Inside Higher Ed is reporting on a new sociological study that shows a greater frequency of rejection of religion by young people who don’t attend college. We college professors aren’t responsible!
Percent of Young Adults Reporting Religious Declines, by Level of Education
|Educational Attainment||Decline in Attending Services||Decline in Importance of Religion||Disaffiliation From Religion|
|Didn’t attend college||76.2%||23.7%||20.3%|
|Attended, but earned no degree||71.5%||16.3%||14.6%|
|Earned associate degree||60.3%||15.1%||14.4%|
|Earned at least a bachelor’s degree||59.2%||15.0%||15.0%|
This isn’t really that surprising — there are a couple of facts of life about college. The universities are infested with clubs and organizations that push religion on our students, with relatively little representation by skeptic/atheist groups—we have religious events going on all the time, which are well advertised and by all appearances, well-funded. And the classrooms are definitely not places where we push back.
Regnerus said that what the study suggests — and his personal experience confirms — is that while there are plenty of non-religious professors around, they aren’t trying to discourage any students from practicing their faith. “Of course there are some who are hostile to religion. But they don’t teach that. They teach their discipline,” Regnerus said. The attitude, he added, is: “Whatever I think about evangelicals, when I go to teach quantum physics, I teach quantum physics.”
While I may have a reputation as a ferocious atheist on the web, it just doesn’t show up in my classes. I have a hard enough time squeezing in all the key biology material without tossing in stuff about godlessness that won’t show up on the tests. Besides, you just know that the god-blather on an exam would just make them easier. For example,
Extension of a tip link in a hair cell opens K+ channels that lead to
a. hyperpolarization of the membrane.
b. depolarization of the membrane.
c. calcium influx.
d. activation of voltage-gated K+ channels.
e. none of the above: Jesus regulates your ion channels.
I think the students would all just know that (e) wasn’t among the right answers.
There was another odd correlation. Well, maybe not so odd.
Those who don’t have sex before marriage are also those who don’t experience as much of a drop in religious connection. Those who have smoked pot experience more of a drop. Those who increase alcohol consumption during their young adulthood experience more of a drop in religious connection.
We college professors don’t contribute much to the wild parties and the deflowering of virgins, I’m afraid, and those apparently contribute to the abandonment of religion. It does suggest exciting new recruiting strategies for atheists, though!