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Why are better educated people less religious?

 
 
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 02:34 pm
According to an article in Scientific American, a popular-science magazine, 90% of the general population surveyed professed a distinct belief in a personal god and afterlife, while only 40% of the scientists with a Bachelor of Science degree surveyed did so, and only 10% of those considered "eminent."

Why is this?

What does it mean?

Is this why religion attacks science (evolution vs. creationism)?

Is this a phenomenon that we will see progress?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 24 • Views: 26,832 • Replies: 548

 
Phoenix32890
 
  2  
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 02:48 pm
It is really quite obvious, and not surprising. Most people who have a better education have been taught to think for themselves, and to depend on logic and reason, rather than mysticism.

People who have a better "handle" on life, who have learned to identify problems, develop strategies, and deal with their difficulties, are less apt to rely on some illusory force beyond themselves.

Certainly scientists, who are generally, as a group, highly independent thinkers, are more likely not to cling to a religion for solace.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 05:12 pm
Not to mention that many 'educated' folks are merely taken by an inflated reverence for their own intelligence.

Present company excepted, of course.
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 06:38 pm
cuz'n we be 2 smart tew stop think'en long 'nuff to believe in bibles and other junk like that there...
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chiso
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 06:49 pm
...like the report that said drinking 1 glass of wine per night is healthy...
...a study funded by wine companies themselves.


So an atheistic magazine publishes a story that says atheists are more educated than theists ... does this surprise anyone?

Does it surprise anyone that this ridiculous thread was instantly deemed "feature"-worthy on this web site?

Two things come to mind when I hear this nonsense - a 'step' uncle I have always talking about how great he is, and the apostle Paul writing about those who claim to be wise.

"40% of scientists..." Laughing Does this include the ones that "study the flow of ketchup"?
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 07:04 pm
shewolfnm wrote:
cuz'n we be 2 smart tew stop think'en long 'nuff to believe in bibles and other junk like that there...
Seewhattahmeen!
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Mills75
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 08:08 pm
This is not new information. And religion is right to be antagonistic towards science. Science is like the persistent and observant Toto revealing the mere man working the controls of religion's Wizard.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 May, 2007 08:29 pm
In addition to what Phoenix has said, I think people who are predisposed towards questioning and skepticism (which may manifest itself as lack of religion) are attracted to science as a profession. My husband rejected the religion that he was born into when he was young (10 or 12 I think) -- he became a scientist later.
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OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 02:23 am
because we see it for what it really is.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 05:42 am
Quote:
I think people who are predisposed towards questioning and skepticism (which may manifest itself as lack of religion) are attracted to science as a profession.


soz- Good point. People who are scientists tend to be those who question everything. Questioning is antithetical to religious belief.
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baddog1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 05:50 am
Quote:
Why are better educated people less religious?


You're exactly right chiso! Self-serving... :wink:

As to the original question: How many examples of better educated people being more religious would it take for validation? A few come to mind - but how many is the question.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 06:27 am
The uneducated are more likely to be swept up by the mysticism of religion. With that in mind I have often wondered if religious leaders who in many instances highly educated actually believe the religious goblygook the feed their flock.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 06:48 am
The uneducated are more likely to be on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. Often their lives are not terribly fulfilling, and fraught with frustration. It is not a large leap to conclude that those folks would be open to the idea of an "afterlife". Often the church offers a stability that is missing in the lives of many of these people.

One of the things that I find most interesting is that the most way out religions seem to germinate in the poorest sections of town. Yes, there are those churches that attract the wealthy, but those groups are more like social clubs, places where like minded people can get together on common ground, and develop networks that can be useful in peoples' careers.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 07:05 am
baddog1 wrote:
Quote:
Why are better educated people less religious?


You're exactly right chiso! Self-serving... :wink:

As to the original question: How many examples of better educated people being more religious would it take for validation? A few come to mind - but how many is the question.


Validation of what?

The original question refers to better educated people being less religious and uses surveyed scientists as a benchmark. Without seeing comparable numbers on better educated people in other fields BA, MFA, BS in fields not considered 'Scientist', there's no way to determine if the benchmark supports the original statement.

I haven't read the article and I assume there was more info given than stating that those who define themselves as scientists are equivalent to those being 'better educated'.

If by validation you are looking to discount the original question, then keep in mind he simply said "less" religious. Less is defined as simply fewer than the comparative group. If 90% of the general population claims to believe in a personal god and an afterlife, then any finding of less than 90% among educated people would be less. Significance is another thing entirely, but I'm not sure what type of validation you're looking for.
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stlstrike3
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 08:04 am
A large body of the information we have about the utility of our pharmaceuticals comes from very, very expensive studies of those medications. As a result of the cost, drug companies themselves are often the ones paying for these studies. Does that mean that the studies are flawed just because someone has a vested interest in the outcome?

Not necessarily, but we do note such things when evaluating research. This is why standards for research have been adopted. So we can tell the good from the bad information.

The problem is, when you're trying to study a controversial issue (i.e. religiosity), you can't avoid the fact that someone is either a believer or they are not. They go to church or they do not. Does that mean that all studies in that regard are flawed? No.

It means that someone is trying to prove a point. The question is... did they succeed?
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 08:06 am
Let me guess stlstrike -- you're a scientist. ;-)

Welcome to A2K btw (whether you're a scientist or not), I've been appreciating your posts and we have a large FSM fan club here.

Ramen.
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baddog1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 08:12 am
JPB wrote:
baddog1 wrote:
Quote:
Why are better educated people less religious?


You're exactly right chiso! Self-serving... :wink:

As to the original question: How many examples of better educated people being more religious would it take for validation? A few come to mind - but how many is the question.


Validation of what?

The original question refers to better educated people being less religious and uses surveyed scientists as a benchmark. Without seeing comparable numbers on better educated people in other fields BA, MFA, BS in fields not considered 'Scientist', there's no way to determine if the benchmark supports the original statement.

I haven't read the article and I assume there was more info given than stating that those who define themselves as scientists are equivalent to those being 'better educated'.

If by validation you are looking to discount the original question, then keep in mind he simply said "less" religious. Less is defined as simply fewer than the comparative group. If 90% of the general population claims to believe in a personal god and an afterlife, then any finding of less than 90% among educated people would be less. Significance is another thing entirely, but I'm not sure what type of validation you're looking for.


The original title of this thread leads one to believe that the author has taken the position that says better educated people are less religious. Once a person has taken a position - they will maintain that position until convinced otherwise. I was simply asking what the criteria would be for the author to be convinced otherwise. Are 2 examples enough? 20? 20,000?
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 08:18 am
stlstrike3 wrote:
It means that someone is trying to prove a point. The question is... did they succeed?


Not if they used scientists as the sole comparator group and then claimed scientists to be equivalent to 'better educated'.
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neologist
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 08:22 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
Quote:
I think people who are predisposed towards questioning and skepticism (which may manifest itself as lack of religion) are attracted to science as a profession.


soz- Good point. People who are scientists tend to be those who question everything. Questioning is antithetical to religious belief.
Questioning is antithetical to credulity. True faith cannot be arrived at without questioning.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 May, 2007 08:24 am
baddog1 wrote:
The original title of this thread leads one to believe that the author has taken the position that says better educated people are less religious. Once a person has taken a position - they will maintain that position until convinced otherwise. I was simply asking what the criteria would be for the author to be convinced otherwise. Are 2 examples enough? 20? 20,000?



Stlstike3 can certainly speak for himself on this, but my previous point remains. He(?) never said that there aren't any religious but highly educated people. He simply said there are less. How does one quantify less? By having it not be more.
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