Monday, March 19, 2012

When you don’t believe in God, you don’t believe in nothing.

Via Mangan and Half Sigma, the Pew Forum Religion Quiz.  For what it’s worth, Φ scored 14/15, missing the question about Nirvana (it’s Buddhist, not Hindu).

Here is the Executive Summary:

religious-knowledge-01 10-09-28

On questions about Christianity – including a battery of questions about the Bible – Mormons (7.9 out of 12 right on average) and white evangelical Protestants (7.3 correct on average) show the highest levels of knowledge. Jews and atheists/agnostics stand out for their knowledge of other world religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism; out of 11 such questions on the survey, Jews answer 7.9 correctly (nearly three better than the national average) and atheists/agnostics answer 7.5 correctly (2.5 better than the national average). Atheists/agnostics and Jews also do particularly well on questions about the role of religion in public life, including a question about what the U.S. Constitution says about religion.

Well, the questions were about what the Supreme Court says about religion, not the actual text of the Constitution, but whatever.  The interesting thing to me was that all groups scored highly on what SCOTUS doesn’t allow (teacher led prayer), but everyone tanked the question on what they do allow (Bible as literature).

Jewish performance is of course complicated by it being an ethnic as well as religious category.  But I’m curious as to why atheists take the trouble to seek out (as opposed to absorbing from the culture around them) information about eastern religions (if that is a fair characterization) when their identity as atheists ought to imply a rejection of all religious belief, not just Christianity.

Or . . . maybe it doesn’t?


Elusive Wapiti said...

Missed the bit about Jewish sabbath...thought it was Saturday (viz 7th Day Adventists), and not like Jumma for Moslems.

Also, re: atheism vs Christianity...I vote "it doesn't", as in I observe that atheists are mostly mobilized against Christianity, possibly since Christianity is the dominant religious residue in this country.

Double Minded Man said...

I hate these "studies." They list a bunch of surfacey things about numerous religions and then claim that Atheists know the most about religion, when it is simply that they know surfacey things about many religions and not the deeper info of religions that define "religious knowledge."

Its as if they are designed to show atheists as the most knowledgeable, when the reality is vastly different.

Double Minded Man said...

14 of 15 BTW

The Debunkist said...

Greater antagonism towards Christianity I would have to say is mostly a result of it being the dominate religion of most developed Western Nations (where most atheists live), and thus the most likely religion to be imposed upon them. Whereas eastern religions are more of a curiosity, and not an institution that wields actual power. I've read of an atheist from India who had similar attitude towards Hinduism because that was the dominant religion where he was from. Atheists tend to know more about eastern religions only in comparison to their devout christian counterparts who often have little interest in eastern religions.