The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Great Debates

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-16-2010, 01:22 AM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Relationship of Education and Religion

It's frequently asserted on this board and elsewhere that the two things mentioned in the title are inversely related; that is, that as a society becomes more educated it becomes less religious. I think that in many cases the facts point to the exact opposite conclusion: most societies can expect to become more religious as they become more educated. Here are just a few of the many examples. (I've provided cites where I could find them, but all are discussed in detail with precise figures in the book God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.

Example 1: the USA. Early in their history, very few citizens of the thirteen colonies were religious. In the year 1710 it's estimated that only about ten percent of the colonists belonged to a church. After the Great Awakening the figure rose, yet it wasn't until the 19th century that the USA developed its current character of having the most diverse and active religious life among large western countries. And it was in the nineteenth century as well that public education became widely available.

Example 2: South Korea. A hundred years ago South Korea's education system was typical for a third-world nation: all but non-existent for much of the populace. Today South Korea is near the top in terms of the length of education an average citizen will get. In the same period of time, Christianity has expanded from insignificance to now soon to be a majority religion in the country.

Example 3: China. It wasn't too long ago that Chairman Mao was trying to China's fairly small college-educated elite eliminated as enemies of the people. He was also trying to have China's even smaller Christian community eliminated as enemies of the people. His successors, however, realized that higher education might actually be beneficial. Today there are at least seventy million Chinese Christians, maybe more. (It's hard to count exactly because many are still hiding for fear of persecution.)

Example 4: Brazil. Most Americans have a stereotype of all Latin America as completely Catholic. While most Brazilians describe themselves as Catholic, few typically attend church or participate in religious life at all. However, in the past generation there's been a huge upsurge in many other denominations in Brazil, and there are now 26 million evangelicals in the country. Brazil's education system has improved moderately in that time. A similar story is unfolding in many Latin American countries.

Advocates of the 'more education leads to less religion' argument have often pointed to western Europe. It's true that since WWII religious participation has plunged almost everywhere in western Europe. Many people simply assumed that what happened there would repeat itself across the world. However, Micklethwait and Wooldridge basically make it the theme of their book that no such thing has happened. Virtually everywhere else you look on earth, what's unfolding is exactly the opposite. They point out that a typical church in China or elsewhere in East Asia is likely to have a congregation of relatively young, well-educated professionals. It's not unreasonable to predict that such people will play a larger-than-average role in shaping the future of their countries. Hence the future looks bright for religion worldwide.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 07-16-2010, 02:38 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by ITR champion View Post
Example 1: the USA. Early in their history, very few citizens of the thirteen colonies were religious. In the year 1710 it's estimated that only about ten percent of the colonists belonged to a church. After the Great Awakening the figure rose, yet it wasn't until the 19th century that the USA developed its current character of having the most diverse and active religious life among large western countries. And it was in the nineteenth century as well that public education became widely available.
I'm kinda skeptical of this, perhaps "belong to a church" means something more formal then being religious, but I have trouble believing 1710 America was 90% Athiest, which is what your post here seems to suggest.

Quote:
Example 2: South Korea. A hundred years ago South Korea's education system was typical for a third-world nation: all but non-existent for much of the populace. Today South Korea is near the top in terms of the length of education an average citizen will get. In the same period of time, Christianity has expanded from insignificance to now soon to be a majority religion in the country.
This only really relates to your thesis if S. Korea was areligious one-hundred years ago and the rise of Christianity there has also corresponded to a rise in religion in general, rather then people simply switching from other religions. The S. Korea demographics page on wiki claims S. Korea is close to 50% athiest, I guess if they were 100% athiest 100 years ago then religiousity has spread there with the rise of general education, but I suspect that 1900 S. Korea was primarily Buddhist (still the second largest group after athiests, according to wiki), and has now moved to Athiesm and Christianity.

