When we Teach our Kids that God is Irrelevant, Expect them to Believe It.

 Let’s face it: secularism is growing in the United States.

There, I said it. I don’t like it, but even a casual glance at the religious landscape over the course of my lifetime demonstrates that the number of people attending worship services on Sunday mornings (or alternative days) has declined from the 1960s or even the 1970s.

While the increase in “no religious affiliation” is real, it is my belief that it is unlikely that the rise in the “no religious affiliation” crowd is due to some overwhelming acceptance of atheism. While there are some atheists who make reasonable arguments against theism, most of the fare available on the Internet are rather humdrum arguments that have long ago been answered. An in-depth evaluation of these arguments may convince the already committed, but would have little impact on someone seeking truth.

Rather, it seems to me that the real cause for the increase of the “no affiliation” crowd is the rise in a general indifference about religious belief, i.e., it just doesn’t seem to matter. Ask a non-affiliated person (other than your hardened atheist who, despite the books upon books written on the subject, believes that the argument from evil has not been answered) why he or she doesn’t go to church, and it is likely that the answer will be something like, “It’s just not my thing.”



Where did this come from? Why is it that people – especially younger people – are not finding belief in God important enough to deserve even the effort to investigate its claims? Why will they spend hours binge-watching their favorite television series, but not find the time to investigate whether God is real? Well, an article on National Review by Cameron Hilditch entitled “Why American Children Stopped Believing in God” explores this important question through summarizing a report by Lyman Stone of the American Enterprise Institute entitled “Promise and Peril: The History of American Religiosity and its Recent Decline”.

The article begins by stating what those of us who are Christian believe to be obvious: the decline of Christianity isn’t because of some correlation where the more educated a person is, the less likely that person is to be religious. Poppycock, says Hilditch (without actually using the word.) He notes:

Religious conservatives would probably cite the loosening of the country’s morals that began in the ’60s and ’70s. Secular progressives might mutter something about the onward march of “Science” and “Reason” over time. But the data seem to show that the main driver of secularization in the United States has been the acceleration of government spending on education and government control over the curricular content taught in schools.

Here our secular progressive might raise his head again, perhaps feeling a bit smug about this finding. “See!”, he says. “Children used to be deprived of education and the life of the mind! They were stuck in the doldrums of ignorance and squalor before the benevolent hand of the state reached down and lifted them up into the world of literacy and critical thought. All that was needed was a little education to free them from hokey superstitions.”

It’s a simple theory, befitting the minds of those who have historically espoused it. But it’s falsified by the data. Stone cites the seminal work of Raphael Franck and Laurence Iannaccone on this point, who meticulously tracked religious behavior over time in their own work. According to Franck and Iannaccone, “higher educational attainment did not predict lower religiosity: More and less educated people are similarly religious.” Nor did they “find that industrialized, urban life reduces religiosity: A more urban and industrialized population was associated with greater religiosity.” The link between intellectual progression/modernization and secularization is non-existent.

Having discarded that theory, he spends some further time in the article before hitting the main point: The rise in secularism is the way that American public schools treat religious belief as irrelevant, and even go so far as to eliminate most religious thought from school. Hilditch writes:

So how do we explain this link between education policy and religious belief given that academic attainment itself isn’t a factor? It’s quite simple, really. Children learn more at school than reading, writing, and arithmetic. They imbibe a whole set of implied assumptions about what’s important in life. By excluding religious instruction from public schools, the government-run education system tacitly teaches students that religious commitments are not a first-order priority in life. Faith in God becomes a sort of optional weekend hobby akin to playing tennis or video games. Christ and Moses are treated by teachers and administrators like weapons or drugs — confiscated upon discovery.

In this way, the hierarchy of values communicated both explicitly and implicitly to students in American high schools excludes religious claims from the outset. College, career, and popularity become the existential targets toward which the arrow of each student’s soul is aimed by bow-wielding commissars across the country. In a context such as this, secularization becomes ineluctable.

In his paper, Lyman notes:

In other words, the content of education matters. Evidence that education reduces religiosity is fairly weak: American religiosity rose considerably from 1800 until the 1970s, despite rapidly rising educational attainment. But the evidence that specifically secular education might reduce religiosity is more compelling. Indeed, statistically, most researchers who have explored long-run change in religiosity find that education-related variables, which I have argued are a proxy for secular education, can explain nearly the totality of change in religiosity.

It is an appropriate conclusion. If religion is treated as if it is no more than a private choice that has no impact on the society, it is easy to dismiss it much as you might decide against playing Bingo on weekends. “It’s not my thing.”

