From “Study: Education Affects Americans’ Religiosity — But Not How You Might Think” (Medical News Today, 10 Aug 2011), we learn, ” Education Affects Americans’ Religiosity — But Not How You Might Think”:
… the study found higher levels of education eroded Americans’ viewpoints that their specific religion is the “one true faith” and that the Bible is the literal word of God. At the same time, education was positively associated with belief in the afterlife. And while more highly educated Americans were somewhat less likely to definitely believe in God, it’s because some of them believed in a higher power, not because they were particularly likely to not believe at all.
The research also found that disaffiliating, or dropping religion altogether, was not a popular option for highly educated Americans — in fact, having a greater level of education was associated most often with converting to mainline, non-evangelical Protestant denominations.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the cultural context. In North America, rising education usually means rising social status, irrespective of income. Mainline churches are associated with higher social status. Also with reduced cost of affiliation.
As the mainline Dutch church shows, one can be an atheist and a member of the clergy of a Dutch mainstream Protestant church. Thus, it’s not clear that rising education doesn’t lead to more atheism. Much mainline Protestantism today is masked atheism – but because it is masked, it’s difficult to figure into studies. Sympathy is due to anyone trying to study that.
Nail. Jell-O. Wall. Not.