Comments about ‘Why some college students leave their faith’

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Published: Friday, July 19 2013 2:05 p.m. MDT

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Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

My experience is that for the first time the really start looking at ALL the evidence, not just certain bits and pieces of what their parents and religious leaders tell them.

My experience is anytime a religion hides certain parts of what they believe or their past, knowing that calls into question what they teach, the best solution is to RUN.

I have seen the many times here in our state. At college kids finally start asking "why" and "is that really what happened" and "where is the evidence"

These are all appropriate questions and I applaud anyone who finds the truth and takes appropriate action.

spring street

There is nothing wrong with religion being entertaining, short, sweet, and to the point. Read the Sermon on the Mount. It is not long and boring nor is it heavy on the fire and brimstone.

The problem with modern religion and college students is the backhanded way many religions approach the teachings of Christ. Instead of teaching the principles and how to make decisions, children are given ultimatums and lied to. (Look at the lies in abstinence only education if you need an example. Or look at the lies about drinking. Both sex and drinking have natural, real world consequences - why use lies when the truth is so much more powerful?)

As soon as they learn critical thinking they realize they were taught faith on a foundation of lies and have no way of reconciling it with reality.

Teach children right from wrong, but teach it as real life. Give them the skills they need to have faith and function in the real world and they won't have to choose.

But if you lie to kids about the simple things, why should they believe you about the difficult things?

Orem, UT

I'm not sure that critical thinking and the appeal of reason are as important to the growth of atheism as is the desire for people to participate in religion on their own terms. People want to hear their own callings, not be squeezed into someone else's idea of a good life. When they can't do it, they find an excuse to leave.

What we find with secular humanists is that soon enough they are building their own value systems which are inherently irrational. All reasons for meaning and value are subjective and personal, not objective.

I'm willing to be indulgent in fairy tales, so long as they don't waste my time. Good stories make for good lives. Secondly, don't build authority structures around subjective reality. That's an infringement on human conscience. Good stories don't need policing; they are their own reason for loyalty. If you have to standardize and correlate a story, it isn't worth telling. It becomes commodity.

Give me stories I can personally relate to, and take away the hierarchies that turn them into recruiting clubs full of single-minded blind people.

Poplar Grove, UT

I know I made this decision and personally for me it was because of the Bible. Not the book itself, but the way it applies to religion. There isn't a single religion out there that follows EVERYTHING in the bible. Mormons, Catholics, Baptists etc. all pick and choose what parts they agree with and disagree with. How can a book be the word of God, but we only have to follow some of it?

American Fork, UT

Without the threat of force to maintain it, religion doesn't make sense to a lot of people. Nothing wrong with that.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Some recent studies have found that atheists and agnostics know a lot more about religion than religious folks. Maybe that's a big part of the reason.

the old switcharoo
mesa, AZ

Well, many of us have faith but the fact is that religion is also a control mechanism. When you have kids you suddenly want them to be well behaved and taught good values so church is important. When you are single and only concerned with yourself it can fade in importance to many people, especially if the peer pressures are to turn away from those values as in the impulse driven world of college.

Iron rod.

salt lake, UT


Considering the shifting sands droven by power and control that religions are built on I would much sooner take my chances with people that utilize compassion and reason then religion.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

Religion is what you do religiously. Make good habits. It your habits that will bring you home. But by the Grace of God, go I. It about being gracious. Religion is a wonderful thing when taken in moderation.


@ pmccombs: Needing a book to tell you how to treat others is not an indication that you have faith, but that you lack compassion and empathy.

As noodlekaboodle pointed out, there is not a single religion that follows all parts of the Bible - the religions themselves pick and choose what parts they believe in and they further pick and choose the interpretation of those parts - different religions believe the same part of the Bible means different things. And members of the religions assign their own values and meanings to the various tenets and decide whether or not to follow them and to what extent. Followed by casting judgement on fellow members - including leaders - whose interpretations vary from theirs.

Coffee is bad hot but okay chilled or frozen. Alcohol is bad, unless you are cooking with it. Fake marajuana cooked up in a lab, although ineffective, is okay for medical use but the actual herb provided by God is not. Love thy neighbor only applies to neighbors who are like you and whom you already like. And that whole little part about judge not, why we can just ignore that entirely.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

The answer, of course, is that it's not truth. There is wisdom in religion but rarely truth.
Truth, being an absolute term cannot have any inconsistencies. Truth & inconsistency are mutually exclusive.
Every religion on earth is riddled with inconsistencies.
Open minded college kids will see that right away.

Bountiful, UT

Roland Kayser nailed it. When you study a lot of religions, and note the myriad internal inconsistencies and inadequacies, but also observe the genuine religious fervor in people, you question your own background and thinking.

This doesn't mean there isn't a higher power. Just that the traditional, human-driven ideologies in religions are just that, contrived by humans, with truth claims that are not believable, especially when you see similar "evidences" (ie, spiritual manifestations) in religions that contradict each other.

Res Novae
Ashburn, VA

The linked article lays much of the blame on not building proper faith (or what we might call testimonies in the LDS faith) in youth before college, instead emphasizing fun activities. It laments not focusing enough on building youth with strong convictions.

My take is that this might be true among some, but I think it excludes the major factor that most college students are away from home for the first time, gaining a sense of independence, and at a natural state in their cognitive development where they place distance between themselves and parents/upbringing. This is observable not just in their religious attitudes, but their politics, their views on authority, their need for justice/fairness, etc. There's an innate need to 'shake things up' coupled with lack of nuance - the 60s countercultural movement is the epitome of that.

Some kids move out of this stage, see wisdom in the things of their youth, and re-adopt them. Others remain determined to set off on their own. As a religious person, I have my preferences for which way I'd like them to go, but the path is theirs. And it won't end until long after college.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

re: Tolstoy


Why did Constantine adopt Christianity? There was already a bureaucracy in place to keep the masses in line.

Here is an interesting side note.. The word religion may be derived may from religare which means to restrain.

Phoenix, AZ

The big reason why college students leave thei faith is because they get an educatin and throw off thei ignorant supersttions.

Salt Lake City, UT

A careful, honest, open and objective examination of religion and religious texts has always been and always will be the most certain path to atheism.

Hayden, ID

Faith has been defined in scripture as evidences of things not seen which are true. The reason some people lose their faith is they stop looking for evidences to believe and begin looking for reasons not to believe. Absence of observed evidence for some is not evidence of absence for those of faith. Failure to observe evidences is a problem for those who lack faith. If they can't see the evidences they wrongly assume no one can.

Orem, UT


I think you are jumping to the wrong conclusion about what I said. You are making unwarranted assumptions. Stories are found in more than just books, and they don't necessarily have to say anything at all about compassion. I am not suggesting that people need religion in order to be good. I am saying that there are stories that inspire people and they should seek them out. It doesn't have to be in a Bible, but whatever it is, it gives them some reasons why things matter.

You have a story about compassion. It tells you why compassion is important. It doesn't come from a book, perhaps, but I never claimed it had to. All that matters is that you find it compelling and prefer it to the stories of others.

The Skeptical Chymist

I still like Archie Bunker's definition of faith best: "Faith is believing what no one in their right mind would believe."


@ pmccombs: after I posted my comment, I went back and reread yours and realized I had misunderstood your point. Thank you for your patience in explaining it again. :)

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