Tuesday, September 28, 2010

US atheists know religion

I've heard the claim before that atheists and agnostics generally have more knowledge about a specific religion than the religion's actual followers, but this is the first time I've come across a formal study that suggests that this is the case.




7 comments:

Phil said...

Thanks for providing that excellent article! As a Christian, I'm not really surprised by those findings, and I think the article pointed out two reasons why.

First, it noted that "The US is one of the most religious countries in the developed world." What this undoubtedly means is that many US citizens had a religious upbringing, and simply inherited the label of their family's particular faith without bothering to truly "make it their own" and examine the faith for themselves. This is particularly true of Roman Catholics (who scored lowest, btw)-- many Catholics I know possess a die-hard allegiance to the label, but it's more as a cultural identifying mark to them than a description of their true beliefs.

It makes sense then, that the survey observed "those who said they attended worship at least once a week and considered religion important in their lives often performed better on the overall survey." In other words, those who went beyond simply claiming their faith as a cultural mark-- those who actually believed-- tended to truly know what their faith is all about.

In short, what this survey conveys to me is that there are a lot of false professions of faith out there. As a person of faith, of course that's troubling, but really not at all surprising.

Anonymous said...

I read that this morning and smiled. I often feel that I am far more equipped in a healthy debate regarding the bible than my christian friends, and I hear the same from other atheists. Thank you for posting, Kevin!
~Dar Alluding

Mark said...

I think this supports the idea that many blindly believe their religion is true without seriously investigating it.

steve j said...


The Lord giveth
and deceit calleth away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

ali said...

The christians are living in delusion created by the emoeror in the nicene council when he killed 10 unitarian christians and saved his kingdom after cicvil war and this was political game plan at the cost of the pure montheistic teachings of jesus-see www.jesuswillreturn.com www.perishednations.com
It was in 325 C.E.
http://www.google.co.in/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=The+newly-converted+Emperor+Constantine+had+hoped+Christianity+would+be+the+uniting+force&btnG=Google+Searchthat the Roman emperor Constantine played an important role in determining the future beliefs of Christians.
Constantine, a professed but unbaptized Christian, called a special council of bishops of the Church at Nicea in the year 325 to consider the question. As a result, the doctrine of the Trinity became official dogma defining Jesus as coequal, coeternal and “of one substance” with God.
Viewing religious division as a threat to the unity of the empire, he summoned a council of bishops at Nicea . After two months of debate, the unbaptized emperor decided in favor of the Trinitarian advocates.
Reports the “Encyclop√¶dia Britannica” (Vol. 6, p. 386): “Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the [Nicean] creed, many of them much against their inclination.” Dissenters were banished.
Thus, pagan philosophy and decrees of political rulers helped to shape the doctrine of the Trinity and give it the popularity it has today”. (Source, Awake! Magazine, April 22, 1980 issue page 20)

Anonymous said...

I take a similar stance / interpretation to others but harsher. Generally athiest are educated persons who question faith whilst Christians are a mix of US citizens. Clearly the average US citizen is not very knowledgeable even in the area of their own religion.

Wendy M said...

I agree... I had a genuine spiritual birth 24+ years ago which is recorded in my Blog. However, I never actually got to know God well until a
tragic accident happened almost 4 years ago. Yes, I entered a relationship with Jesus at conversion and knew His leading and guiding in my life back then but I didn't foster this relationship (my part, i.e. prayer and meditation upon the Word plus obendiece to the Word) and as a result, my personal experience with the Lord was limited to my conversion. It was after the accident 4 years ago that I began to truly seek God again through His Word and prayer and as a result, the knowledge I had gained re: God down through the years permeated from my head to my heart and my relationship with the Lord began to develop. I don't just know about Jesus in my head but I know Him in my heart. You see, it is possible for athiests and professing Christias to have a lot of head knowledge about Jesus but it is a world apart having heart knowledge (i.e. a continual living relationship with Jesus). We can only have such a relationship if we take time to spend in the company of another, i.e. in Jesus' case - via prayer and the study and application (i.e. obedience) of His Word. The Bible teaches us that "the Word without the Spirit is dead" and that is what we get when we seek to read/study God's Word without the Holy Spirit's help, i.e. we gain 'head knowledge' but it is 'dead knowledge' because we have come to it in our own power and understanding quite apart from the Holy Spirit. Many professing Christians either don't read God's Word or they read it without the Holy Spirit's annointing upon it. They say they belong to Jesus and defend their corner but if they were to examine their hearts, they would probably feel empty and lost because they don't have a deep rooted relationship with the Lord. The parable of the sower and the seed comes to mind.