Faith versus facts

. . . as instantiated on this church sign sent by reader Robert. Why on earth would any church implicitly denigrate education in this way?



  1. Lamont Cranston
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    They say that like it’s a BAD thing!

    • dan bertini
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      But note educated in quotations. Sort of like theory in quotations.

      • Merilee
        Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        You beat me to it

        • dan bertini
          Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink


      • Craw
        Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. The word is being used sarcastically, the way many of us would call a widely read theologian “a learned man” or Reza Aslan a “sophisticated” theologian. Might as well ask, what sort of atheist would admit his foes are the sophisticated ones?

    • darrelle
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Exactly. This quote and your response really sums up the problem with religion in a succinct, small package.

      That committed believers think that this message is just swell, that they don’t see the nastiness of it, really demonstrates what an unethical nasty con religion is. Using time tested con tactics to dupe the marks that are susceptible to them in order to keep them down and milk them. To manipulate them into making decisions that are against their own self interests with a smile on their face, or perhaps a look of self righteous nobility. To keep them primed to accept whatever an appropriate authority figure tells them.

    • Posted February 12, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      The sarcasm is intended, but the irony is not.

    • cmow
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      As a Christian, this sign is somewhat embarrassing, I must admit. However…

      Yeah — if you grant that God exists (the God of Judeo-Christian traditions, at least), then it’s fairly self-evident that moving farther from him is a bad thing.

      We should therefore be wary of things that move us farther from God. Higher education is often deliberate in it’s efforts to persuade students that God does not exist. So, is this really such a surprising statement?

      But in my experience, education has brought me closer to God.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        I’d suppose you’d say getting too much education takes you away from your religious perspective. Stopping a Christian’s education in the 4th grade would seem like a blessing – letting the indoctrination of parents and church be the principle source of “knowledge”. This is, in fact, practiced forcefully by some denominations such as the Amish. Another approach that seems to be fairly “successful” is setting up Church centered colleges to extend the intellectual isolation as long as possible.

      • Posted February 12, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        religion depends on fear and ignorance. No evidence, no questioning, then religion flourishes.

      • Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Higher education often explicitly attempts to persuade students that god doesn’t exist? Citation needed.

        I would bet that most college professors are theists themselves. Atheism is sometimes just a happy byproduct of higher education. Not a result of a deliberate attempt to deconvert.

      • Posted February 12, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

        I think you can do without the meaningless introductory clause, “As a Christian.” I’ve yet to see that particular phrase provide any explanatory meaning. It must always be followed by what the individual’s personal interpretation of Christianity is and that is more disparate than even the thousands of Christian sects can account for.

        I don’t know what kind of Christian you are, but for the vast majority (including myself when I believed), a large portion of faith comes from the notion that God created life because plain old matter simply isn’t enough to do it. The more educated Christians will push God back to some sort of master engineer role, a powerful being who got the ball rolling by setting the parameters. Still more sophisticated claims say that God sustains the Universe, but a near unanimous opinion is that God intervenes in our daily lives and many of these object to the idea of pushing God back to the point where we fully embrace scientific findings. Many others deny science outright (a fact underscored by the sign in the picture). All this simply affirms my original sentiment, “As a Christian,” is almost always meaningless. There’s simply no way to predict what will come after.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 13, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Higher education is often deliberate in it’s efforts to persuade students that God does not exist.

        Citation very definitely needed with regards to the education system. Of course, I spent a significant chunk of my school years doing my best to undermine and challenge the faith of the few faithful people in my class. That’s what “Religious Education” classes are for, right?
        Sorry – faiths, plural ; some Christians of various stripes, some Muslims, a Jew (Franz, our dads worked together), three JWs (who stood out from the rest of the Xtians because they had a get-out-of-RE card and choose to not play it) and several Hindus. No Sikhs though, by coincidence. Perfectly normal mix.
        Actually, that’s another thing to throw against the education system – there is a strong possibility that in the school years the pupil may actually meet and interact with people who are of different religions to their parents, and if the brainwashing hasn’t been complete and perfect, they might actually start to develop away from their indoctrination.

  2. Ian Clark
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Put the holy book down and step away from the supernatural.

    • Blue
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      heh.heh.heh. = .that. is frickin’ spot – ON !


  3. Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    … and the scare quotes don’t actually “change” anything. Stupid in, stupid out.

