January 9, 2010 11:23:00 PM
Guest editorials the Natchez Democrat and the Biloxi Sun Herald citing the latest Pew Forum results, pats us on the back for our top position as religious believers along with our elevated status as some of the happiest people in the country. Noting that we seem to fall into last place and flounder in so many other categories, I couldn''t help but wonder if there was a correlation in the findings and, if so, the reason.
A search on the Internet (level of education vs. belief in religion) revealed some interesting data. I found that many studies on this subject have occurred and the results consistently show that as education levels decrease, as unquestioned belief in religion increases.
Results also show that the most fervently religious can, as a group, suffer from lower IQ''s which are passed to their offspring, perpetuating the problem. Additional information indicates the same correlation exists with the non-acceptance of evolution. These results exist, not only in this country, but worldwide.
The most highly developed and educated countries with the highest standards of living show the lowest rates of belief in religious thought. On the bright side, studies found that educated people utilize attendance at church and related activities to enhance and enjoy social interaction and assist their communities; yet this group is less fundamentalist in their beliefs.
Educational factors may not be the only reason for our elevated religious ranking but are a strong indicator of economic success, something we need to improve upon. Perhaps, while patting ourselves on the back for our latest position, we should realize that there is much left to accomplish if we are to make headway in other categories. It would be a shame for Mississippians to prove the old adage, "Ignorance is bliss."
Three of many references found using the search terms above:
Georgia State University, http://aysps.gsu.edu/econ/files/ECON_SustersicRebecca_Evolution_summer07.pdf
Gallup Poll 2006, http://www.gallup.com/poll/21811/american-beliefs-evolution-vs-bibles-explanation-human-origins.aspx
National Bureau of Economic Research 2001
Laird Bagnall, Columbus