Does higher education experience undermine faith — or enhance it?

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  • zabivka Orem, UT
    March 16, 2012 12:32 a.m.

    @Ultra Bob

    What a great post. My sentiments exactly!

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    March 13, 2012 8:39 p.m.

    Re: A Scientist 6:55 p.m. March 13, 2012

    But, I'm deducing you have a Masters (at least) in a Natural or Social Science... a bastion of those evils liberals.

    Had you gotten your MBA & started an MLM then you'd still probably be one of the chosen ones.

    Sarcasm off??

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    March 13, 2012 8:36 p.m.

    @ RedShirt 12:48 p.m. March 12, 2012

    Religious institutions are more balanced i.e less biased? Really?

    Not exposing yourself to new ideas, new civilizations... What would James T Kirk say?

    If anything Higher Ed is a "breeding ground" for Deism.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    March 13, 2012 7:14 p.m.

    Every person who comes into this world comes as an atheist. Only indoctrination imbues the human mind with the idea of a god, just as it imbues some minds with the idea of Santa Claus.

    Your arguments are patently absurd.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    March 13, 2012 6:55 p.m.

    All I know is that I was a true blue Latter-day Saint, very strong in the faith, until I went to grad school at BYU.

    Just sayin'

  • LeeCrites Canyon, Texas
    March 13, 2012 9:14 a.m.

    @OBHU asked "How is having an atheist person have access to a Christian kid any more offensive than having a Christian person have access to an atheist kid?"

    For a secular individual, DaleC's assertion and A Voice's defense of it might sound strange. Pascal's Wager aside, the intent of an athiest who is in control of the mind of a student is to take something away from them -- their belief in God. The intent of a Christian is not the same.

    The same could be said of other advocacy groups, but we are not talking about them, so I will hold comment on those. Athiests see Christianity as a threat. Christians are an easy target today, and athiests love to take that advantage. I knew the religious views and stand of every athiest instructor I had. And I had to mimic them in class. But not the Christians or Buddhists.

    Like it or not, from what I have seen, DaleC's assertion really is more valid than any of the criticisms of it have been.

  • LeeCrites Canyon, Texas
    March 13, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    Two comments: 1) There is no discussion of the type of religion people come away from higher education believing in. The increase in "non denominational" religions could easily explain the increase they see. Furthermore, someone entering as a Christian and leaving as a Buddhist might not be seen as a positive move by some, irrespective of their level of activity.

    2) I can easily explain how "people of faith" could be stronger the more educated they are, and not disagree with prevailing assumptions. It goes like this: the more you keep your faith in a faithless environment, the stronger your faith has to become. Hence, it might be that the stats presented are more a reflection of a negative reaction to the secular education than a positive one.

    It is sometimes very easy to see the potential flaws in a study. Without looking at the full details of their methodology, however, taking potshots at it might not be at all legitimate. But at first glance, this sounds like an incomplete study which might not actually answer the query posited, even though it sounds like it does. Those can be the most dangerous kind.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    March 12, 2012 11:18 p.m.

    Pres. Benson said in 1980, and it has been quoted several times in general conference in the last 4 years: the people who have the hardest time following the prophets: the prideful who are rich and the prideful who are educated. Very few rich and very few educated people accept baptism. Pres. Kimball said decades ago and it was quoted in last years Engsign (April or June---on welfare---on last page), that if you are rich, you need to give 10 times the amount of fast offerings that others give. Many educated and rich do give to charity, I admit. Yet we seldom like to quote the Lord on the chances of a rich man entering heaven.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    March 12, 2012 11:15 p.m.

    I had good experiences attending two different universities as I earned my two degrees. I chose to take advantage of activities and associations that strengthened my faith. had re than one professor during those years who seemed bent on destroying my faith, or at least challenging it.

    The real danger to one's principals is not the "attacks" from college faculty, but rather taking them for granted and not using them. I don't gain weight by eating fast food, I gain weight by not exercising and by thinking that fast food is actually healthy food. Either way, the ultimate choice is mine. I chose to use my education to gain something; not to lose something.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 12, 2012 10:14 p.m.

    Ultra Bob,

    I agree that life is a wonderful, exciting thing. Often (though not always) pleasant.

