On Atheism and a College Education and the random Ten

This is what happens when I stay up late on a Thursday drinking bourbon and reading blogs I don't read often enough. I come across his kind of stuff. Here's the short version--college doesn't make people into atheists. In fact, the largest percentage of people who either decline in attending services, decline in the importance of religion, or disaffiliate from religions entirely are--wait for it--people who never go to college.

PZ thinks it's because colleges have lots of institutional groups that help students stay active, while those horrible atheist professors don't bring it up in class, and there's certainly something to that. Religion and belief certainly come up in my classes--you can't teach poetry more than a hundred years old and not deal with the subject, and I'm certainly not going to stand up in front of the class and proclaim said beliefs as stupid. It's not smart and it's not right to do that to your students--I'm teaching the poems, not proselytizing. I'm slightly subversive--I mention similar belief systems from other religions when it's appropriate, but I'm just as likely to quote scripture.

But I have a different take on it, probably because I came from a working class background and was a working class guy myself before I went to college. I think it's more a matter of time and energy. If you finished high school, but didn't go to college, you're probably busting your ass just to make ends meet. Even if you're the kind of guy, like my ex-wife's ex-brother-in-law (don't try to figure it out--you'll hurt yourself) who's fairly successful, it's because you're in something like construction, and you've spent many a day in the sun toting lumber and such and you've made it to the point where you're overseeing the jobs now. If you're working 6 10-hour-days a week, you're probably not going to church on Sunday, especially if you went out on Saturday night because that's your only chance to release some tension. I served those guys a lot of beer, and they weren't exactly atheist--it was more that they were too concerned with other stuff to be religious. There would be a time for church, and that time was later, when they'd paid off their land or their truck and didn't have to work six days a week anymore. But when that happened, then it was time to enjoy what they'd worked for, so Sundays were football and the 31-inch tv and a barbeque.

At least, that's the people I knew, and that's in part why I left my church all those years ago. It wasn't so much because I stopped believing one day; it was more because I was just tired all the time.

Here's the Random Ten. Put your computer's music player on random and post the next ten songs that pop up. Don't hide anything. "Waterloo" isn't that bad of a song.

1. Sad Songs and Waltzes--Cake
2. Bridge Over Troubled Water--Johnny Cash
3. Tillamook Cunty Jail--Todd Snider
4. Eye Know--De La Soul
5. Wouldn't Mama Be Proud?--Elliot Smith
6. I Have Space--Mates of State
7. The Engine Driver--The Decemberists
8. Sold You An Alibi--Superdrag
9. Operator--Grateful Dead
10. Let Me Go--Nouvelle Vague
Special Embarrassing track: Won't Get Fooled Again--Van Halen. Oooh.

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