Thursday, August 13, 2009

The faith of college students

E.E. Evans at GetReligion describes two studies about the effect of higher education on the religious faith of students, neither of which has received much news coverage. The second study is based on research done at the University of Michigan:
The second project, from what I can tell, is much more authoritative, involving original, ongoing research, taking a hard look at what happens to religious practice and belief among high school and college students. The article from includes these conclusions (and a few others):
.... Being a humanities or a social science major has a statistically significant negative effect on religiosity — measured by either religious attendance and how important students consider the importance of religion in their lives. The impact appears to be strongest in the social sciences.
.... This project puts statistical meat on the bones of an issue that has occupied the realm of anecdote and speculation among students and parents: does the popularity of a “postmodern” (relativist) framework in academia, specifically in the humanities and social science, lead to a decrease in religiosity? Apparently, the answer is yes. Here’s the kicker quote from the Michigan researchers:
“Our results are thus consistent with the overall theoretical framework guiding this research. We believe that there are important differences among the college majors in world views and overall philosophies of life….,” they write. “[O]ur results suggest that postmodernism, rather than science, is the bete noir — the strongest antagonist — of religiosity.”
Faith findings 101 » GetReligion

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