Recent studies by the Pew Research Center seem to indicate that highly educated Americans nowadays are less religious than those who have acquired less education. But that doesn’t go to say all educated Americans don’t attend church or recognize themselves as believers.
Moreover, 71 percent of Americans identify as Christians, and among those Christians, those with a higher education aren’t afraid to admit they’re just as religious.
Forty-six percent of college graduates in the U.S. alone are less likely to say religion is important in their life.
Those who graduated with an advanced degree are also less inclined to say they believe in God with “absolute certainty” and when asked where their beliefs stand, 11 percent of current undergraduate or recent post-graduate students will affiliate with Atheism or Agnosticism.
Atheism, in the broadest of descriptions, is the absence of any belief in a higher existence — in this case, God — while Agnosticism holds true to the belief that the existence of God or the supernatural is “unknown or unknowable.”
Personally, I came to Seattle Pacific three years ago holding the mentality of what most would consider Atheism, but kept my mind open to the possibility of new views. I was waiting for something, somebody, to show me the value of believing.
Despite the University Seminars, Foundations or Core courses, I still found myself gravitating toward a community that felt opposite to the SPU majority’s norm. I soaked in information and history of the values to what makes Christianity and other forms of faith, but in the end, the more questions arose, the more doubt I began to feel.
Being baptized at the age of 8 felt like the norm at the time; it was what an average human was supposed to do.
My parents never pushed the idea of Christianity or how a faithful Christian was meant to be; they allowed space and time for my thoughts to develop to their own.
As I continued at SPU though, I began to realize that maybe my lack of understanding and devotion to faith was missing due to the of lack of information on what religion really is.
According to a psychology research journal entitled, “Religion, Brain and Behavior,” psychologists have conducted a theory of “credibility-enhancing displays,” or “CRED,” in which those who were exposed to more “CRED” tended to have higher certainty in the existence of God than those who didn’t.
I slowly began to realize over time that maybe my lack of belief in religion and God was partly due to the little influence I was exposed to in my childhood, but also due to the influence of people in my surrounding environment that aimed to display what a “true” Christian was — and did so in a exclusive way.
Esther Wang, a junior and former Student Ministry Coordinator, said that in Seattle Pacific’s religious community, “people are too concerned with being the ‘perfect’ Christian.”
“They would rather sweep something under the rug or exclude somebody or change themselves just so the seemed good to the public eye,” said Wang.
I agree. The problem, I feel, with the Christian community is that most individuals I find to be associated with the religion are in it for a status or popularity contest. There is this hierarchy, in a sense, of who can be the best and in the end, achieve the greatest afterlife.
“In some ways, it’s been hard for me to differentiate between the faith and people who profess to that faith because when you’re surrounded by people who constantly talk about being a Christian, but then you see all their behaviors that are either harmful to someone else or just really selfish,” said Wang, “And that kinda throws me off.”
When looking at the value of what religion is, there should be a match of your words with your actions, making you more persuasive and desireable to the public.
While discussing religion with Wang, an incoming undergrad at Seattle Pacific chimed in and expressed his distaste for the university’s community as, “fake-ness.”
Seattle Pacific, in more ways than not, has been a wonderful institution in guiding me toward the person I want to be and strive to become in the future, but as you walk amongst the crowd and try to voice your unpopular opinion, a sense of secularization is formed.
As young adults, we are constantly changing and developing new forms of ideas and thoughts, Wang explained. At this age, no one is truly in the “right” of what to believe and what opinion is valid or not, and that’s what is missing in the campus’ community.
We need to allow more space for the possibility of others to grow toward a non-religious lifestyle.