Why are humanities students more likely to give up faith than science students? | Fatheism

I’m re-blogging this because, as Emily points out, the findings of three separate studies, highlight an interesting side effect that is somewhat counter intuitive, and therefore initially surprising.

Why are humanities students more likely to give up faith than science students?

Posted on September 24, 2015 by Emily on Fatheism

College students who study social sciences and humanities are more likely to lose their religion than those who study science (particularly biology and physical science). Weird, right? This runs completely counter to what we’d expect. In fact, when I asked readers/viewers on Periscope whether studying the sciences or humanities is more likely to produce atheism/agnosticism, nobody said humanities. Many viewers requested the citations for these findings because of course studying science pokes holes in religious dogma–it provides a natural, evidence-based, replicable way of understanding the world. But alas, we’ve been ignoring the hole-poking abilities of the humanities and social sciences. A number of studies have looked into this sociological phenomenon.

Source: Why are humanities students more likely to give up faith than science students? | Fatheism

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9 thoughts on “Why are humanities students more likely to give up faith than science students? | Fatheism

  1. unkleE

    Hi Ken, interesting question, and I don’t have an answer. But I do have some further data that may surprise you.

    1. In the US a study found that “evangelic Protestants had actually taken more college-level science classes than the average non-religious respondent, and that mainline Protestants were more scientifically literate than ordinary Americans!” (see here and here).

    2. Less educated Americans are losing faith faster than the educated. In the UK, it may be different – there it seems that non-believers are better educated than believers, but converts to christianity are better educated than converts from christianity!

    3. Studies show that relatively few scientists (15%) think science and religion are always in conflict, and more may believe in God than we might think – see here and here.

    All three of those points are probably surprising to you (as they were to me). It perhaps shows that we get our expectations from a small vocal internet minority rather than from somewhere objective – easy to do of course.


    1. Hi unkleE,

      Some interesting stuff but as you probably already know all correlations have to be treated with care. All too often, people rush to draw conclusions based on a simple correlation and these conclusions are unfounded. This point is demonstrated here.


        1. Wasn’t aware I did. All I said [or meant to say] was a general comment that conclusions draw from correlations have to be examined carefully to ensure they are valid. A typical example is the “red car syndrome” I came across many many years ago. Somebody concluded that red cars were more dangerous than black cars because they were involved in more accidents, but it wasn’t the colour of the car that was important, it was the type of person who chose a red car. Hope this clarifies things.


          1. OK, sorry, I thought you meant that poor statistics were the case here. But presumably they weren’t because the references are based on properly designed surveys and studies. So the studies seem to point to a surprising conclusion that may be slightly different to the points you made. I thought you’d be interested to know that. Thanks.

            Liked by 1 person

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