This is how many secular teachers treat the traditional beliefs of students. The strategy is not to argue with religious views or to prove them wrong. Rather, it is to subject them to such scorn that they are pushed outside the bounds of acceptable debate. This strategy is effective because young people who go to good colleges are extremely eager to learn what it means to be an educated Harvard man or Stanford woman. Consequently their teachers can very easily steer them to think a certain way merely by making that point of view seem fashionable and enlightened. Similarly, teachers can pressure students to abandon what their parents taught them simply by labeling those positions simplistic and unsophisticated.

A second strategy commonly used to promote atheism on campus utilizes the vehicle of adolescent sexuality. “Against the power of religion:’ one champion of agnosticism told me, “we employ an equal if not greater power—the power of the hormones.” Atheism is promoted as a means for young people to liberate themselves from moral constraint and indulge their appetites. Religion, in this framework, is portrayed as a form of sexual repression.

The story of how young people move from a childhood of innocence and piety to a questioning, sexually liberated, and finally cynical adolescence is now a familiar one in Western culture. While this is often represented as a form of enlightenment or liberation, it also represents an ideologically motivated attack on religion and traditional morality. Religion and morality are either excluded from consideration or treated with presumptive disdain. Biologist Kenneth Miller, who has testified in favor of evolution in court trials, admits that “a presumption of atheism or agnosticism is universal in academic life…. The conventions of academic life, almost universally, revolve around the assumption that religious belief is something that people grow out of as they become educated.”