of those with a HS diploma or less. And most of that difference is in whether or not one went to college.

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/109108/belief-god-far-lower-western-us.aspx

      More importantly, education tempers religiosity and makes people more open to accepting what they don't know. Either way, though, people will pick a believe system that supports their sense of self and justifies their role in the world as deserving and worthwhile.

      September 19, 2013 at 8:15 am |
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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.