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Education and Faith: Enemies?

A recent article in Inside Higher Ed says that they are not really the enemies that some assume:

For years, a commonly held belief has been that more educated Americans are less likely to embrace religion. But an article forthcoming (abstract available here) in The Review of Religious Research suggests that the relationship between education and faith is more nuanced, and that more education has a negative impact only on certain religious questions, not on all of them.

Some religious beliefs and practices — including belief in God and regular prayer — increase with years of education, the research found.

You can check out the rest of his post here, including comments about the methodology used, and a variety of examples of the conclusions.

As for my experience, it certainly wouldn’t be fair to simply look around at Messiah College, since all of my colleagues are committed to their faith and hold advanced degrees, but I can look back at my graduate school experience at Virginia Tech (Technically: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). I was aware of several faculty that took their faith seriously. I remember discussing with one why I wanted to reschedule a Wednesday evening exam (due to church commitments), and receiving permission readily based on the professor’s own usual church involvement which he was missing for one week to give the exam. Another faculty member and I had discussions about his move from a more mainline denomination into the Mennonite Church while he was in graduate school at Penn State. Several of my classmates and I discussed matters of faith, including one who commented on becoming more serious about his faith while an undergrad at Wake Forrest University in North Carolina. Personally, I moved from the “mainline” United Methodist Church (though my father, who is a pastor, is squarely in the more conservative edge of the denomination) into the Brethren in Christ denomination, traditionally much more conservative. I have never felt that my faith was in any way in conflict with my education or work in the academy, even in secular settings.

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