But it isn’t even as if Christianity is treated on equal footing with playing Bingo when it comes to the public education system. I doubt that anyone would seriously question that I could stand up in any school classroom in America and present a paper arguing that playing Bingo is a fun, interesting social activity and that everyone should play. I could do so without being in fear that I would be violating the unwritten rules that “we don’t speak of Bingo” in the classroom. I have no doubt that I would not be told to sit down because I was excluding those who did not play Bingo. It would be seen as perfectly acceptable.



But could I stand up in class in today’s schools and make the case for Christianity? Could I write a paper speaking of my reasons for being convinced that God is real and that Christianity is both a social and personal good? Except in a few remaining enlightened schools that understand that the purpose of education is to educate, I would almost certainly be told that speaking of God is not an appropriate subject for school, and that my speaking of my faith would exclude other students who did not share that faith.

Students who are paying attention will notice this. They will note that the answers to the questions never involve faith or Christianity (except when it can be taught in a negative way, see “The Spanish Inquisition,” “The Crusades” or “The Salem Witch Trials”). Even when faith is an important aspect of a positive event such as the Abolition movement and the Civil Rights Movement, it will be discounted. And, moreover, it is a topic that, like Lord Voldemort, is “that which must not be named.”

Is it any wonder that the students in 21st Century America who have been raised primarily in the public schools where God as primarily taught through Christianity is discounted (at best, God is irrelevant and at worst evil) would believe that God is not worth giving up a morning trip to the beach?

 

Comments

Anonymous said…
BK: While the increase in “no religious affiliation” is real, it is my belief that it is unlikely that the rise in the “no religious affiliation” crowd is due to some overwhelming acceptance of atheism.

Certainly in the UK it is a rise in "Who cares?"

BK: the decline of Christianity isn’t because of some correlation where the more educated a person is, the less likely that person is to be religious

Again, drawing on what see in the UK, I would say the less educated you are, the less you care either way.

BK: The rise in secularism is the way that American public schools treat religious belief as irrelevant, and even go so far as to eliminate most religious thought from school

At this point, I have to disagree. If you look at the UK, we have a huge number of religious schools. Not the majority - around a third in the 5 to 11 age range and rather less for older - but a lot.
https://religionmediacentre.org.uk/factsheets/faith-schools-in-the-uk/

And yet, in England church attendance is less than 5%.

BK: But could I stand up in class in today’s schools and make the case for Christianity? Could I write a paper speaking of my reasons for being convinced that God is real and that Christianity is both a social and personal good?

Would you be happy for a Muslim to stand up in school and say that Islam is the only true religion? Or is this something you want only for your own religion?

BK: Is it any wonder that the students in 21st Century America who have been raised primarily in the public schools where God as primarily taught through Christianity is discounted (at best, God is irrelevant and at worst evil) would believe that God is not worth giving up a morning trip to the beach?

I think a bigger reason for the decline of Christianity is that it has failed to deliver. After two thousand years, still no sign of Jesus returning, still no sign of God actually doing anything. We are in the middle of a global pandemic; what has God done about? Nothing. What do Christians do? Pretend it does not exist.

If you get cancer, you can either pray for God to cure you or go see a doctor. Today, going to see a doctor has a decent chance of leading to you surviving. Praying will not improve your chances at all. The original arguments of Christianity were the miracles; the healings performed by Jesus and later his apostles. Nowadays, these "miracles" are being done by science, and those doing it in Jesus' name are routinely shown to be charlatans. Is it any wonder young people are not impressed?

Pix
BK said…
While I am no expert on Great Britain's situation, I note from your link that the number of secondary education institutes in Great Britain is 6.1%. As you said, "rather less" than the elementary age. Since secondary schools is where most students begin to separate from their parents, this is a significant difference. But there is no doubt that the number of religious people in England has plummeted and is only a tiny fraction of what it once was. Although if it is only 5%, and only 6% of schools in Great Britain are religious, the numbers are so close as to be more than a little interesting.

If a Muslim student wanted to stand up and state his/her faith, I would be fine with that. That's something that comes with freedom of religion. It isn't safe. It is about being informed to make choices -- even in schools.

The rest of your comment is just your view. I disagree with virtually all of it. But that's another story for another day.
JBsptfn said…
When Pix says in the next to last paragaraph (that Christians pretend that the pandemic is not true) shows to me that he is a Statheist (a term coined by a friend of Mark Passio from whatonearthishappening.com):

Mark Passio: God Save Us from the (St)atheists

Statheists worship and honor this government, listen to everything they say, and call people "science deniers" when they speak out against things like evolution and vaccines.
Anonymous said…
BK: While I am no expert on Great Britain's situation, I note from your link that the number of secondary education institutes in Great Britain is 6.1%.

It actually says:

"The number of secondary faith schools was 627 amounting to 18.4% of the total."

