A Poll on Religion and Education

We found this at a website called Christian Daily, located in New York City. Their headline is Christians in U.S. less educated than other religious groups – Pew report. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Christians in the United States are less educated compared to religious minorities and other religious groups, says a global review of census and survey data from 2010 by the Pew Research Center. Based on the review released by Pew on Tuesday, only 36 percent of the 267 million Christians in the U.S. had attended college or a vocational school. Because of this finding, they are considered as the least-educated religious group in America, The New York Times details.

We didn’t look at the Times article. This is the story at the Pew website: Religion and Education Around the World, dated 13 December. We’ll get back to Christian Daily, but it’s Pew’s study, so let’s see what they say:

Jews are more highly educated than any other major religious group around the world, while Muslims and Hindus tend to have the fewest years of formal schooling, according to a Pew Research Center global demographic study that shows wide disparities in average educational levels among religious groups.

These gaps in educational attainment are partly a function of where religious groups are concentrated throughout the world. For instance, the vast majority of the world’s Jews live in the United States and Israel – two economically developed countries with high levels of education overall. And low levels of attainment among Hindus reflect the fact that 98% of Hindu adults live in the developing countries of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

There may be some confusion about cause and effect here, but let’s not leap to any conclusions. On with the Pew article:

But there also are important differences in educational attainment among religious groups living in the same region, and even the same country. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, Christians generally have higher average levels of education than Muslims. Some social scientists have attributed this gap primarily to historical factors, including missionary activity during colonial times.

There’s a load of information in the article, most of it with a global perspective, and a lot about gender gaps, so let’s get back to Christian Daily:

Meanwhile, a study published in the journal “Environment and Behavior” concludes that religion is strongly associated with Americans’ rejection of the evolution theory, but not of climate change.

Now they’re talking about something we saw a few days ago at PhysOrg: Evangelicals are more skeptical of evolution than of climate change. That says:

Evangelicals are more skeptical of evolution than of climate change, according to new research from Rice University.

[…]

The research revealed that about 20 percent of the U.S. population is skeptical that climate change is occurring at all or that humans have a role in climate change, and about 45 percent of the U.S. population views natural evolution as probably or definitely false. However, the researchers found that there is a much stronger and clearer association between religion and evolution skepticism than between religion and climate-change skepticism. Almost 70 percent of surveyed respondents identifying as evangelicals said that evolution is probably or definitely false, while only 28 percent of these individuals said that the climate is not changing or that humans have no role in climate change.

There’s nothing else at Christian Daily, so that’s the news. What conclusions, if any, do you get from this?

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9 responses to “A Poll on Religion and Education

  1. What conclusions, if any, do you get from this?

    That, by and large, conservatives are committed to science denial. I’ve had lots of conversations with conservatives who’re completely au fait with science but who, when it comes down to it, vote for a bonehead because of their reality-denying ideology.

    Sometimes conservatives get it right, perhaps for the most part by accident — I’d love to think that the ghastly Margaret Thatcher destroyed the British mining industry because she was concerned about climate change rather than resolute to destroy the trade unions and thereby benefit her government’s corporate friends — but it’s something that’s rare.

    Frankly, it’s not all that important if deluded fundagelicals think evolution is bunk and get creationism installed in the schools — that might destroy US science and lead a few generations of US kids into self-destruction. Human civilization can withstand this, perhaps even laugh at it (as you so often do). The denial of climate science, however, is on a whole different scale. That’s an almost entirely conservative issue (Alexander Cockburn aside), and it’s likely to kill everything that the Enlightenment fostered . . . in other words, human civilization.

    Sorry for this unproofread rant, but it’s an issue that shouldn’t be dodged.

  2. Almost 70 percent of surveyed respondents identifying as evangelicals said that evolution is probably or definitely false, while only 28 percent of these individuals said that the climate is not changing or that humans have no role in climate change.

    I’d speculate that this is because evolution is a blind process in which there is no role for “sin,” while human-caused climate change can be attributed to the sinful actions of fallen mankind. Evangelicals, on the whole, are big on the importance of sin.

  3. Most evangelicals are not skeptical of evolution because most evangelicals don’t know what evolution is. Most think it involves the Big Bang Theory. They have been taught that a good attitude is one that denies evolution as a valid theory, they don’t know this. They are simply passing on propaganda they have heard.

    We need to stop expressing such views as opinions when they do not know what they are talking about–otherwise we are just hearing another person’s words repeated. It is kind of like Gov. Rick Perry wanting to abolish the Department of Energy when he did not and I suspect still does not know what the Department of Energy does. (I don’t care if the DOE continues to exist, but the critical functions that it performs have to be done somehow.)