Quote:
Example 3: China. It wasn't too long ago that Chairman Mao was trying to China's fairly small college-educated elite eliminated as enemies of the people. He was also trying to have China's even smaller Christian community eliminated as enemies of the people. His successors, however, realized that higher education might actually be beneficial. Today there are at least seventy million Chinese Christians, maybe more. (It's hard to count exactly because many are still hiding for fear of persecution.)
So is China today more religious or less then it was when there was less general education? Again, you're just stating that there are a bunch of Christians, which doesn't really do anything relevant to your thesis.

Quote:
Example 4: Brazil. Most Americans have a stereotype of all Latin America as completely Catholic. While most Brazilians describe themselves as Catholic, few typically attend church or participate in religious life at all. However, in the past generation there's been a huge upsurge in many other denominations in Brazil, and there are now 26 million evangelicals in the country. Brazil's education system has improved moderately in that time. A similar story is unfolding in many Latin American countries.
So is Brazil more or less religious then it used to be? I don't really see how a move from Catholicism to Evangelicalism really means much one way or the other.

Quote:
They point out that a typical church in China or elsewhere in East Asia is likely to have a congregation of relatively young, well-educated professionals. It's not unreasonable to predict that such people will play a larger-than-average role in shaping the future of their countries. Hence the future looks bright for religion worldwide.
A christian church, or just any religious congregation? You really seem to be confusing "Evangelical Christianity" with religion.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-16-2010, 04:01 AM
footballisplayedwithyourfeet footballisplayedwithyourfeet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
A nice overview article (Iannaccone, L.R., 1998. “Introduction to the Economics of Religion” Journal of Economic Literature 36: 350-364) on religion and economics mentions how this relationship between education and religion is still very prevalent in the social sciences without having any empirical support for it. Greenley (1993) and Warner (1989) - sorry, no time for full refferences - find that this 'secularization hypothesis' is just wrong.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-16-2010, 04:37 AM
UDS UDS is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Historically, there are plenty of examples of increased levels of education being positively correlated with growth in the significance and influence of organised relation – not least because an awful lot of religious philosophies assign a positive value to learning and study and, when they achieve the status of organised religion, one of the things they organise to do is to establish schools, universities, libraries and the like.

But in the nineteenth century, in the western world, there grew up a widespread received opinion that growth in education would lead to the withering away of religious belief. I suggest that this was based on generalising from a particular kind of education characteristic of that time and place, and from a particular kind of religious belief, ditto. Some secular thinkers who still operate within this nineteenth-century paradigm continue to assert this view, despite the obstinate failure of history to unfold according to it.

The truth is that the correlation between religious belief and education is neither uniformly positive, nor uniformly negative. A great many things beside education affect religious belief. Furthermore education, and other factors, can operate to change the religious beliefs people hold as much as to cause people simply to abandon all religious beliefs.

Evidence for the evolution of life on earth provides a clear example. Those holding religious beliefs inconsistent with the evidence of science can react to the evidence by (a) ignoring it, (b) abandoning all religious belief or (c) modifying their religious beliefs in light of what they have learnt. We can find examples of all three, but the expectation of some that (a) would be the commonest reaction has not, I think, been borne out.

I’ve seen various studies of people who have abandoned religious belief and practice – sorry, no cite. Only a small minority cite education or knowledge as their reason for doing so. The great bulk give philosophical or experiential accounts of their reasons – they experienced hostility, or hypocrisy, or a lack of support, or they felt uncomfortable with the attitudes of the church they belonged to, or they failed to perceive any personal benefit from engaging in religious practice, or they drifted away and found they weren’t missing anything. I don’t think any of those experiences are particularly connected with education.

