April 22, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

When Learning, Don’t Neglect the Religion

Scientists could do themselves a favor by getting off the materialist merry-go-round and contemplating their Creator’s purpose for their lives.

Numerous articles in the past decade have bemoaned the worrisome increases in scientific fraud, malpractice, and sloppiness (e.g., 23 Sept 2017). Is there a fountainhead of integrity that can help? Can secular scientists get it from Darwinian theory? (12 March 2009).

Religiously engaged adolescents demonstrate habits that help them get better grades, Stanford scholar finds (Stanford News). Stanford University researchers, not particularly friendly to “religious” outlooks, found some desirable traits in “religiously engaged adolescents.” These are students that not only believe in God, but consider their faith a key factor in their lives. Carrie Spector writes,

The findings indicate that religious communities socialize adolescents to cultivate two habits highly valued in public schools: conscientiousness and cooperation. Religious engagement may influence grades more than researchers realize.

“The United States is a highly religious country, and religion is a powerful social force,” said the study’s author, Ilana Horwitz, a doctoral candidate at the GSE. “If we, as education scholars, are trying to understand adolescents in America, we should pay attention to this very important part of their life.”

One must realize that secular researchers often lump many disparate groups into the word “religious” even though the differences may be far more profound than the similarities. Students being trained to hate Jews and become soldiers in violent jihad at a madrassah may have vastly different values than Christians.  “Religiosity” becomes a vacuous designation when the content of belief is ignored. Indeed, it could be argued that secularists are ‘religious’ in terms of having reliance on a worldview that determines their reason for being and attitudes about life. In fact, everyone exercises faith (search on “people of faith” in the Darwin Dictionary).

With the researchers’ nondescript word “religious” in mind, it’s instructive that they used a term Jesus Christ used for those who are ‘religiously engaged’ — abiders. Jesus instructed his disciples to “abide” in him like a branch connects to a vine (John 15): drawing its nutrition and life from the source. Only in this way can a branch fulfill its purpose to bear much fruit. Can we read between the lines of the report to see that the researchers are primarily considering abiders in the Judeo-Christian forms of faith – i.e., those who get their values from the Bible?

Horwitz assigned each respondent to one of five common “types” of religiosity using a classification system developed by sociologists Melinda Lundquist Denton and Lisa Pearce. At one end of the spectrum were abiders— those who attend religious services, pray on a regular basis, feel close to God, and emphasize the role of faith in their daily lives. On the other end of the spectrum were avoiders— those believe that a God exists but avoid religious involvement and broader issues of the relevance of religion for their life.

Abiders, Horwitz found, earned significantly better grades on average than the avoiders. Abiders had an average GPA of 3.22, compared with 2.93 among avoiders.

“Being religious helps adolescents in middle and high school because they are rewarded for being obedient and respectful and for having self-control,” Horwitz said.

If these positive behaviors carry on to other spheres of life, it’s clear that scientific institutions would benefit from members who show respect, self-control, diligent study, cooperation, and conscientiousness. Are scientists not students themselves, needing to call on these values to understand nature and get better grades on the test of reproducibility?

Promiscuous America—smart, secular and somewhat less happy (Medical Xpress). For contrast, let’s examine the kind of people lacking those qualities. It takes no self-control to be promiscuous, and little respect, although non-violent “cooperation” might be a requirement. But even criminals know how to cooperate, as the phrase “partners in crime” indicates. This article says that young men are currently engaging in less sex outside marriage than before (the old word was “fornication”), while women are becoming more “adventurous.” But adventurism outside the purpose of sex in family life is not making them happy. Results from a survey of 30,000 respondents indicated that “younger Americans are having sex with fewer people than their boomer or gen X elders.”

Promiscuous America is urban, adulterous, secular, politically progressive and more educated, Wolfinger found. Indeed, Americans with postgraduate degrees are the most likely to be promiscuous.

He also found that the most promiscuous people report being less happy, which he attributes to marital status. Promiscuous survey respondents are less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced.

“The happiness story changes when promiscuous Americans get married,” Wolfinger said.

Are evolutionary scientists among the unhappy fornicators? There are no statistics about that in the article. However, it seems likely, given liberal attitudes about family values (e.g., 24 March 2018), that those who embrace Darwinian evolution would also tend to be “urban, adulterous, secular, politically progressive and more educated.” Being more educated is not necessarily virtuous. It depends on the content of the education. “Mere education is not enough,” old preacher and college president Bob Jones (1883-1968) used to say. “You cannot put a man in the penitentiary for forgery until you first teach him to write.” The film A Beautiful Mind showed John Forbes Nash as a grad student treating sex with a cheapness that bordered on contempt. He dispensed with any attempt to woo a woman on campus, telling her outright he wanted to have sex with her. Why was she shocked? Would that attitude not be a logical outcome of an evolutionary worldview that views humans as evolved primates with no obligation to a Creator, out to fulfill their urges? His only happiness, as portrayed in the film, came when he conjured up as much self-control as he could. That seems a very anti-Darwinian strategy.

The Source of Virtue

Six-year-olds can cooperate to protect common assets (Nature). Evolutionists have to believe that all the virtues listed above among the “abiders” have their roots in natural selection. They certainly ascribe “cooperation” in animals as small as bacteria to unguided Darwinian processes. Christians and Jews, by contrast, believe all humans have a conscience and are created in the image of God, even if that image was corrupted by sin. This article shows that primary children are observed to solve the puzzle of the “tragedy of the commons” by learning to work together. Which view of human nature explains this? Why would the material “selfish genes” of Darwinist Richard Dawkins make children cooperate? Evolutionists can explain such behaviors after the fact, but not from their foundational belief that selfishness is the highest good.

Secular scientists can’t cook up their own self-control, diligence, cooperation, conscientiousness or integrity. They have to borrow those goods from the Christian smorgasbord. Tell them they can’t get away with that any longer without paying the price. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many,” Jesus warned. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

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