    • Frank
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      I think they are trying to say that what usually passes for education is not truly education at all – in their minds. And this is no surprise. This is a convenient (and apparently successful) means of dismissing facts that disturb them. We see this all the time when a scientific finding conflicts with their patently false mythology. They will dismiss the findings of those “scientists” or those so-called scientists, or, if they really want to double down, those so-called “scientists” – add the scare quotes and “so-called” to really make their point!.

  4. Kevin
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Oh Brother! Tell it like it is. I wonder if anyone at that church gets headaches…as there may not be anything left in their heads.

  5. BobTerrace
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Brought to you by the same people who think faith is a virtue instead of it being a character flaw.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Many years ago I had a conversation with a very religious student about evolution versus creationism. As I expected, I really could not make any headway since facts were always countered by the most extraordinary tropes (the depth of lunar dust is evidence of a young solar system, etc.), and since these were given equal weight, the whole issue of age and evolution could be whatever he wanted to believe.
      I remarked that I seem to be unable to persuade him, as his faith was too strong. He actually smiled very broadly. I had complimented him.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 12, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        I’ve had similar discussions with a particular person on another site. As you noted here it doesn’t matter what evidence you present or how you explain it.

        This person was cagey about out right denying evolution and avoided the term creationist. His go-to for arguments and evidence was Bill Dembski. His knockdown argument was the old “the odds of the random interactions of molecules resulting in even the simplest living thing are 70 googlegazillion to 1.” No matter how I explained why that was a complete non sequitur he could not be moved. As far as he was concerned Dembski has proven mathematically that life can not occur without a designer making it happen, and that’s that.

        • rickflick
          Posted February 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          “As far as he was concerned Dembski has proven…”

          His confidence comes from early childhood “education”.

  6. Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I actually read that as a denigration of God.

  7. Dominic
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Seen the NATURE article?
    Moralistic gods, supernatural punishment and the expansion of human sociality

  8. John Franklin
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Sadly, this sentiment is not really surprising to me. I’ve met many folks from the “Bible Belt” and many wear their ignorance like a badge of honor.

    • jeffery
      Posted February 13, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      And then there’s that old “Church Marquee-classic”:

      “GOD SAID IT

  9. rickflick
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    It has the up-side of being true, and a move that’s for the good.

  10. Tulse
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    The same sign advertises Bible study.

    • EvolvedDutchie
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      It is true that the more people know about religion and God, the more they think it’s all rubbish. The more educated people become, the farther they move away from God.

  11. Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I’ve read that, according to some theologians, even an education in theology can have this effect. The more students learn about the subject the more skeptical they become.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I had come across this too, and would like to learn more about it. The description I heard was that as students go through seminary school, they start out very enthusiastic as they are from religious backgrounds. But the coursework includes a measure of objective scholarship about the origins of the bible stories, and this causes attrition among the ranks.

      • Jim Jones
        Posted February 13, 2016 at 2:53 am | Permalink

        Bart Ehrman is a case in point:

        “Then I began to see that not just the scribal text but the original text itself was a very human book. This stood very much at odds with how I had regarded the text in my late teens as a newly minted “born-again” Christian, convinced that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God and that the biblical words themselves had come to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

        As I realized already in graduate school, even if God had inspired the original words, we don’t have the original words. So the doctrine of inspiration was in a sense irrelevant to the Bible as we have it, since the words God reputedly inspired had been changed and, in some cases, lost.

        Moreover, I came to think that my earlier views of inspiration were not only irrelevant, they were probably wrong. For the only reason (I came to think) for God to inspire the Bible would be so that his people would have his actual words; but if he really wanted people to have his actual words, surely he would have miraculously preserved those words, just as he had miraculously inspired them in the first place.

        Given the circumstance that he didn’t preserve the words, the conclusion seemed inescapable to me that he hadn’t gone to the trouble of inspiring them.”

        Misquoting Jesus – Bart Ehrman

  12. Colin
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    “So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.” (Bertrand Russell)

  13. Steve Zeoli
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    That sign could just as easily say “We prey upon the ignorant.”

