Education vs. Religion

In my last post, I discussed the inherent conflict between religion and science. It’s a regular theme here. While many people believe that Religion and Science can co-exist, I’m not one of them. I think there is an inherent conflict between the two, and that ultimately science will predominate in our culture, and religion will die a timely death. Probably not in my lifetime, but since the process started sometime during the Renaissance, it’s unreasonable to think that it would. I can see it happening in the next hundred years however, because of the speed at which the progress of critical thinking has accelerated, primarily because of computers, and most notably the internet. Where it used to take, literally, years for a novel idea to circumnavigate the globe, it now takes seconds.

Intrinsic to this is the role of education. The progress referenced above is increased in direct proportion to the amount of education in any particular populace. A recent attack on education by and English Bishop is a good indicator of the truth of this.

The Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church’s teaching they are “hedonistic”, “selfish” and “egocentric”, he said…

Bishop O’Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to “sickness in the Church and wider society”.

You know that the church is just a tad bit worried when it attacks education itself, and blames academia for the decline in interest in the church, church attendance and, for that matter, church relevance. I find this to be an astonishing admission that religion is dependent on the ignorance of its faithful and the fostering of blind adherence to church doctrine. While it always seemed clear to me that any religion would fail once the body of the church reached a certain level of group intelligence, I always thought that it was a dirty little secret no church would admit to. Apparently, things have gotten desperate.

“What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives,” he said.

Coincidentally, during the same time frame, religion has become less and less significant, losing more and more influence in the lives of it’s adherents. He blames education. Why? Because educated people learn to think for themselves. They study the scientific method, learn critical thinking at the higher levels of academia, and generally shed the thought processes that are necessary to maintain a system of people reliant on a central authority that offers nothing but hope in an ephemeral and nonexistent afterlife. So of course, when confronted with a decline in attendance, and an increase in religious apathy, what else to blame but the education of the flock? Clearly, they’ve been over-educated! They’re now too smart to buy into the concept of original sin, which along with “radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism” is the root cause for a decline in mass attendance and priests.

Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, representing a drop of 40 per cent since 1963, but it fell further to 960,000 in 2004. The number of priests in England and Wales has slumped by nearly a quarter in 20 years, from 4,545 in 1985 to 3,643 in 2005.

Although the good Bishop pays lip service to the advisability of continuing education, what he’s really suggesting is that we should educate less, indoctrinate more. Stop teaching people to think for themselves, teach them to let the church do their thinking for them. Turn them back into good little sheep.

As Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, shepherds don’t tend to their flock because they love them, they do so in order to a) fleece them and b) turn them into meat for the butcher. The church needs a flock to maintain its wealth, power and prestige. It provides a source of all three of these to the bureaucracy and hierarchy of the church, at the expense of its members. If the members wake up, and realize they don’t need their church, the church falls. It’s that simple.

So keep them stupid, and keep them worshiping on Sundays.

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18 thoughts on “Education vs. Religion

  1. Do you find it pleasantly ironic that, through the preservation of knowledge during the Middle Ages and then the support of (albeit religious) education in the early modern period, religion may have given humanity the tools needed to begin dismantling religious hegemony? Churches (Catholic and Protestant) needed educated men to help control the masses. They appear to have lost conrol of the educational system and now seek to attack out of fear rather than support out of need.

  2. I saw this earlier this week but I didn’t get a chance to comment on it. Quite a lot of Christian bullshit this week. I wonder why? Anyway, it is hysterical, isn’t it? Damn education! It makes everyone see through the tricks of the church! LOL!

    Boy the way our sermons played.
    They’d never see through the charade.
    Religions like ours, we had it made.
    Those were the days
    And you knew what your place was!
    Everyone sinned and were god fearing then.
    We could sure use that fear and ignorance again.
    Didn’t need no education state.
    Everybody was dim as slate.
    Gee that ol’ Pascal’s Wager worked great.
    Those were the days.

    Sung to this.

  3. Philly:
    Thanks for the link. I had a picture of Archie and Edith in my head and heard them singing your lyrics as I read them.

    It astonishes me that the bishop presented “the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives,” as if he were describing some really horrible developments. Damn economic development, scientific and tech advances and – worst of all – social enrichment of billions of people! They’ll be the ruination of us all, I tell ya. Just mark my words.

  4. Billy, I was thinking the same thing. In post-Roman Western Europe, the pagans were the rustic folk while the Christians were the urban dwelling educated ones.

    Look at America today, and the rural parts are more religious than the largely secular city dwellers.

  5. I don’t think religion will ever disappear as such, it may morph into something else but the elements will still be there.

    The things that drive religion will probably be around as long as we’re recogniseably human. Need to dominate others and call the shots, fear, uncertainty, and flat out “what the hell is going to happen next” in any bad situation.

    The man I trained and rode horses for was the second atheist I ever knew, and he was also a man of great compassion and understanding, and he told me about Sunday and church in his neck of the woods in south wes Virginia. It was still pretty much that way when I went down there in some places.

    Sunday was a special day. For the first time in a week you were relatively clean, you had come in less contact with shit (chores still have to be done, stalls mucked out, milking done) but you dressed in mice(er) clothes, no one could make you work, and you went someplace where you could sit and do NOTHING. And maybe actually be comfortable in the winter. This was your social network, the meeting place where you might get needed help, and even if you’d spent the last several years hungry, you were assured that there was ‘hope’, that you would get the pie in the sky if you were ‘faithful’.