Last edited by UDS; 07-16-2010 at 04:37 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-16-2010, 07:46 AM
Meatros Meatros is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
I'm kinda skeptical of this, perhaps "belong to a church" means something more formal then being religious, but I have trouble believing 1710 America was 90% Athiest, which is what your post here seems to suggest.
I'm very skeptical of this too - in fact, I think that Michael Shermer addressed this in his book "How we believe", but I don't have a cite handy.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-16-2010, 01:49 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Springfield, IL
Posts: 17,758
Quote:
Originally Posted by ITR champion View Post
It's frequently asserted on this board and elsewhere that the two things mentioned in the title are inversely related; that is, that as a society becomes more educated it becomes less religious. I think that in many cases the facts point to the exact opposite conclusion: most societies can expect to become more religious as they become more educated.
It's clear to me that religion and education can reinforce one another, on an individual or a societal level. After all, many of the US's educational institutions were founded by religious organnizations for religious motives.

Quote:
Example 1: the USA. Early in their history, very few citizens of the thirteen colonies were religious. In the year 1710 it's estimated that only about ten percent of the colonists belonged to a church.
I wonder how much of this is simply due to the sparseness of the population, that made institutions of any kind—including religious and educational institutions—less tenable. If your nearest neighbor is a mile away, you don't have access to education or religion beyond being home-schooled and home-churched; and without the mutual support of other educated (or religious) people, it's easier to let the educational (or religious) side of your own life lapse.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-16-2010, 02:45 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 34,244
The OP's argument is pretty spurious. if you wish to see if there is a correlation between education and religion, you must make sure other factors are equal. In the US there were waves of religious revival (kind of like fads) and comparing religion before and during such a fad means nothing. If, for instance there is an increase in social pressure for church attendance (like during the '50s here) and a rise in education, you can't ignore the former and claim that a rise in religion is correlated to the latter. What you would need is a study in which religious belief between people of roughly the same background is compared to level of education. None of the examples in the OP come anywhere close to doing this. I'm not even disputing the premise, just the analysis.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-16-2010, 04:56 PM
Odesio Odesio is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
I'm kinda skeptical of this, perhaps "belong to a church" means something more formal then being religious, but I have trouble believing 1710 America was 90% Athiest, which is what your post here seems to suggest.
His post didn't even come close to claiming that 90% of those living in colonial America were atheist. What his post suggests is that Americans at the time weren't particularly religious in that the didn't go to church which is a far far cry from atheism.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-16-2010, 06:04 PM
Revenant Threshold Revenant Threshold is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Really, there's way too much being made of a correlation.

Honestly what your example say, to me, is that over time, there are many countries for whom education has gradually improved. In the world in general, education levels improve with time. So it's pretty easy to then look and see which countries have also increased in their religiosity and then claim that the two are linked. It's also rather odd to note Western Europe as an exception and then downplay it as much as the OP apparently has. We're a reasonably significant group, over here.

I should also note that I am hugely suspicious that for three of the OP's examples, the religion in question happens to be Christianity. Surely a rise in Christianity in the regions in question does not necessitate a rise in religiousness in general? Really, you could have both a rise in Christianity, and yet a drop in religiousness overall.

It's also interesting to note that odd confluence of both the point that Christians in China are sadly pretty damn persecuted, as a whole, and then a merry sign off that of course the future is bright for all those young, professional Chinese Christians who'll surely have their say in how things are running in the future.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-16-2010, 06:19 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Jinan, China
Posts: 7,680
Quote:
Originally Posted by ITR champion View Post

Example 2: South Korea. A hundred years ago South Korea's education system was typical for a third-world nation: all but non-existent for much of the populace. Today South Korea is near the top in terms of the length of education an average citizen will get. In the same period of time, Christianity has expanded from insignificance to now soon to be a majority religion in the country.
"South Korea" did not exist as a country 100 years ago. And while Christianity has expanded here in the last 60 years, approximately 25% of Koreans self-identify as Christians, 25% do so as Buddhists,and about half do not describe themselves as religious at all. (Source: CiA World Fact Book)
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-16-2010, 06:24 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Odesio View Post
His post didn't even come close to claiming that 90% of those living in colonial America were atheist. What his post suggests is that Americans at the time weren't particularly religious in that the didn't go to church which is a far far cry from atheism.
He doesn't come close to suggeting much of anything, since it isn't clear "belonging to a church" means. Regular church attendence doesn't seem wildly more likely then atheism, but in anycase, if it doesn't mean atheism, then it isn't really clear that its a good proxy of religiosity. As others said, that isolated farmers didn't regularly attend services until the country became more developed doesn't necessarily mean they got more religious, just that relgiion got easier.