    I look at religion as far more than just hope (though it is that as well). It is faith, insight, knowledge, love, and a host of other things. For me, it has never been just about belief but about truth. I know, that is a loaded word. But I feel that it reveals the why. That still leaves plenty of the how, when and where to be discovered by the human mind.

    I agree that our joy will exceed that of grass. But my point is that our purpose would be no greater. Life would be life - no species of greater or lesser importance. There would be no discerning presence to rank such importance anyway. We would all simply be competitors for the planet's resources.

    Anyway, I wish you well. Perhaps someday we can talk more. Until then.


  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    March 12, 2012 8:53 p.m.

    I think there is a general attack on traditional and religious values in most colleges and universities. However, this does not mean individuals (of adult age) can't maintain their own values based on their own investigation of these matters and what they previously held coming to college. Indeed, there are also plenty of colleges and universities that promote traditional and religious values as part of their mission. Most state colleges will be the opposite littered with liberal and ultraliberal philosophies, but again so what? Being exposed to different ideas doesn't doom one to that ideology and it might even cause one to strengthen themselves in what they believe in.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 12, 2012 7:55 p.m.

    Twin Lights.

    Thank you for your kind response.

    Whether or not there is a Creator, life for many of us is a wonderful, exciting, pleasant experience in itself. If the world ends when I die, I would have no complaints. Even if I could know them.

    For those who do not or did not, enjoy the ride, I am truly glad that there is something called religion that often makes a bad thing bearable. Even in the most terrible, horrible, unbearable times religion gives one hope and that in itself is worth the trouble. Whether or not it is true does not matter. All one has to do is believe.

    If there is a God, that is wonderful. But if not, the future for human beings with all the things to be discovered, all the knowledge to be learned, all the joy to be had will probably exceed that of grass.

  • Willy Hammer Salt Lake City, UT
    March 12, 2012 5:01 p.m.

    The question, "Does education experience undermine faith--or enhance it?" is a false dichotomy.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 12, 2012 4:25 p.m.

    Ultra Bob,

    I would respectfully disagree. I have not found education to be contrary to religion. I have tried hard to ensure that my children receive a good education along with a strong foundation in religion.

    I still think there is much science has yet to explain but that is neither a critique of science nor a support for religion. Simply an observation that each question answered by science seems to then create the next series of questions to pursue.

    Yes, life and death bring us the most powerful of emotional connection. I cannot prove to you that life is divine. For me, it has been something I have felt inside well before my association with the LDS faith.

    In general, I find that my religion does not address each detail of creation, but provides an overall look with an emphasis on the why. The why informs our purpose.

    If there is no Creator, there is no why, and our purpose is that of the grass - to live, to propagate, and to die. Nothing more. In the grand scheme, there is then no more of importance to the life or death of a human than to that of a carrot.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 12, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    Education of the how, what and why of our world seems to defeat the cause of religion. In the way-back there were Gods for anything and everything that could not be explained in the minds of the humans of that time. But as education exposed the truth about the unexplainable, the Gods fell away as easily as they came.

    Today the only really unexplainable thing of consequence to our lives is the nature of life and death. Although there are many unexplainable things still with us, we seems to have stopped assigning Gods to them.

    Life and death is our greatest joy and most terrible fear. There seems to be an extremely strong something about life that drives it to persist and survive, even in the most inhospitable places and conditions. The argument that human life is different and better than other forms of life is yet to be proven.

    I think that someday we will understand the nature of life. Through education and the processes of finding the truth about just what it is, and if it is caused by a God.

  • TJ Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 12, 2012 2:06 p.m.

    Higher education enhances faith without question. It is a few morons teach who attempt to undermine. Some of the u of u professors are intolerable with their bashing of the LDS, and other faiths. They trash subjects in classesn that have nothing to do with philosophy, yet feel they have to use thier stage to bash religion.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 12, 2012 1:32 p.m.