  14. Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”

    US Senator (R. Pennsylvania) and Presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, 2012

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      It’s not true in the sciences, but to be fair, in some postmodern departments that’s not terribly far from the truth. The junior-authoritarians who are springing up on campuses all over didn’t learn this stuff by watching cartoons.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        I think you’ve hit on a possible cure. Have mandatory classes at all schools forcing the kids to watch Ren & Stimpy cartoons all day long.

    • Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if Santorum is a Denis Prager fan. This has been Prager’s big schtick for a long time. Colleges and universities are just big propaganda machines for godless commies.

  15. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Have never seen this kind of honesty from a church. Praise the sign.

  16. mordacious1
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I must be more educated than I thought.

  17. Tom
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    The point being made is that the the minds of certain of the faithful ignorance is a qualification rather like a University Degree.
    So it is obvious that only by being totally ignorant can any of the faithful achieve full union with their “god”

  18. Sastra
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    They’re treating the word “education” the way we sometimes treat the word “success.”

    The familiar analogy they’re drawing from is the popular narrative where a child goes out into the world and becomes a worldly “success” but is poor in the things which really matter. They may be making money, getting power, and buying expensive things … but they’ve distanced themselves scornfully from the “low-class” family and friends who once gave them support. They’re ignoring the value of love, compassion, and principles. They’re not as smart as they think they are, because in the end they’ll realize how shallow they became. The people with real class don’t turn their back on their roots: a warm home is better than a cold palace.

    We all recognize the trope — getting too “smart” for your own good. Now apply that to education instead of style. They think it compares.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      making money, getting power and buying expensive things. I’m sorry – thought you were talking about the Catholic church there for a minute. Damn those shallow people.

    • steve
      Posted February 13, 2016 at 5:29 am | Permalink

      And it’s not just the evangelical or other non-Catholic churches (as this sign seems to be from).

      From Vatican radio here is the new “better”
      Pope himself:

      “…….The spirit of curiosity distances us from the Spirit of wisdom because all that interests us is the details, the news, the little stories of the day. Oh, how will this come about? It is the how: it is the spirit of the how! And the spirit of curiosity is not a good spirit. It is the spirit of dispersion, of distancing oneself from God, the spirit of talking too much. And Jesus also tells us something interesting: this spirit of curiosity, which is worldly, leads us to confusion.

      ”…… not seek strange things, do not seek novelties with this worldly curiosity…..”

      I guess gravity waves are a no-go then?

      • Sastra
        Posted February 13, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Maybe we should call this sort of thing “Thumb-sucking Apologetics.” Curl up into a ball with your blankie, close your eyes, and sooth yourself into a state of dull serenity like a good baby.

  19. Posted February 12, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I didn’t read it as denigrating education. I read it more along the lines of the “the better educated we become the more we realize how ridiculous a belief in god is”.

  20. Robert Seidel
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    They’re right of course, and to denigrate education was a staple of early Christianity, apparently still lingering on amongst the more fundamentalist (=honest) sects. There’s some straightforward words by most church fathers on this:

    “Hence men go on to search out the hidden powers of nature (which is besides our end), which to know profits not, and wherein men desire nothing but to know.”

    Augustine Confessiones 10.35.55

    “We don’t want to split ourselves equally between Christ and the world. Rather than lapsing and ephemeral goods, eternal bliss shall be ours.”

    Hieronymus, Epistulae 107, 4.9

    “After Jesus Christ, we have no need for inquiry. If we believe, we don’t desire anything beyond belief.”

    Tertullian, De praescriptione haereticorum 7.14

    • Emerson
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes. And versicles from the NT like the following explain a lot:
      I Corinthians 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”
      1 john 5:19-20 ” And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

  21. Paul
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    When I was a fundamentalist my pastor always used to say “if you open your mind you’ll let the devil in!”

    I bought it hook, line, and sinker because staying closed minded was way easier than really having to think about the complexities of life. I mean why bother, God already figured it all out for us right? Living in a world of black and white is a lot easier than living in a world with your friend colors and shades

  22. Mark R.
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    So next week the kiosk should read (to be fair):

    The more “ignorant” we become the closer we move towards God.

    Amen to that!

  23. Pliny the in Between
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    What’s funny to me is that it really did take me a minute to figure out that this was supposed to be a bad thing.

    • Taskin
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink


  24. J.Baldwin
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    God gave humans a mind and then told them not to use it…or else!

    What’s so hard to understand?

