College = No God?

In chapter 3, Chaves discusses three major changes in religious belief: decline in a confident belief in God, decline in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and an increase in spiritual expression.

In discussing these changes, Chaves explains that there is a correlation between higher education and a decline in the belief of a literal Bible. This statistic is not at all new nor surprising to me. When I was first looking at colleges to attend, my very religious father was quite critical about the schools that I was considering. He wanted me to attend CBU due to its close affiliation with a Christian church. The purpose of college itself: learning, obtaining a degree for a future desired career, meant nothing to him. He believed that if I attended a school that was not openly and rigorously Christian that I would become an evolution subscribing atheist. He argued this point using the same statistics that Chaves points out in this chapter. No matter how often I reminded my father that my attending college was going to have no effect on my religious beliefs, he continued to be skeptical and upset. Still today when I discuss what I am learning with him, he expresses his sort of disdain for my educational pursuit. He often argues with me about scientific studies such as GMOs and climate change. He also constantly worries that in my classes professors push their religious agendas upon me like in the film God’s Not Dead. 

To my father’s surprise professors do not participate in any sort of religious judgement or recruitment of their students. However, much to his chagrin, I am not an advocate for a literal word-for-word interpretation of the Bible. My thoughts about interpreting the Bible are also not influenced in the slightest by the classes that I attend. I think that this correlation between higher education and a more “loose” interpretation of the Bible is not so much the education itself as opposed to students’ ability to question the world around them as well as reading “below the surface.” That does not necessarily mean that they no longer believe, although that could be the case sometimes. Like Susan in “Separate Realities” doubt and questioning can further your faith and relationship with God, in this case the Christian God.