  4. And note that the survey does not address those religionists who are “more educated” but remain totally immune to their “education”. I am specifically referring to religious loons with actual Masters and PhD degrees who reject any recognition of the facts that those degrees required in the first place. There are numerous young earth creationists including “biologists”, “geologists”, “astrophysicists”, etc. with PhDs, even after ignoring all of the fake degrees.

  5. Realthog ” I’d love to think that the ghastly Margaret Thatcher destroyed the British mining industry because she was concerned about climate change rather than resolute to destroy the trade unions ”

    Margaret Thatcher did a number of things I really dislike, but this one I really not understand. The Labour Harold Wilson Government, preceding Thatcher, closed 290 coal mines, compared to 160 with Thatcher, but it is only Thatcher that ever gets the blame, when Harold Wilson did far more damage to it, before her.

  6. Flakey notes:

    The Labour Harold Wilson Government, preceding Thatcher, closed 290 coal mines, compared to 160 with Thatcher, but it is only Thatcher that ever gets the blame, when Harold Wilson did far more damage to it, before her.

    The picture’s a tad more complicated than that, I think–but you need to go back further than the Wilson government(s).

    Throughout the first half of the 20th century, coal was virtually the exclusive energy source available in the UK and of vital strategic importance–so much so, the coal reserves themselves (but not the mining companies) were effectively nationalised during WWII, with government regulation of production as part of war-time emergency measures. After the war, the Attlee govt nationalised the collieries, many of which were too small to invest in new equipment needed to extract deeper seams. The NCB (National Coal Board) became the state-run governing body for the industry; the coal itself was already in public ownership.

    Comparing the raw number of pits closed by Wilson and Thatcher is misleading here, because the productivity of the coal industry greatly improved in the 1960’s (something like 70%) as a result of the NCB’s investments in plant as well as those rationalisations (closing uneconomic pits)–and, contrary to conservative orthodoxy–demonstrably and dramatically improved performance of the industry compared to the pre-nationalised era.

    Competition from oil and cheaper imports hit the industry hard–but that’s market forces for you. It seems to me that the real issue (the political one) isn’t whether or not the state should intervene to prop up an industry which goes into decline because of market forces (I think not), but whether the state has a role in mitigating the often harsh workings of the free market on the social fabric; I think it does, but the Thatcher regime sharply disagreed. Whole communities in the UK were entirely built around coal and were thus wiped out by that industry’s decline, but the government’s response to the unemployed local workforce was Norman Tebbit’s infamous “On yer bike!”–that is, uproot your family and find work elsewhere, this is your private rather than a public problem. It isn’t for government, working for the common good, to assist with programmes to encourage investment in new industries in the area, or subsidise re-training of the work force &c &c–all that must instead be left to ‘market forces’, and the social cost be damned. And, as realthog pointed out above, the Thatcher government was additionally pursuing a party-political agenda in restricting the ability of unions to engage in collective bargaining, but somehow that agenda isn’t regarded as restricting the free market!

    Well, there are plenty of arguments to be made on either side (way out of the scope of this blog), but it is very interesting to me that there now seems to be a similar situation now with the coal industry in the US. Trump is pledged to put the coal miners back to work–but maybe that is just another of his shot-from-the-hip campaign ‘promises’ we’re not supposed to take literally? Or if he does mean to make good on that pledge, how will he do it? Nationalise the American coal industry? Pump in public money to underwrite the losses of an uneconomic industry? Who knows?

  7. it is only Thatcher that ever gets the blame

    That’s an interesting point, Flakey. I didn’t know those figures and assume they’re correct. Perhaps (and I’m just speculating here) it’s because Wilson closed down unprofitable mines whereas Thatcher actually killed the industry and the communities associated with it? I really don’t know.

    Whatever the case, I still think it’s a pertinent example of a bad action that, with hindsight, can be seen to have fortuitously had benefits, in that a lot of coal has remained in the ground.

    Margaret Thatcher did a number of things I really dislike

    I remember one day during her reign reading my morning newspaper and practically falling off the john in astonishment at the discovery that she’d done something I actually approved of. Of course, I can’t now remember what that one thing was . . .

  8. Many thanks for that highly informative analysis, Megalonyx.

  9. When I saw a study by Rice University my immediate thought was that god-soaked, soppy sociologist, Eklund, and there she was! Dr. Obvious, she is. But, guess what? She pulled in a multi-million $$ grant from the all-god-all-the-time Templeton Foundation, so good for her milking manna from heaven, so to speak. There’s gold in that thar swill.

    I’m looking forward to the results of her current research: Does being Baptist make you a bad dancer?

    Inquiring minds want to know.