    @ A Voice,

    But you continue to put forth the assumption that someone who teaches a viewpoint contrary to religious belief is "intentionally misleading students." Let's pick a hot button issue: evolution. If a teacher teaches the scientific theory of evolution to a kid that believes in creationism, s/he is not "intentionally misleading students," as DaleC seems to believe. ather, they are teaching a viewpoint that does not line up with what that child or his parents believe. Your comment was made in defense of DaleC who asserted that letting anti-religious people have access to kids is the same as letting pedophiles have access to kids. There was no mention of the anti-religious person harming the children. How is having an atheist person have access to a Christian kid any more offensive than having a Christian person have access to an atheist kid?

  • Melanna Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 12, 2012 1:19 p.m.

    The problem is that these kids are getting to college and having their assumptions challenged. And if there has been some "lying for Jesus" going on, then those lies are going to be exposed and kids are not going to have any defense to the challenges. This is going to make them question everything else they have been taught.

    Teach your children right. Teach them the truth. Then things will be alright.

    An example of this is the idea that the earth is only 6000 years old. That will not hold up to scrutiny and when the lie is proven, everything else becomes suspect.

    Teach your children real science and to not be afraid of it and then there will be no conflicts between religion and what they are learning in school and their faith will not be challenged.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    March 12, 2012 1:12 p.m.

    Certainly cannot get much stranger, or more pathetic than people being frightened of education.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    March 12, 2012 1:08 p.m.


    I did not state or imply that "not having faith in God is a 'wrong'". Rather that promoting prejudice against religious claims is wrong. Those are completely different statements.

    I support and uphold freedom to believe. That is different than my saying "it's morally wrong to teach religious prejudice."

    Furthermore, I referenced faith as a principle independent of religious claims. I did reference the Lectures on Faith, but only as it relates to the principle in general. I could offer a religious examination on the same principle all the same; but contrary to your premises, I made no such argument.

    Faith is a principle of learning, of having evidence that there is observable information that is yet unobserved. It is a hope for more knowledge- Prejudice against a sources of an argument is an ad hominem fallacy- which denies progress and its motivating faith.


    Comparing a pedophile to a teacher intentionally misleading students to a drug-dealer all share logically valid comparisons in regards to their function in a system of morality. They are all wrong and worth prevention. No one compared 'how wrong' they are.

    Your claims rely on a misrepresentation of other's statements- the Straw-man Fallacy.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    March 12, 2012 12:48 p.m.

    It is funny to read the comments here. It seems like people forget that the humanities, arts, and non-hard sciences courses (physics, chemestry, engineering) are taught by liberals. If you want to escape much of the garbage taught by the liberal elites, don't major in the fields dominated by the liberal elites.

    Or, if you want to avoid the liberal indoctrination more while getting your degree, there are religious universities and private colleges that are much more balanced in their teaching staffs.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 12, 2012 12:37 p.m.

    This comes back to whether or not adults in our society have the right to their own personal faith or not. We're all in this journey, and hopefully without much judgement we can choose ourown path. Some will lose faith and some will gain it, whether or not they achieved higher education. There's value in higher education, as well as faith. Don't fret so much over someone elses' decision.

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    March 12, 2012 12:06 p.m.

    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.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 12, 2012 11:44 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    March 12, 2012 11:40 a.m.

    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.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    March 12, 2012 11:18 a.m.

    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.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 12, 2012 11:08 a.m.

    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
    March 12, 2012 11:06 a.m.


    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.

  • IJ Hyrum, Ut
    March 12, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    "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!

  • ute alumni Tengoku, UT
    March 12, 2012 10:29 a.m.

    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.

  • Zona Zone Mesa, AZ
    March 12, 2012 10:21 a.m.

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

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    March 12, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    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".

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 12, 2012 10:09 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 12, 2012 10:06 a.m.

    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.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 12, 2012 10:01 a.m.

    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.

  • DaleC Magna, UT
    March 12, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    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?

  • kibitzer Magna, UT
    March 12, 2012 9:40 a.m.

    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.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    March 12, 2012 9:37 a.m.

    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.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 12, 2012 8:14 a.m.

    I would add that the statistic that Santorum raised was pretty close to 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 serious man Rexburg, ID
    March 12, 2012 7:59 a.m.

    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.

  • HighlandsHome Highland, Utah
    March 12, 2012 7:48 a.m.

    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.

  • JP71 Ogden, UT
    March 12, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    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.