Comments about ‘Does higher education experience undermine faith — or enhance it?’

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Published: Sunday, March 11 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

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Ogden, UT

The assertion that education is contrary to religion is especially false in the LDS faith. One of the main themes of the LDS faith is that the glory of God is intelligence and that is where He gets His power from. Joseph Smith stated that ÂA man is saved no faster than he gets knowledgeÂ.

Highland, Utah

Hands down the best address I've ever read on this subject is entitled "What Every Freshman Should Know" given by Boyd K. Packer at a USU graduation. The talk can be found on the LDS website in the Sept 1973 Ensign. He talks about the great professors and great things that come from post high school studies but also those who seem determined to undermine the faith of their students. His assertion isn't that education is contrary to faith but that there are some in the field who have failed in their faith or who have none and thus feel it their obligation to "liberate" their pupils from theirs as well. I saw it myself during my studies in college which is why it rang so true when I read it. I highly recommend it for anyone who teaches, studies or has a child in college.

a serious man
Rexburg, ID

Having at least the freedom, intellectually, to abandon scriptural literalism is an important part of maintaining faith for educated people. Facing a false dilemma like "Either their was a worldwide flood exactly as it says in Genesis or the Bible isn't true" forces many thinking people to conclude "Well, then the Bible isn't true." Hopefully more room will continue to open up within the LDS faith for more metaphorical understanding of scriptures.

Columbus, OH

I would add that the statistic that Santorum raised was pretty close to accurate..it was 64% of kids who enter college stop attending religious services. However, for kids in the same age group who didn't go to college, 76% stopped attending services. It was all in the same study. Seems he was practicing a little selective reading, only grasping what he wanted to hear.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Compare the believer to the critic-

Spending your days criticizing others for their beliefs is a rejection of learning. The very nature of criticism is self-righteousness, intending to place one's own views on a pedestal, destroying other's beliefs. It is entirely incompatible with peace and a dangerous practice. While if accepting the equality of beliefs democratically, openly, forever searching for more- no such criticism would exist, only open ended questions instead of critics attacking views.

Faith is simply an act of hope- a motivation by learning there is more you don't know, you haven't observed yet, etc. The "Lectures on Faith" provide great insight into this principle. The very nature of faith is open ended and progressive. It is the nature of learning. The idea that education 'hurts faith' is a contradiction. What hurts or helps our faith- or our desire to learn. The critic isn't asking anything, isn't looking for more, isn't building on anything- but attacking others beliefs. Our desire to know is an act of faith. While critics desire only to justify themselves, rather than learn of more.

Education should teach to search all possibility, even including religious answers. How many educators actually do that? Few.

  • 9:37 a.m. March 12, 2012
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Magna, UT

Universities and colleges can strengthen the faith of those already well founded in their religion, but destroy that of those who are weaker. They can lead to compromises between faith and secular dogma.

Opposition strengthens if it does not destroy in other words.

There is a ton of evidence however of a universal flood but the postulates of the learned of today do not allow for or encourage an openminded study of that subject. Similar problems occur in various disciplines that actually counter learning in the very institutions that profess to dispense and enlarge it.

Intelligence is not wisdom is not knowledge. Eat the wheat and blow away the chaff. There is plenty of both in academia.

Magna, UT

To me this article begs the question; Why should we allow anit-religious people to influence our impressionable youth? We wouldn't let pedophiles have access to young people. Why do we feel so obligated to let people who have no faith whack away at them?

Columbus, OH

re: DaleC

You are operating in a very strange zone there. A person who does not share your religious beliefs is not equivalent to a person who commits terrible crimes. Last I checked, it is not a crime to not believe in your religion. Exposing your children to other religious practices and introducing knowledge that may not coincide with preconceived notions is not an attempt to lure your child into the wiles of the devil.

According to your logic, atheists could make the argument that Mormon missionaries are just as bad as pedophiles because they come into your child's life and try to hack away at what you taught them. Perhaps we should also ban religious proselytizing.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Higher education is like everything else - you get out of it what you look for.

If a person's faith is solid and can withstand the scrutiny and questions that arise when that person is exposed to other views, than there is nothing to worry about.

If a person's faith is not strong, then when that faith is challenged, the person will abandon that faith - maybe for another faith, maybe for no faith.

It is not education that is the issue or the problem.

Salt Lake City, Utah

@ DaleC: You really just compared people with a different belief system than yours with pedophiles?

Do you really lack that much faith in your faith that you feel completely defenseless around those who may disagree with it? Do you really feel that your faith is so vulnerable?

What a sad, scary little world you live in.


