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Subject:  Re: Religionists miss the scale of things Date:  3/13/2005  1:04 PM
Author:  LorenCobb Number:  143648 of 519611

madmikeyd: Is there any statistical, as opposed to anecdotal, evidence of a correlation between educational level and belief or lack of belief in a deity/deities?

I would guess that there is probably a weak correlation, not strong enough to get excited about. There are almost certainly some studies that have been done on this point, but I don't know of them. I think if they had found any sort of strong correlation, we would have heard.

Plenty of scientists and otherwise well-educated people are deeply committed theists. What is of interest to me is their style of theism, not the fact of their theism. For example, Karen Armstrong was a nun, but I think her writings on the history of religion ought to be required reading for every social scientist. Teilhard du Chardin was another who combined science and religion in fascinating and creative ways. Even Albert Einstein should be considered a theist.

I think the critical distinction to be made is not between theist and atheist, at all.

Instead, we should be comparing those who use doctrinaire religion as a form of escape or comfort from the complexities and uncertainties of the world, on one hand, and those who see both religion and science as vital parts of the quest for truth on the other. It's my guess that there is a strong correlation between educational level and this kind of distinction.

After all, religion does not have to be the rigid and tightly constrained view of the world that evangelical Christians espouse, and in many parts of the world it is not. Spiritual thoughts are simply part of the human experience, perhaps more so than logical thoughts. Science and religion do not need to conflict with one another, and in fact do not for most people in the world today. It is only the fundies (whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish) with their cult-like levels of denial that are causing conflict.

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