Non-Believers Know the Most About Religion

9/29/2010 12:54:17 PM

Tags: religion, knowledge, Spirituality, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Will Wlizlo

 gutenberg 

You’re at a cocktail party and the conversation takes an unexpected left-turn toward the topic of the world’s religions. How would you fare? Could you namedrop the three men thrown into a fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel? Or recite the Five Pillars of Islam? Do you know if a public school teacher can read from the Bible as an example of literature? If you don’t believe in God, you’d probably have a better chance of navigating this conversation intelligently. A new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that atheists and agnostics have a broader base of religious knowledge than any other religious group.

That’s not to say that believers don’t know anything about their own faiths, but rather that atheists and agnostics are well versed in a wider range of religious topics. Mormons and evangelical Protestants, for example, are very knowledgable on questions specifically relating to the Bible and Christianity, and atheists and agnostics aren’t far behind. According to the survey results:

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.

The study also revealed a few other intriguing facts about America’s collective knowledge. According to Pew, many Americans know the general history of Mormonism and more than a third of us read scripture at least once a week.

Pew has prepared a sample quiz, so you can find out how you stack up. (Full disclosure: the author of this post scored 13 out 15 and identifies as a curious agnostic.) 

(Thanks, Kottke.) 

Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life 

Image by NYC Wanderer, licensed under Creative Commons. 



Related Content

All the News That’s Fit to Sell

“The muscles of journalism are weakening and the muscles of PR are bulking up—as if they were on ste...

Help a Scientist by Looking at Stars

Mapping the universe is a vast and overwhelming job that scientists can’t do on their own. The websi...

Can Atheists Pray?

Listening to a mortar attack in Iraq, Army journalist and avowed atheist Spencer Case felt the urge ...

The Evolution of the Green Movement

Bryan Welch of Ogden Publications describes the history and future of environmentally responsible pu...

Content Tools
RSS




Post a comment below.

 

meruja owo
6/6/2012 12:56:06 PM
Magical spells really work!! I never thought there were still honest, genuine, trustworthy and very powerful spell casters until i met the spiritual helper, MERUJA OWO. last week he did a love spell for me and it worked effectively and now he just casted another healing spell for my friend who has fibroid and now she is totally free and she is presently the happiest person on earth, she keeps thanking me all day.. I just thought it would be good to tell the whole world about his good work and how genuine he is, i wasn't thinking i could get any help because of my past experiences with other fake casters who could not bring my husband back to me and they all promised heaven and earth and all they are able to do is ask for more money all the time until i met with this man. he does all spells, Love spells, money spells, lottery spells e.t.c i wish i can save every one who is in those casters trap right now because i went though hell thinking and hoping they could help me.i recommend MERUJA OWO for any kind of help you want. his email address is: Nativedoctor101@live.com if you want to ask me anything my e-mail is: dorispinto1001@gmail.com Kind Regards,



Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!