Thursday, April 07, 2011

Education and Religion

Andrew Sullivan asks (rhetorically):

Why does education erode faith?

After discussing the the popular (among the right) theory of left-wing indoctrination Conor Friedersdorf thinks he has a better idea:

To me, there are better explanations for the fact that "the more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views." One is that people who attend college leave home. That is to say, they leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful eye of parents who get angry or make them feel guilty when they don't go to services or stray in their faith. Suddenly they're surrounded by dorm mates of different faiths or no faith at all. For many of these students, it turns out that their religious behavior was driven more by desire for community, or social and parental pressure, than by deeply held beliefs. Another reason education correlates with secularism is that secularists are more likely to seek advanced degrees, partly because they're more focused than their religious counterparts on career.

I think Conor has a point, but how about the following. If you take classes in science and history, you learn that most of the stuff that religion teaches is nonsense. The Bible is an obvious and derivative myth. Moreover, promoters of all religions have devoted an inordinate portion of their efforts to murdering, torturing, and otherwise harrassing anyone who follows a different religion or otherwise fails to give lip service to their BS. I suspect that those things collectively might promote a little doubt even in those who never suspected the mythology before they got to college.