Graduating Faith

You are less likely to keep faith in God if you get a bachelor’s degree: True or False? Based on the trends of secularization in our culture it might seem that the obvious answer to this question is true. But is it? According to a study by Philip Schwadel at the University of Nebraska in 2014, the answer was true for those born before 1950, but it is false for generations born after that same date.

He actually concludes that it is “the less educated that are particularly likely to become apostates.” As for the positive effect of education upon one’s faith, Schwadel notes that those who earn a bachelor’s degree are 35% less likely to disaffiliate for those raised in the Protestant faith. Schwadel even suggests that “higher education may even be negatively associated with religious disaffiliation in younger generations.” In other words: higher education may increase one’s commitment to faith.

This study reminded me of the quote from Francis Bacon, “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” Bacon, who served as both the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England in the sixteen hundreds, was a clear advocate of education. But he believed to dabble in it could easily distract one with secondary causes, or simply put with the created world that we see around us. But to delve deeper into thinking about why it is that something exists at all leads to questions of first causes:

“For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.”

Want your child to keep the faith? According to this study at least, one of your goals should be the give them an appetite for education. To put it in biblical categories, if you want your child to have staying faith then teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind. After all, the gospel won’t bow to Caeser and it won’t cower before the academy.