Church people often ask me, “What’s happening on college campuses these days? What are students like?”
I usually start my reply at the macro level, and talk about atheism, because along with its softer cousin, agnosticism, it’s the most dominant view on campus.
Actually, there are two kinds of atheism in the university world: modern and postmodern. Generally speaking, moderns are found in STEM,* postmoderns in the humanities.
Moderns believe in truth, as do I. But they say I’ve got it all wrong. On the other hand, postmoderns don’t really believe in truth at all, so they think Christians like myself and Muslims and a few others who claim to know truth have fallen into arrogance.
As might be expected in this philosophical traffic jam, modern atheists and postmodern atheists sometimes collide. One day a “modern” philosophy professor I know pointed to a neighboring department in the humanities and said quite simply in my hearing, “Those people are nuts.”
So that’s the big picture.
Zooming in, students as individuals are not easy to understand. You can check out professional surveys at Pew, Hart, and Gallup. There you’ll read about students’ deep concerns about gun violence, conservative politics, gender justice, preparedness for the workplace, LGBTQ, and other issues.
My own thoughts about this student generation will be in the next post. I really love them. But they’ve also got me pretty concerned.