BK: If a Muslim student wanted to stand up and state his/her faith, I would be fine with that. That's something that comes with freedom of religion. It isn't safe. It is about being informed to make choices -- even in schools.

Good to hear.

Pix
Anonymous said…
JBsptfb: When Pix says in the next to last paragaraph (that Christians pretend that the pandemic is not true) shows to me that he is a Statheist (a term coined by a friend of Mark Passio from whatonearthishappening.com):

I think climate change is real, and there is plenty of evidence to support it. I think vaccinations have had a huge positive impact on mankind, and there is plenty of evidence to support it. I think COVID-19 real, and there is plenty of evidence to support it. I think evolution actually happened, and there is plenty of evidence to support it.

I appreciate that believing what the evidence points to gets me labelled a science-worshipper, but I guess you guys need some way to justify ignoring the plain truth.

JBsptfb from the linked site: Statheist makes sense, because a lot of them believe in more government and scientism (which pushes evolution and dangerous vaccines on people. They call people who go against these things "science deniers", which is wicked, and from the pit of hell).

You may think calling you "science deniers" is wicked and from the pit of hell, but that does not make it any less true. I do not doubt that you embrace science when convenient, but you do not get to pick-and-choose the reality you want. Evolution is science too. Climate change is science too. Vaccination is science too. COVID-19 is science too.

If you deny these things because they do not fit your worldview, that makes you a science-denier.

Pix
JBsptfn said…
Evolution is not science:

Science Against Evolution

I don't believe this because of the Bible. The Bible really isn't against or for evolution. In fact, someone did an article about how the Bible may support it (or something like it):

Old Earth: Evolution- The Bible Taught it First

I question it because it seems more to me like an idelogy than true science. And, I am not the only one who believes that:



As for the other things mentioned above, I question them not because of any ideology I have, but because government has the tendency to invent things to help their ideologies and agendas. Climate change probably falls into this, as does COVID. They want to use this to give people a deadly vaccine.
JBsptfn said…
Apparently, the second link didn't take:

Fred Reed on Evolution
As for the other things mentioned above, I question them not because of any ideology I have, but because government has the tendency to invent things to help their ideologies and agendas. Climate change probably falls into this, as does COVID. They want to use this to give people a deadly vaccine.

sorry JB that is hog wash. evolution is certainly science the Bible doesn't speak to that. we don't have to choose one or the other We can believe them both
Anonymous said…
JBsptfn: As for the other things mentioned above, I question them not because of any ideology I have, but because government has the tendency to invent things to help their ideologies and agendas. Climate change probably falls into this, as does COVID. They want to use this to give people a deadly vaccine.

All of which makes you a science denier.

Something like 99% of biologists - experts in the discipline - accept evolution (this is based on comparing numbers for the Steve Project to the Dissent from Darwinism signatories).

These biologists have all sorts of ideologies and religions - and none at all - and are from nations across all the continents. They believe evolution because of the evidence.

To suppose all those people accept and teach evolution because the US government wants to promote their own agenda - which changes every four years - is ludicrous and, frankly, more than a little paranoid.

JBsptfn: ... They want to use this to give people a deadly vaccine.

Why do you think they want to kill millions of people, JBsptfn? What agenda does that serve?

JBsptfn: ... They want to use this to give people a deadly vaccine.

If people take the vaccine and survive, will you change your mind? You are making a firm, testable prediction here, like in science really. If your hypothesis is right, then it follows that most of the people who take the vaccine will be dead within three months. Is that reasonable to say?

I will throw in my own prediction to make it fun. The vaccine is not deadly, therefore most people will survive. In fact I will be bolder than that, and I will says 90% of those who take the vaccine will survive (given it will be given to the elderly as a priority, there are going to be some people who would die anyway, so I am not going to say no deaths).

Come summer, then, we can look at the statistics. If the number of deaths is greater than 50%, I will concede you are right.

If the number is less than 10% will you admit you were wrong?

Pix
JB I get to take the vaccine next week. What should I do? will it kill me?
JBsptfn said…
Pixie,

1. Where do you get this 99% number? And, I doubt that they all believe because of the evidence. Some believe anything to get grant money rolling in.

2. The vaccine probably won't kill people, but that doesn't mean it's safe. This situation looks like the 1976 Swine Flu Vaccine debacle all over again:

Smithsonian Magazine: The Long Shadow of the 1976 Swine Flu Vaccine Fiasco
BK said…
JBsptfn - You are allowed to believe what you want. Don't let this "science denier" nonsense hold you back. There is lots of reasons to recognize that evolution is a model that tries to take into account the evidence. Parts of it are science, but other parts are pure conjecture. And Project Steve isn't about 99% of biologists - it is about 99% of scientists (regardless of their field) name Steve believing in biology.

