I was interested, some time ago, to read an article on the attitudes and values of American university students. The article had the intriguing title, “Sex, Sympathy, and Success.” The article, however, raises questions of more than local interest: the article raises questions which are of quite fundamental importance to Christians all over the world.
The author begins by pointing out that American students are desperately anxious to abide by the values of their social group, to do the right thing, to conform to social patterns, and to achieve success. American students, in this regard, differ little from university students in other parts of the world. The writer discovered that most students think that religion is a good thing; several students expressed the view that religion gives you poise; it facilitates the process of psychological adjustment; and it helps you to become a well-rounded personality. Not only does religion help you to achieve adjustment, it also helps you to win social acceptance. One freshman expressed the view that “religious qualities and high moral character are essential to success.” Thus the profession of religion, in the competitive economic world today, helps a man to get to the top. As though personal adjustment and social acceptance were not enough, there is also the prospect of financial reward. “The warmth derived from spiritual satisfaction,” another student says, “is a prime requisite in success. Religion and business serve one another.”
I want to examine, in a little more detail, the implied assumptions behind these comments and assertions. What we need to note, and to note carefully, are the reasons which are advanced for being religious. It is not that religion is necessarily true, the ...1
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