Last week various news outlets ran a story on the “most religious” states. I wasn’t exactly surprised by the rankings, but then I noticed that the two “most religious” states [Mississippi and Utah] are the two with the lowest per pupil spending on public primary and secondary education and that there appears to be a huge correlation between low spending on public education and a high degree of “religiosity” and a fairly strong correlation between more spending on education and less professed faith among the population.
In addition, states with populations that profess higher degrees of faith, in general, have state legislatures that tend to pass legislation imposing “faith-oriented” restrictions on school curricula.
While at least several science fiction authors, such as Rob Sawyer in Calculating God, have written books about cultures and civilizations based on faith that welcome education and knowledge, and strive to expand knowledge, it appears that, all too often here on earth, faith continues to be the opponent of greater knowledge and education, as witness Senator Santorum’s allegations that college education destroys faith, although that is but one example among many.
But does education destroy faith… or does it erode simplistic faiths and beliefs? And who set up the structures of those simplistic beliefs? Despite faith in such items as the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments or the golden plates of the “original” book of Mormon, there’s no real proof of their existence or of even of their original meaning, if they did in fact exist. No… all faiths have been revealed by human beings, interpreted by human beings, and proselytized by human beings. No deity has ever written across the sky – “I am God. Here are my tenets.”
So why do so many people cling to beliefs that have little root in proved reality or that have real world tenets that been proven to be false and/or unworkable? Why can they not believe in a higher power that does not require simplistic faith? And most critically, why do they try to restrict the development of greater knowledge and the education of children in that knowledge?
Perhaps I’m missing something, but if there is a Deity, why on earth would that Deity want human beings to believe in what is not true? Or to exalt ignorance above knowledge?