But I don't think anyone is intentionally giving people a vaccine to kill them. I do believe that we won't know the possible negative effects of this vaccine for many years.

But this is way, way, way off topic.
F2Andy said…
JBsptfn 1. Where do you get this 99% number? ...

The Dissent from Darwinism list is here. There is 27 pages, about 20 scientists per page who are biologists of some sort, giving 500 to 600 biologists who disagree.


The Steve Project is here. It has 1461 biologists who accept evolution and are called Steve or some derivative thereof.

Steves and derivatives thereof make up about 1% of the population, so that 1461 Steves represents nearly 150 000 biologists all told.

So where I get the number from is evidence.

JBsptfn ...And, I doubt that they all believe because of the evidence. Some believe anything to get grant money rolling in.

And what is your evidence for that?

JBsptfn 2. The vaccine probably won't kill people, but that doesn't mean it's safe. This situation looks like the 1976 Swine Flu Vaccine debacle all over again:

But you said it is "a deadly vaccine"!

See, this is why I think you are talking BS. As soon as you are challenged, you backtrack.

You challenged me on the figure 99%, and I went and found the evidence to support it. I challenged you on the claim of "a deadly vaccine", and you immediately admitted it "probably won't kill people". One of us talking from a position of evidence, one of us is spouting BS.

And I have a problem with that, because some people might actually believe you. How many people have you told the vaccine is deadly? How many do you think believed your lie?

And I say "lie" quite deliberately, because really that is what it is. You knew it was not true, but still chose to say it because you have an agenda to promote. You have been caught doing exactly what you accuse others of doing: "government has the tendency to invent things to help their ideologies and agendas."

Turns out science deniers have the tendency to invent things to help their ideologies and agendas.

Pix
"As for the other things mentioned above, I question them not because of any ideology I have, but because government has the tendency to invent things to help their ideologies and agendas. Climate change probably falls into this, as does COVID. They want to use this to give people a deadly vaccine."

How do you explain the fact that the government has been republican for the last four years?
JBsptfn said…
Doesn't matter. Both sides are the same. They just pretend to be different. Mark Passio of What on Earth is Happening calls it a polarization dialectic. Don't know why Americans can't understand that.
Anonymous said…
JBsptfn: Doesn't matter. Both sides are the same.

And presumably you think governments across the world are also the same? Or is your view so myopic you can only see as far as your national boundary?

What advantage do you think they get from the vaccine? Why do so many nations want to kill millions of their own people?

Pix
what the hell is the Steve project?
JBsptfn said…
Pixie, I am not talking about any other governments. I was talking about ours. And, I believe that any human government in America or otherwise (unless it is for and by the people) is immoral and is slavery.

Also, I didn't say they wanted to kill everyone. However, they do want to affect people for the worse with this. If not, the leaders in this country would have dealt with this back in January when it was on the horizon instead of delaying it and then making people put up with these silly lockdowns and mask wearing.
Anonymous said…
JBsptfn: Pixie, I am not talking about any other governments. I was talking about ours.

Why does that not surprise me? If you can bear to look outside your own nation's borders, you will see governments across the world are saying the same thing about COVID and vaccines. How does that fit with your conspiracy theory?

Why are governments in Europe supporting the US government murdering its own citizens? It makes no sense at all.

So how do you rationalise that? Just ignore it, apparently.

JBsptfn: Also, I didn't say they wanted to kill everyone.

You said the government wants to give everyone a deadly vaccine. The implication would seem to be that they want to murder everyone.

JBsptfn: However, they do want to affect people for the worse with this.

Worse in what way? Just a bit dead?

And why? What does the US government get out of making people take a deadly vaccine that is not actually deadly but makes them worse?

JBsptfn: If not, the leaders in this country would have dealt with this back in January when it was on the horizon instead of delaying it and then making people put up with these silly lockdowns and mask wearing.

The leader of the country was a idiot who does not give a hoot about anyone other than himself, and for months was in denial about it. This is the guy who said we should be drinking bleach, after all. That is why it took so long to deal with it, not because the government wants to give everyone a "deadly" vaccine.

Pix
hey yall! we really should mar this date! PX and I are on the same side here.
The leader of the country was a idiot who does not give a hoot about anyone other than himself, and for months was in denial about it. This is the guy who said we should be drinking bleach, after all. That is why it took so long to deal with it, not because the government wants to give everyone a "deadly" vaccine.


Pix

right on
Anonymous said…
Joe: hey yall! we really should mar this date! PX and I are on the same side here.

When it comes to politics, I think we agree. It is just your religious nonsense...

Pix
When it comes to politics, I think we agree. It is just your religious nonsense...


True, very short sighted of you.