Those with strong beliefs will not easily be deceived by "education"

The "doctrines of men" are easily disproved but there are plenty of them in college. Students should challenge them more but most are there to get their certification and don't like to make waves.

There are things that these colleges can teach you. There is not conflict between true science and true religion, but there are false religious precepts and "science falsely so called".

Zona Zone
Mesa, AZ

This article mention that "premartial sex." Karate is a personal choice, and as long as the karate is consensual, who is it harming?

ute alumni
Tengoku, UT

I hate to tell santorum, but education is a good thing. Maybe with his religious background it is better to be told what you should and shouldn't know and study. Last I knew, LDS are told to read, ponder and pray and make up their own mind. There are many others that are raised to believe thinking for oneself is a bad thing.

Hyrum, Ut

"Hopefully more room will continue to open up within the LDS faith for more metaphorical understanding of scriptures."

Metaphorical Understanding of the Scriptures?

Hopefully each individual will create a relationship with the Lord and come to know for themselves what they need to know so they can gain the promised eternal life.

Hopefully we will listen to the prophets, seers, and revelators and gain an understanding.

Hopefully we can each gain a true understanding and not morph the word of God into what we want it to be!

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT


Your comment offers a very interesting point. I don't know that any measure of prevention could work work for various reasons. But I would offer one observation which I think addresses that same concern. Education is controlled by policy, government, and ultimately our society. If our society doesn't preach tolerance for other beliefs and that freedom of conscience is of paramount importance- if our society doesn't preach that one should look for true principles without prejudice against religion, science, etc. then our education system will not be any different.

I believe spreading true principles to those willing to listen is most effective. I relate it to LDS missionary work, at least in that this system functions to serve the goal of teaching others instead of criticizing different beliefs or trying to fix a broken system like a government. The church is clearly more focused on missionary work than it is on politics. I think that is a great example on fixing problems. Politics/policy matters, but convincing others to uphold true principles in those roles is paramount. Perhaps we ought to fix our broken values as a society as our first priority, then try fixing broken education, government, etc.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

President Hinckley defined well the LDS view of education:

You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field.

You belong to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, "Teach ye diligently ¦ of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms - that ye may be prepared in all things" (D&C 88:78Â80).

There is more but I don't have room.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

In defense of DaleC,

I think a fair examination of their comparing educators to pedophiles would require looking at whether something is "right or wrong". If one compared 'how wrong' the act is, then I think we would miss the point of their comment entirely.

A teacher who is trying to teach youth wrong principles, to be biased and unreasonably prejudicial in all their decisions would be causing harm to their students. This is no different in principle than what a rapist does. Clearly this is not as serious as a "wrong", but in principle- there is a valid comparison. We try to protect the innocent- we ought to try to protect students all the same.

I think we all can understand the credibility of DaleC's comment if we are willing to give it a chance. I gave it my full consideration and that is how I interpreted their comment. By my interpretation- they were not comparing the seriousness of a teacher doing wrong to a pedophile- but simply the principle of protecting the innocent.

If that was the intention of their examination, then it is a very noble cause. Criticizing those trying to protect the innocent is not credible.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

This is a very well written article and very timely. I have been in higher education for most of my adult life and recently had this conversation with some of my colleagues. As it turns out, most described themselves as believers who went to church regularly, while I was not. We concluded that the difference between us wasn't one of education but of one's world view.

I have found that higher education is accepting of divergent world views, including religious ones. Its a place to learn how to get along with people who have ideas different from your own. Only those who wish to have a strangle hold on people's minds would find that threatening.

  • 11:40 a.m. March 12, 2012
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Columbus, OH

@ A Voice:

Unfortunately, you are buying into the same problematic assumption as DaleC: that not having faith in God is a "wrong." Last I checked, this country was founded on the principle that people could believe anything they wanted to believe. Not believing in God does not make you a bad person. It does not mean are more likely to cause harm in society. Atheists are no more dangerous than the religious. Sure, there are activist atheists who resort to personal attacks against the religious, but the same is true of religious zealots.

As I understand Mormon teachings, not believing in God is wrong. But so is believing in Buddhism, Islam, or Judaism. Should we not allow Buddhists, Muslims, or Jews have influence on our children either? I'm sorry, but comparing an atheist, who has committed no foul act, to a pedophile cannot be interpreted any other way than as offensive.

West Valley, UT

Being exposed to the world will test anybody, but being tested is what life is all about. Expand your horizons and learn about people, cultures and values that are different from your own. It is a big world, but at the same time it can be very small. We must learn to coexist nonjudgmentally with our fellow man if we hope to survive in the postmodern era.

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