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Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says (Compared to Believers)
Los Angeles Times ^ | 09/28/2010 | Mitchell Landsberg

Posted on 09/28/2010 6:31:00 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term "blind faith."

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn't identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren't sure — were more likely to answer the survey's questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

"These are people who thought a lot about religion," he said. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."

Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well educated, and the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best educated. However, it said that atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.

(Excerpt) Read more at mobile.latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Current Events; Religion & Culture; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology
KEYWORDS: agnosticism; agnostics; atheism; atheists
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To: Claud
I don’t know the methodology of the study so perhaps this was addressed, but taking a self-selected sample of the population and comparing it to one from the general population is quite likely to give exactly the result they got, and probably doesn’t prove much.

I agree. I was discussing the philosophical aspect of it all rather than the validity of the survey.

51 posted on 09/28/2010 5:29:09 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
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To: Claud; Soothesayer
But as I came out of the sunshine of youth and college, I saw increasingly that the beauty of the world was marred by so much terror and death. Even the passing of time is a savage brutality in a way.

This is a key point in the logic of faith. I most often hear it when some innocent, like a beautiful 4 year old child, gets killed in an accident or is murdered. A frequent refrain is, "How could a loving God allow that to happen?" The obvious, to me, answer is that it is only tragic if THERE IS NO GOD. A loving God with a plan and a loving hereafter takes the sting out of that.

... I could not BELIEVE the profound intellectual and spiritual wisdom in Christianity when I started to delve deeply into it.

I used to work with mathematicians and other scientists and engineers. We drank together and raised Hell when on out of town trips. (And with generous expense accounts.) However, when I would bring up my Christianity they were completely turned off. I often admonished them that Christianity was a much more sophisticate and exciting intellectual pursuit that they could imagine. They just waved me off and I doubt any of them ever explored it.

Yet, were we all believers there would be no market for the thousands of self help books and rehabilitation centers. There would even be less need for our massive medical system. There is a lot behind the words with Christianity.

52 posted on 09/28/2010 5:53:55 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
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To: SeekAndFind

While a lot of you rail against this survey just because you don’t like what it says, it aligns perfectly with my own experience. Walk up to most members of an orthodox Christian faith and ask them if Jesus Christ and the Father are two separate people, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll get a yes.

I reject the idea drawn from it however that being educated is somehow incompatible with faith and you don’t have to look too hard for a counter example. Such as we Mormons are generally well educated, scored high on this survey, and are a growing religion too.

Rather I think those who are in a religious minority (atheists, Jews, Mormons) have to swim against the current of society to remain faithful. Their beliefs are frequently challenged by others so they have to have a better understanding of it.

There are also cultural factors. Mormons are very active in missionary work among peoples of all faiths, and that leads them to have experiences that inform them of what other faiths teach.

Instead of looking for a reason to ignore this survey, Protestant and Catholic leaders should look in the mirror and ask themselves what they can do to better inform their followers.


53 posted on 09/28/2010 7:25:53 PM PDT by Grig
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To: DBrow

The link isn’t working, is there a mirror somewhere?


54 posted on 09/28/2010 7:36:10 PM PDT by Grig
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To: Grig

It’s still being hit hard, I think. I tried for 15 minutes to get a download. Everyone is trying to look at it at once.


55 posted on 09/28/2010 7:44:08 PM PDT by DBrow
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