More educated, more religious, survey says

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Tuesday 23, August 2011 | Category:  

Since 1972 the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has conducted the General Social Survey (GSS), a cumulative and nationally representative survey known to social scientists as the “gold standard” of social data. Based on a recent analysis of this information, University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel found that people actually tend to become more religious—by some definitions, at least—as they further their education, reports Jim Kavanagh on the CNN Belief blog.

“It all falls down to what you consider to be religious,” Schwadel said. “If it’s simply attending religious services, then no. Highly educated people are not less religious; in fact, they’re more religious. But if it’s saying the Bible is the literal word of God and saying that only one religion is the true religion, then they are less religious.”

Schwadel found that, among other things, with each additional year of education:
• The likelihood of attending religious services increased 15 percent.
• The likelihood of reading the Bible at least occasionally increased by 9 percent.

Respondents to the GSS were asked whether they believe in God without any doubts; with various levels of doubt; whether they have a different concept of God or a higher power; or whether they didn’t believe in any such thing, Schwadel said. “With more years of education, you aren’t relatively more likely to say, ‘I don’t believe in God,’ " he said. "But you are relatively more likely to say, ‘I believe in a higher power.’ ”

Then again, last year’s Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life U.S. Religious Knowledge survey found that atheists/agnostics scored highest among various faith (or non-faith) groups when it came to basic religious knowledge! —Ed.

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