FWIW, page 80 of this book says church attendence in 1700 was 50-75%. And a few years earlier Mass. colony had arrested 150 people for witchcraft, which seems a weird activity for a non-religious people.

FWIW, I doubt increased education does cause increased secularizatoin. But the OP doesn't really show anything either way accept "hey look, theres some Catholics in China!!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Revenant Threshold
Really, there's way too much being made of a correlation.
Eh, it would be a better argument if he did make too much out of correlation. But the OP doesn't even get as far as correlating religiousness with education, since in none of the cases does he show increased religion.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-16-2010, 06:46 PM
Stoneburg Stoneburg is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Historically I think there was a very strong causal correlation between religion and education since religion WAS education. I think that the interesting thing is educations connection to science.

After the enlightment the connection education-science was made and gradually more and more moved from education-religion to the new system. Now only theology has the connection-education unless you count madrasses and other religious schools.

Since the start of science I think education has had an inversely proportional effect on religion and I think it still does. The world values survey is very interesting here:

http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs...rticle_base_54

The Y-axis measures traditional vs secular/rational values. In general the countries that are highest, Japan, Sweden... have a very high average (or rather median) of education.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-16-2010, 06:48 PM
Revenant Threshold Revenant Threshold is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
Eh, it would be a better argument if he did make too much out of correlation. But the OP doesn't even get as far as correlating religiousness with education, since in none of the cases does he show increased religion.
There's no problem with a good argument of correlation. But here it just seems to be "this happened; this happened around the same time, therefore, the one affected the other". It's too vague and too unreasoned to be of much use.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-16-2010, 09:57 PM
athelas athelas is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: In Transit
Posts: 3,351
Quote:
Originally Posted by footballisplayedwithyourfeet View Post
A nice overview article (Iannaccone, L.R., 1998. “Introduction to the Economics of Religion” Journal of Economic Literature 36: 350-364) on religion and economics mentions how this relationship between education and religion is still very prevalent in the social sciences without having any empirical support for it. Greenley (1993) and Warner (1989) - sorry, no time for full refferences - find that this 'secularization hypothesis' is just wrong.
Heh...which hypothesis; the secularization hypothesis or the null hypothesis, is more likely to be accepted without question (on faith, if you like) by predominantly atheist/agnostic university professors?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-17-2010, 09:48 AM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
In Colonial America belonging to a church cost money, which not everyone had. Go to Old North Church in Boston and you can still see the private pews. Evangelical Christianity led to the growth of "low overhead" churches with non-ordained ministry, people meeting in their homes, less expensive trappings like vestments and gilded alters, and other developments that allowed more people to go attend church.

ETA: Oh, and Communist China killed and imprisoned religious people, so your base point has nothing to do with education. Prior to Mao and the Cultural Revolution religion was widespread in China.

Last edited by DanBlather; 07-17-2010 at 09:51 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 07-17-2010, 11:55 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneburg View Post
Since the start of science I think education has had an inversely proportional effect on religion and I think it still does. The world values survey is very interesting here:
I agree with this, or at least think that both general education and secularism are part of a more general "modernity" that tend to get packaged togeather as they spread through the world.