  25. jeffery
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I have mused for years over the Bible passage, “He who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.”: it DOES seem that to learn more about what’s really going on in this world does nothing to improve one’s mood. Then I realize that most of what’s going on that bothers me is caused, in one way or another, by religion and its attendant superstition and ignorance.

    • Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      Well, there is this.

      • jeffery
        Posted February 13, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I’ve read about this and, while I’m unwilling to believe that it’s true “across the board”, I can easily see how we all tell ourselves a number of little lies each day in order to feel more comfortable.

  26. Jenny Hoffman
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Add “the idea” of god and I’d agree with the statement – I just don’t think it’s a bad thing!

  27. allison
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The sign reminds me of the famous quote by the late Pastor Ray Mummert during the Kitzmiller v. Dover Trial a dozen or so years ago: “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture”.

  28. zytigon
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Maybe John 16v12 should have had Jesus say, ‘ I have much more to say to you about the errors in the Bible, more than you can now bear. But when the spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all truth’

    However the history of science has shown by contrast that supernatural revelation has yielded no significant advances in knowledge of the world about us. In many cases the imagined spirit of truth didn’t even lead those who claimed to have it to go to the libraries and look up the cutting edge ideas of science and technology.
    Careful observation using ever more powerful optical devices has achieved many of the advances in knowledge.
    Martin Rees in Youtube video “Our universe and others (Martin Rees)” on philosophy of cosmology channel says that it wasn’t until 1860 that people realised that stars were made of the same stuff as the sun & Earth – after Sir William Huggins studied them using astronomical spectroscopy

  29. Posted February 12, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Implicitly denigrate education? That seems pretty explicit to me.

    Whether implicit or explicit, there’s surely numerous reasons to keep the flock faithfully ignorant. My question is why do Sophisticated Theologians™ spend so much time complaining about atheists misrepresentation of religion and faith instead of focusing on huge number of believers who obviously must have it wrong as well? We’re assessing views based in reality; they’re assessing a fantasy.

  30. Posted February 12, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Wonder what the faculty at the Churches of Christ colleges and universities have to say about this? I let you know if I hear anything.

  31. Posted February 12, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink


    Perhaps the FFRF should put up a similar one:

    “The more knowledgeable we become, the farther we move away from superstition”.

    Kindest regards,


  32. Jena
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Grew up in the CofC. Doesn’t surprise me a bit. In fact, my mother was a school teacher and was “allowed” to teach baptized boys because there were not enough educated men to teach them. Keep in mind that women were not to “usurp athority over men”.

    Looks like they are still at it.

    • John Brinn
      Posted February 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Jena, so was I. Preacher’s son, in fact but we all left about 1960. Curious about your experience . Send me a note on FB if you like…. John Brinn

  33. James
    Posted February 13, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The more “Christian” we become the farther we move away from education.

    Still works.

  34. Steve Brooks
    Posted February 13, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that faith, not education, is being denigrated.

    • John Brinn
      Posted February 13, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Not necessarily an attack on faith. Perhaps on an INADEQUATELY EXAMINED FAITH. I don’t, but even if you accept the bible as literally true it says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. It DOESN’T say (but a lot of so-called Christians strongly encourage) – COVER YOUR EYES AND EARS TO EVIDENCE IN ORDER TO KEEP THE FAITH WE TOLD YOU TO HAVE. (Evidence to the contrary is the DEVIL tempting you – DON’T LISTEN)

  35. John Brinn
    Posted February 13, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I am an ex-member of the Church of Christ (but not since 1960). If anyone knows what congregation / location of the church in the picture is, could you let me know, please

  36. Colin
    Posted February 13, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    “I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.” (Edith Sitwell)

  37. Posted February 14, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t disagree more. People who want to move away from belief in God will do so regardless of education level.

    • Posted February 14, 2016 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      People who “want” to move away from belief? Is belief something you just decide? What if I asked you to believe the sun will rise in the west tomorrow where you’ll see Big Foot serenading the Loch Ness monster? Would you not believe this simply because you don’t want to? Or are there other reasons?

  38. KD
    Posted February 15, 2016 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Just a guess but I don’t think they are marketing to an upscale demographic, and where would the low church experience be without fanning the flames of class resentment?

    I think as an “educated” person, I should be tickled that I am resented for who I am and what I represent.

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