Think again about the survey by the Barna Group. Only 1 in 200 18-23yr old young adults have a Biblical worldview. Combine this with the statistic on the first page that 85% of the students who are Christian will abandon what they believe before they graduate from college and it's easy to see the real concern.
I believe the primary reason Christian students abandon what they believe is that even though many may have been taught what Christianity believes by their parents, churches, and youth groups, approximately 85% were never taught the reasons why they could believe it. They were never taught evidences for the truths of Christianity. These two statistics show that most students will go all the way through high school and beyond without ever learning many of the evidences for Christianity, without learning the reasons why Christianity can be believed as truth.
In the book Soul Searching, sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton found that 32% of former believers said they left because of intellectual skepticism:
"It didn't make sense anymore"
"Some stuff is too farfetched for me to believe"
"I think scientifically and there is no real proof"
"Too many questions can't be answered"
You can preview this book at Google Books:
Of course, there are other reasons why students abandon Christianity in college. It could be that they never really were a Christian and they were just trying to “look” like a Christian and “fit in.” They wanted others to think they were a Christian. Some students may have turned away from Christianity because it never become their faith, because they were never shown evidences. Another reason could be that once in college, and without the rules they were required to follow when they were at home, the temptation of unrestricted freedom when combined with the peer pressure in college was too strong for them to resist. And yet one more reason is that the person really thought they were a Christian, but what they had accepted as Christianity wasn't actually the authentic Christianity, (see Section 8 – Salvation).
There is another aspect to colleges and universities which can also be a potentially significant factor in contributing to a Christian student abandoning what they believe. This factor concerns some of the professors at colleges and universities, and the persuasive influence they have because of their position of authority. It is reasonable for a student to assume that a professor will teach true information about the subject that the professor teaches. And this is expected considering this is the area of expertise of the professor, the area of knowledge a professor has spent time mastering. However, this can cause students to conclude that claims made by the professor in a subject area the professor doesn't teach are equally true.
If a professor makes claims similar to the following the student may begin to believe that these claims are correct.
“There is no God”
“The Bible is full of myths”
“Jesus was just a man”
“Jesus never existed”,
This is logical because as we have seen, the majority of students have never seen evidences proving the truths of Christianity that prove claims like these as incorrect. If a student only has the claims of the professor to consider and isn't aware that there are evidences proving the claims wrong, and much less, doesn't even know any of these evidences, the professor’s claims will then seem quite convincing. If you've ever seen a mystery movie or read a mystery book, where there was a group of suspects and the audience doesn't have all the facts until the end, you undoubtedly came to wrong conclusions until the end, when you finally have all the facts to arrive at the accurate conclusion.
As indicated above, many students will mistakenly conclude that the professor’s challenges are true because of their position as a student in the class as compared to the professor. This starts to make sense when we realize that students have the mindset that they are there to learn, even if they don’t realize it consciously, and since a professor has already gone through school, the professor is the educated one. The student comes to the conclusion that the professor must be right, because of their limited education as compared to the professors. After all, if a student doesn't have any reasons to believe what the professor is claiming is wrong, then the claims will often be accepted as truth.
Two friends I've known since grade school went to the same church I did. This was before the time churches thought about teaching evidences for Christianity and before most people were really aware that there were evidences. Both of these friends graduated with degrees from U.C. Berkeley. Since they had never been taught any evidences for what they were brought up believing about the existence of God, etc., they graduated from this well-known university as Atheistic Evolutionist’s. They were never taught any reasons why they could believe in the Bible, God, or Jesus, so they had no reason to doubt any claims made by Professors or others which were the opposite of what they believed.
I believe that the impacts of the university environment indicated above and Christian students not knowing evidences contributed to some of those students (over 70%) abandoning what they were brought up believing. If you are wondering if many professors have this perspective about religious beliefs and Christianity, consider the following results of studies.
Studies of professor’s beliefs indicate the following:
College Professors are 2-3 times more likely to be atheists than the general public.
More than half of professors have unfavorable feelings toward Evangelical Christians.
Only 6% of professors say the Bible is “the actual word of God”.
Almost 50% of professors say the Bible is “an ancient book of fables, legends, history & moral precepts”.
Are American College Professors Religious?
No Christianity Please, We're Academics
The Challenges Facing Young Christians
Am I Losing My Faith?
You may be thinking that the worldview of a professor doesn’t influence their teachings. But wouldn’t it?
The following are a few quotes from professors. See if you can tell their worldviews in their statements. And also see if you can detect any motivation on their part to challenge what Christian students believe.
“They will see me as just another liberal professor trying to cajole them out of some of their convictions, and they are dead right about that – that’s what I am, and that’s exactly what I am trying to do.”
Daniel Dennett – Tuft’s University
“. . . we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own . . . So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you (the parents) in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable . .”
Richard Rorty – Stanford University
"I personally feel that the teaching of modern science is corrosive of religious belief, and I'm all for that!” “If scientists can destroy the influence of religion on young people, then I think it may be the most important contribution that we can make.”
Steve Weinberg – U of T Austin
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion. If this book (The God Delusion) works as intended, religious readers who open it will be Atheists when they put it down.”
Richard Dawkins – Oxford University
From his book “The God Delusion”
These professor’s statements and the earlier statistics show the worldviews many Christian students are likely to encounter in college. And do you now see that the worldviews of many professors influence their motivations toward the beliefs of Christian students? The above professor’s comments show that at least some professors feel it is their responsibility to eliminate any belief in God a student has. They actually look at doing this as an honorable endeavor.
Secular Humanist John Dunphy wrote about the conflict between Humanism and Christianity, and the importance of the public education establishment in bringing about the goals in the Humanist Manifesto II. Here is his quote:
"I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being...The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new -- the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of 'love thy neighbor' will finally be achieved."
Secular Humanists Give Dunphy Another Platform
Richard Dawkins has had a major influence with his book the God Delusion, as indicated by the numerous positive reviews on Amazon:
The God Delusion
While there are numerous positive reviews, there are also critical reviews. And of the 3500+ over 10% are only 1 star out of 5. From these reviews it is clear that many are not convinced by Richard Dawkins' arguments. Could it be that some of those writing the well-reasoned critical reviews have additional knowledge not known by some of those writing positive reviews and leading them to different conclusions than those writing the positive reviews? I also found a few critical comments about the book The God Delusion outside of Amazon.com:
"The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist”
Michael Ruse - Atheist
“To call The God Delusion sophomoric would be an insult to sophomores”
Alvin Plantinga of Notre Dame
This is why the Apologetics and Evidences sections are so important to have confidence as a Christian. Knowing evidences for what you believe gives you confidence in what you believe, and knowing how to present the evidences gives you the ability to defend against the criticisms of Christianity. You will see in the challenges to Christianity sections that the challenges have logical inconsistencies. The more evidences you know, the stronger your foundation will be for what you believe and the less likely you are to abandon what you believe or be swayed by another’s’ claims. Clearly, the college students in the “85%” statistic did not have a confidence in what they believed. When you know evidences for what you believe, you can have the confidence those 85% didn't!
Regarding evidences, even though evidences will give you greater confidence as a Christian, evidences contradictory to one’s non-Christian worldview will not often bring that person to a point of seriously considering a change to their belief, much less cause them to immediately accept Christ and Christianity.
Think about your own beliefs. What evidences against Christianity would you need to see to cause you to doubt your beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc., much less give up those beliefs completely? They would need to be significant and very convincing, right? It is highly doubtful that just hearing a few things that seem to prove that what you believe is wrong would make you change your beliefs. This is the same for someone who doesn't accept Christianity, and the strength with which they hold to their beliefs.
The primary reason a worldview is often more influential than evidences alone is because a person’s worldview is often the main factor in how they view the evidences and what those evidences prove to them. Evidence looked at through the lens of a person’s worldview will often look to that person to prove the conclusions of their worldview. Think about the beliefs of Evolution and Creation. The same facts are available to those of both beliefs and a number of those same facts are used as evidence to support each belief.
You may be wondering how the same evidence can be used to support two contradictory beliefs. This is possible when an evidence can be explained in more than one way. If more than one explanation can be given for an evidence, the evidence can be viewed as supporting different, even contradictory conclusions.
An example of an evidence that can have two different explanations is strata layers in rock. The evolutionary explanation is that each layer represents long time frames, so it is considered evidence for evolution taking long periods of time. The creation explanation is that the layers were all caused by a huge flood, with the layers deposited quickly by water, thus supporting short time frames.
One recent event that demonstrates this quick depositing of layers is the Mt. Saint Helens' eruption. The depositing of soil and subsequent erosion taking place created a canyon effect with strata layers having been created within 72 hours of the eruption. So with this modern day example of rapid geologic change, the strata layers provide evidence for very short periods of time. Does this mean that layers couldn't form over long time periods of time? No. However, the Mt. Saint Helens' eruption is one verifiable instance where strata layers were formed very quickly, supporting a Biblical Young-Earth creation explanation far better than an Evolutionary one.
I hope through this section that you now see that everyone has a worldview, even if they have never thought about what their worldview is. Even if you did not know until now what a worldview is, I hope you now see its influence over a person’s life and actions.
I hope as a Christian you also see the importance of knowing what a Biblical Worldview is and the importance of living consistent with it. It should affect every area of your life. If it doesn't, you’re probably living according to a non-Biblical worldview as 199 out of 200 do in the 18-23yr age range. A person can only live truly consistent with one worldview.
So what worldview are you living consistent with?
NOTE: If you are a parent of younger children and not yet thinking about college, there will still be challenges to what they believe in their school environment. The following provides information at more their level, and is a good place to start.
A Parent’s Guide to the 5 Skeptics Who Want to Shame Your Kids for Being Christian
An Open Letter To Graduates – Sean McDowell
How Should Youth Leaders Prepare Students for College?
Who's Waiting for Your Kids?
Why Kids Leave The Church in College – Frank Turek
Intellectual Predators on Campus – Frank Turek
Equipping Youth with a Biblical Worldview – Sean McDowell
Youth Apologetics Training
World-Proof Workshops - Sessions 1-3 – 2014 – Jay Wegter
Biblical Christian Worldview: - Summit Ministries
Note: I thought there were only 6 videos available. I have found the others, not labeled the same and will include the links here shortly (Feb 7, 2019)
Biblical Training - Worldview (college level class)
SITES ON WORLDVIEWS:
The Seven Questions That Define a Worldview
All About Worldviews
What's A Christian Worldview
Why Is a Christian Worldview Important?
Search: Christian Worldview
Understanding the Times - Worldviiew Chart
How Some Postmodern Kids Used Logic in Berkeley
Christian Student Vs. Atheist Professor Collection
Real Life Challenges on Campuses
(Cross Examined – October 29, 2014: Getting Ready for Campus)
Getting Prepared for College
The Challenges College Students Face on Secular Campuses
The Challenges Facing Young Christians
Christian College Students: Top 10 Challenges Faced
Top 10 Challenges Christian Students Face In College
Response to Top 10 Challenges Christian Students Face in College
Challenges Facing Christian Students at UCLA
Are U.S. colleges hostile to Christian students?
Are Christian High School Seniors Really Ready For College?
College Prep Course -
How To Become A Self-Taught Apologist - Evan Minton
Preparing Students for College
Preparing Your Student for Secular College
Preparing Students for Anti-Christian Hostility
Summit Student Conferences
Summit Student Institute
Postures of the Mind, Affections of the Heart
Short audio - www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg2VXB-V8c0
Full audio presentation - www.christianbook.com/postures-of-the-mind-affections-heart/ravi-zacharias/9781612560588/pd/1166BD
Nurturing Christian Students As They Engage the Challenges of Atheism
22 Awesome Bible Verses for College Students
6 Ways NOT to Lose Your Christianity in the University Classroom
(2 min. Video at bottom of page)
Worldviews, Truth and Knowledge - Douglas Groothuis
Already Compromised – Book showing how Christian Universities have become compromised – Link to preview
The Atheist Challenge - Sean McDowell, PhD
The Atheists Challenge link is an excellent presentation by Sean McDowell! Sean takes the roll of an Atheist to demonstrate some of the very effective sounding arguments against God you are likely to face. Sean spends the 2nd half of the video answering the arguments he presented in the first half of the video. This video does a great job of showing how unprepared most Christians are to defend their faith against some of the very effective sounding arguments used to challenge Christianity.
In a few of the arguments Sean presents in the video, he references two of the latest scientific discoveries being used to challenge Christianity and the existence of God. They are the discovery of the Higgs Boson Particle and Planck Time. The links below show why they are not the challenge to Christianity as they first sound, and also how to respond to someone presenting these two challenges.
Higgs Boson Particle
Higgs Boson—The "God Particle"?
The God particle and the trump card
In Science We Trust
Is God Real? Does Science Answer "Is There a God?"
Next Section: Challenging Statements Pt1