FWIW, along with its other flaws, the OP misses what I think is the best (or at least most obvious) counter-example to the above. The Greater Middle East has become much more modernized over the last seventy-five years, with oil wealth allowing for most of the things we associate with modern life becoming available, and high unemployment encouraging the middle and upper classes to spend a lot of time in higher education. And while I'm not sure if the general citizenry has become more religious (though its hard to belive they've become less), the governments of many Middle Eastern Countries have moved from nationalisitc, secular pan-arabic political parties and monarchies to Whabbist monarchies and theocracies.

Aside from that, I can't think of any country that have become "modern" without also becoming more secular both in terms of gov't and the beliefs of the general citizenry.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 07-17-2010, 11:59 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
I could buy that a global revival of faith is changing the world.

It's just not changing it in a good way.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 07-17-2010, 01:42 PM
cosmosdan cosmosdan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
I think the availability of education will change the face of religion over a period of generations. I don't the information in the OP indicates that education encourages religion. I can see in underdeveloped countries that ecucation might lead to a surge in religion as a phase of a population having more access, and maybe even more free time to ponder the large mysteries. One factor that must be considered is the presence of active missionaries. If a country opens up more and more missionaries there or conversion is being stressed you can expect rise in numbers.

Over time I think education will change the face of religion and the ratio of believers to agnostics and atheists. I have no reason, at this point, to believe education will eliminate religion. The mistakes of facts included in dogma pales in comparison to the emotional factors that make religion attractive to people.

Last edited by cosmosdan; 07-17-2010 at 01:43 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07-17-2010, 02:14 PM
Sitnam Sitnam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Our message board deserves a better prodigious religious proponent.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 07-17-2010, 07:08 PM
Nancarrow Nancarrow is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by ITR champion View Post
It's frequently asserted on this board and elsewhere that the two things mentioned in the title are inversely related; that is, that as a society becomes more educated it becomes less religious. I think that in many cases the facts point to the exact opposite conclusion:
There's your problem. Fuck 'many cases'. Come back when you have a statistical analysis of 'all cases'. Think that's too much too ask? Think 'many cases' gets us anywhere in understanding what's really happening? If so, you are wrong.

Edumacation.

Visual aid.

Last edited by Nancarrow; 07-17-2010 at 07:11 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 07-19-2010, 04:25 AM
footballisplayedwithyourfeet footballisplayedwithyourfeet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by athelas View Post
Heh...which hypothesis; the secularization hypothesis or the null hypothesis, is more likely to be accepted without question (on faith, if you like) by predominantly atheist/agnostic university professors?
The article states that a lot of people in academia (Proffesors, Grad students or who ever else gets published in academic journals on the subject) start from the premise or believe that with rises in education and income comes a decline in religiosity. So getting rich and educated makes you less religious (as a society), which doesn't sound entirely unlikely (to me at least). There is however no empirical evidence for this claim. Appearantly even college proffesors seem to be just as religious as other folk (with the exception of proffesors in the social sciences).
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 07-19-2010, 04:49 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: California
Posts: 36,431
Quote:
Originally Posted by footballisplayedwithyourfeet View Post
Appearantly even college proffesors seem to be just as religious as other folk (with the exception of proffesors in the social sciences).
IIRC the amount of religiosity in highly educated professionals tends to depend on their field. With biologists leaning heavily atheistic and engineers tending to be quite religious.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-19-2010, 07:06 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Springfield, IL
Posts: 17,758
Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
IIRC the amount of religiosity in highly educated professionals tends to depend on their field. With biologists leaning heavily atheistic and engineers tending to be quite religious.
Is there any evidence whether the correlation involves causation in one direction or the other?
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 07-26-2010, 08:59 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
The OP's argument is pretty spurious. if you wish to see if there is a correlation between education and religion, you must make sure other factors are equal.
This. You'd be hard-pressed to come up with noisier examples if you tried. The differences between the modern US and the US of the 1790s are so many that it would be impossible to do more than guess at the effect of education on religion.

When you do the study properly, by looking at a single society and controlling for other demographic factors, I believe you generally see a negative correlation (although not a particularly strong one) between education and religious belief.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 07-27-2010, 11:36 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
What a moronic OP- and if it's representative of God is Back, what a moronic book.