    Religion (the christian variety in this culture)was a mental escape hatch for an uncertain, hard life.

    Whatever else comes along it will probably be bought because the alternative (or so people think) will not be tolerable.

  6. And let’s not forget the science of religion, in which the brain is probed for genetic and structural causes of the plague of religion. Let’s find those little god cells and god genes and laser them out of existence. We could begin with Pope Johnny Rats and Pastor Hagee and that Graham fellow.

  7. You have to remember that religion only favors education so long as that education directly benefits them. Yes, give your kids a good college education so they get good jobs and make more money they can give to the church. Just make sure they don’t doubt the teachings of the church in any way, or education suddenly becomes a bad thing.

    We can’t forget that while the RCC was the “bastion” of education in the middle ages, it wasn’t because they were the best, they were simply the only game in town. Education really meant “taught to do things the church deemed necessary”, it was never a matter of learning simply for the sake of learning, it was guided by religious dogma and anyone who dared to move outside of that ended up imprisoned or dead for heresy.

  8. While I think that education has led to diminished reliance on religion I am not so sure we will see the end of religion. The RCC has failed to keep up with the times – a more recent and flexible religion, such as Scientology, arising in modern, educated, western society is more what I imagine religion to be like in the future.

  9. Sean the Blogonaut “…a more recent and flexible religion, such as Scientology, arising in modern, educated, western society is more what I imagine religion to be like in the future.”
    Plus, Tom Cruise can fly and control men’s minds. It’s tough to beat a bargaining chip like that. I’d start my own religion, but I can only hover and make small dogs fetch sticks.

  10. 40 percent reduction since the 60’s? That’s amazing! The population has been growing, but attendance has been decreasing. No wonder this guy is jumping up and down.

  11. The reduction is worse than that, beyond the numbers:

    Churches are in deep, deep trouble even in America. Megachurches are symptoms of the disease, not a sign of health. Contrary to the image Christianists try to paint that they’re a symbol of increased religiosity, they’re actually consolidations of smaller churches and aggressive peelings away of mainline churches.

    What’s keeping most mainline churches afloat in America are an increasingly aging congregation (in the case of the Catholic church, throw in immigrants and Latino population growth numbers, although Latino loyalty, too is diminishing).

    You don’t have to look too hard at their internal numbers to see that conversion rates are flat (if not flatLINE), while deconversion rates are a slow, steady drip. Worst of all, attrition rates from death are about to become epic for them with the Baby Boomers reaching old age.

    But the most frightening news for them is how rapidly lack of belief/secularism has exploded, against incredible odds, and most dramatically in their only hope for sustainability: Young people. Atheist/agnostic/secular voices were just about silenced in the media and government for decades, while the theists were given complete access to all levers of communication and power. And it still didn’t keep secularism from growing, even if the youth numbers aren’t counted!

    That is an incredible accomplishment, but its cause isn’t hard to find. It’s exactly what this post was about: EDUCATION. And not just any education, but SECULAR education. The Internet has also helped, leveling the playing field in a way non-believers could have never imagined.

  12. Pingback: Why Writing About Creationism/ID Matters « An Apostate’s Chapel

  13. How can you people say that, religion is only bullshit????… And how does education makes you see through the tricks of religion when there isn’t any tricks at all??? Maybe you should evaluate what you say maybe think a million times before you judge.

  14. Yeah, I recently asked myself that if people were educated, they don’t need to achieve like college level, but say, middle school to high school graduate, would have religion made such a strong impact back then? I think not.

  15. I mean, I am not saying that religion(like in terms of churches’ teachings or whatnot) is wrong or anything(like…I would not oppose to have like spirit talk floating around as we cannot prove[for now] in ANYWAY…what the afterlife is…we might be in spirit form, who knows), but if people were to learn to reason much better(which most weren’t, they were mostly peasants…which only know how to farm), the ideologies and principles of religion(any of them) would had been questioned and perhaps less likely to have been accepted as they were.
    But…besides the “religion” religion, look at Western society, look at America for example, itself is founded on the “belief” of a democratic world, and Americans(at least the government and the leaders of the country) have been “praticing” democracy like they HAVE complete FAITH in it and spreading it through out the world like missionaries spreading christianity.
    Also, capitalism is another thing that we take it like a religion, we worship it, believe that this is probably the final solution to our social-economical structure.
    Oh…don’t get me wrong like I am a commy or something, I am not, I am just saying that…there probably is/are better ways than what we have right now, we probably not going to see it in our life time, nor any time in the furture(like for a couple hundred years) but I am sure that humanity will come up with a better system to help to ensure the continual existence of humanity is possible.
    If we don’t do it…I mean, not being all “doomsday” talk or anything, but our civilization might perish because we lead it down the wrong path.
    The question of…human centered…and nature centered…something to think about really.

  16. Sorry, I kind of went off course. Hope you guys don’t mind. But it’s all interconnected, really. Education is at the center of it all.

  17. Sorry, I kind of went off course. Hope you guys don’t mind. But it’s all interconnected, really. Education is at the center of it all.

    No problem, Willy. I couldn’t agree with you more. Clearly, there is an obvious correlation between education and atheism. Look at the top scientists in the US, the members of the NIS, of which 93% do not believe in a personal god.

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