Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Are you smarter than an atheist?"

57 percent of Protestants can name the Bible’s four gospels.

I found that fact in the Christian Science Monitor's article "In US, atheists know religion better than believers.  Is that bad?"   I read the article after taking their quiz on religious knowledge, "Are you smarter than an atheist?"  (Hat tip to Nicola of Back to Books for pointing me to this.)

Really?  Only a littler better than half of Protestants know the names of the gospels?   The basis of the article is this:
Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups in a 32-question survey of religious knowledge by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. On average, Americans got 16 of the 32 questions correct. Atheists and agnostics got an average of 20.9 correct answers. Jews (20.5) and Mormons (20.3). Protestants got 16 correct answers on average, while Catholics got 14.7 questions right.
The article is fairly short; read the whole thing.  I disagree with the people who say "academic" knowledge about one's religion is not important.  I don't think everyone has to be a Biblical scholar but understanding the basics of one's own religion, and others too, is important.  How can we talk intelligently about our beliefs if we don't know much about them?   And why do people who reject faith know more about it than believers? 

Of course we don't use a quiz like this as a marker for faith. I think it just shows a lack of curiosity.  Learning about other religions is interesting to me and I don't fear that I'll learn something that will make me question my own Christian beliefs.  I don't worry about that with my kids, either.  I think the more we know, the better. 

Take the quiz.  It's only 32 questions, nearly all multiple choice.  Some are related to prayer in schools in the US.  I had to guess on a couple of questions, and there were some I knew the answers to but have no idea why. I'm going to have my kids take it too.  I don't expect them to do well.  There are some questions about Mormonism and Judaism that will probably stump them.  I'll be interested to see if they can correctly answer the questions about prayer in school. 

What do you think?  Is intellectual knowledge unimportant?  Can we have a strong faith if we don't know much about it?  

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.   - Matthew 22:36-38


DADvocate said...

I got 28 right, almost double the average Catholic. I've always been curious about religions.

Birdie said...

I missed four questions, so I suppose that I have a few more things to learn!

Barbara Frank said...

I just took a similar shorter quiz this morning:

Funny how we homeschoolers are so attracted to quizzes, lol. :)

Maria said...

well, I got 24 correct...I was feeling pretty smug through the first 15 then that gave way to mere humility,haha.

Jana said...

I got 14/15 on the shorter quiz posted elsewhere -- also, I'm Mormon.

Interestingly, I'm reading "Almost Christian" the new book out about the tenuousness of the faith in Christian teenagers, and the influence of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, a term that is getting quite a workout in the Christian world right now. A quote from the book, "Apart from 'being nice' teenagers do not think religion influences their decisions, choice of friends, or behaviors." This finding is based on an exhaustive survey of teens and religion. Based on what I am reading here, it seems that the problem with churches today is that they don't teach kids theology, church history, or doctrine. They simply water down the message into some idea that God exists to make them feel better about themselves.

I think that's why the scores come out as they do, especially since the results held when controlling for educational achievement.

wayside wanderer said...

I made a 100%....but I have taught worldviews for 4 years so I better do well. :)

Marbel said...

It looks like people reading here know more than the average American!

Birdie - don't we all have more to learn?! :-)

Jana - it seems that the problem with churches today is that they don't teach kids theology, church history, or doctrine.

I think you are right.

nebby3 said...

I got them all correct though I was guessing on a couple. I blogged about biblical knowledge here: