Positive Correlation of Mormonism and Scientific Education
20 February 2008 (updated 25 April 2009)
Although there may be a general positive correlation between education and secularism, among Mormons there appears to be a positive correlation between education and religiosity. This observation was perhaps first made formally by Richard Wootton in the 1950s. Wootton’s study, updated in recent years to be based on sixty years of data up to the year 2000, suggests that Utah (and Utah Mormons in particular) produces more scientists per capita than any other state in the United States. Moreover, it reveals that Mormon scientists overwhelmingly report “very strong” adherence to their faith. A 1984 data analysis, “Secularization, Higher Education and Religiosity”, by Stan Albrecht and Tim Heaton also identifies the positive correlation between education and religiosity among Mormons. Most recently, despite an increasing United States high school dropout rate, the LDS Church reports that Mormon teenagers are countering that trend, staying in school, and in many cases taking extra classes.
Mormonism has a long tradition of support for education and science. Joseph Smith taught that “the glory of God is intelligence.” (D&C 93: 36) Brigham Young claimed that “God is a scientific character.” (Journal of Discourses 13: 300) Orson Pratt advocated that “The great temple of science must be erected upon the solid foundations of everlasting truth; its towering spires must mount upward, reaching higher and still higher, until crowned with the glory and presence of Him, who is Eternal.” (Deseret News 22: 586) James Talmage encouraged Mormon youth to “consider scientific knowledge as second in importance only to that knowledge that pertains to the Church and Kingdom of God.” (Science in the Associations) Most recently, Gordon Hinckley said, “This Church came about as a result of intellectual curiosity. We believe in education, and we spend a substantial part of our budget on the education of our young people. We expect them to think. We expect them to investigate. We expect them to use their minds and dig deeply for knowledge in all fields. If we have a motto, it is this, ‘The glory of God is intelligence.’”