In fairness, if Christianity was the only religion, it would make perfect sense.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 08-01-2010, 10:18 AM
Stan Shmenge Stan Shmenge is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by footballisplayedwithyourfeet View Post
Appearantly even college proffesors seem to be just as religious as other folk (with the exception of proffesors in the social sciences).
IIRC the amount of religiosity in highly educated professionals tends to depend on their field. With biologists leaning heavily atheistic and engineers tending to be quite religious.
If an engineer screws up, people can die horribly. Maybe they figure a little prayer couldn't hurt?
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 06-20-2011, 03:13 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Tampa, Florida
Posts: 68,910
It does seem to be the case around the world that the more and longer industrialized a country is, the less religious it becomes. The trend is visible even in the U.S.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 06-20-2011, 06:36 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is online now
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,783
Mod Note

This thread was bumped by a spammer, but I'll leave it open.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 06-20-2011, 06:46 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: California
Posts: 36,431
Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
IIRC the amount of religiosity in highly educated professionals tends to depend on their field. With biologists leaning heavily atheistic and engineers tending to be quite religious.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Is there any evidence whether the correlation involves causation in one direction or the other?
Not that I know of. The most reasonable explanation that I've heard is that engineering deals with matters that most modern religious groups don't try to dispute anymore. So someone highly religious who is intelligent and technically inclined can become an engineer and have a career that will never challenge his beliefs.

Last edited by Der Trihs; 06-20-2011 at 06:46 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 06-20-2011, 08:03 AM
kanicbird kanicbird is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Religion is education, just different teachings then secular/standard schooling. Therefore the OP doesn't make much sense, unless you state that as one type of education grows the other shrinks, which sort of makes sense.

This I differentiate with a personal relationship with God, which is spiritual, not religious, in conventional context. Spiritual people are usually very non-religious.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 06-20-2011, 09:04 AM
Skammer Skammer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Music City USA
Posts: 12,649
Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
someone highly religious who is intelligent
This might be the first time you've ever acknowleged that such people exist.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 06-20-2011, 10:04 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneburg View Post
Historically I think there was a very strong causal correlation between religion and education since religion WAS education...
This is quite true. Historically in Western Europe, the Catholic Church was the educational authority in town. If you wanted to learn to read and write, you had to curry favor with the church such as expressing interest in joining a monastery or by becoming a priest. In fact, reading and writing was, for a time, largely concentrated among monastics and priests. Very few others, even the rich, could read or write. This survives in the English language with the word "clerk". Originally, it meant a priest or monastic person. Later, because those people were generally the only people who could read and write, it became a world meaning someone who can read or write, regardless of whether or not they held a position in the Church. Later, we re-imported the word from Latin as "cleric" and assigned it something closer to the original definition of "clerk".

In more recent times, the Jehovah's Witnesses religion has been heavily involved with basic literacy education in many areas of the world (no, I do not follow them, I'm just stating a fact).
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 06-20-2011, 12:00 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Tampa, Florida
Posts: 68,910
Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
This is quite true. Historically in Western Europe, the Catholic Church was the educational authority in town. If you wanted to learn to read and write, you had to curry favor with the church such as expressing interest in joining a monastery or by becoming a priest. In fact, reading and writing was, for a time, largely concentrated among monastics and priests. Very few others, even the rich, could read or write. This survives in the English language with the word "clerk". Originally, it meant a priest or monastic person. Later, because those people were generally the only people who could read and write, it became a world meaning someone who can read or write, regardless of whether or not they held a position in the Church. Later, we re-imported the word from Latin as "cleric" and assigned it something closer to the original definition of "clerk".
A variant I once read (in National Geographic or one of its books, I believe) of Henry II's famous "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" is "Are there no caitiffs at my table who will rid me of this baseborn clerk?"
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:20 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.