25 September 2007

Atheism Still Front Page News

The Denver Post ran another front page story on atheism yesterday, this time on the impact of a college education on faith. The Univeristy of Texas study reported upon found that while 18-25 year olds do dramatically reduce their involvement in organized religion when they leave home, that the drop is actually greater for non-college students than it is for college students, and that the proportion whose beliefs are impacted is a small fraction of the proportion who simply participate less in organized religious practice.

Texas researchers found that college students were less likely to lose their religion than others in their age group, 18 to 25 years old. . . .

Of the Texas study subjects, interviewed in 2001-02, almost 24 percent of those who never attended college said religion had become less important to them, compared with 15 percent of those who had earned a bachelor's degree. . . .

A 2006 study by two professors from Harvard University and George Mason Universities found the percentage of atheists and agnostics teaching in U.S. colleges, 23.4 percent, is about three times greater than in the general population.

Even so, they also found that almost 40 percent of professors from schools across the country attended religious services at least once a week, compared with about 49 percent of the general population.

Researchers at UCLA reported in 2004 that 79 percent of college students surveyed believed in God, 69 percent prayed and 81 percent attended some religious services.

UCLA's study surveyed more than 112,000 first-year students at 236 colleges and universities. . . .

To be sure, four decades of research have shown that adults ages 18 to 25 of all faiths slack off in terms of church attendance and identifying with organized religion, according to the Texas report.

By the 1980s, nearly 60 percent of students reported attending church less often than they did as adolescents. Up to 40 percent reported dropping out of organized religion once they left the nest.

Recent statistics, culled in the late 1990s to early 2000s, found that 69 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 attend church less often than they did growing up, a deeper decline than previous decades.

However, only 20 percent said religion was less important to them. And fewer than 17 percent completely dropped their religious affiliation.

Given that the educated are, on average less religious than the less educated, this would suggest that the college bound are more secular to start with than the non-college bound.

No comments: