The More You Know About Religion: The Less Likely You are to be Religious
By David G. McAfee
It’s official. The more you know about religion, the less likely you are to be religious. The news is all over the web and national news programs, so I’m sure you’ve heard. But if you haven’t, you can catch yourself up here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html. Essentially, we learn from this New York Times article a few basic things.
Atheists/Agnostics were ranked the highest in overall knowledge about religion, when asked “32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life” according to the recent NY Times article. The survey gave insight into an issue that I (and many others) have been talking about for years, and that’s ignorance on religious topics among individuals who classify themselves as “religious”. Generally, in America, this problem is associated with the Christian majority- and the survey validates this by showing the following statistics regarding Judeo-Christian literacy:
- Fifty-three percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation.
- Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in Holy Communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.
- Forty-three percent of Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the foremost rabbinical authorities and philosophers, was Jewish.
It is not surprising to me that this phone survey sponsored by independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which contacted more than 3,400 people for these religious inquiries, had such a gloomy outlook regarding religious knowledge in the United States of America- it is, however, quite disheartening. Given that US Citizens are now aware of this blind-faith sense of religion that is so popular, perhaps this will spur some people to have an interest in religious affairs, and do some independent research for themselves. Personally, the part that bothers me most about this recent poll is simply the number of people who consider themselves “Christian” (perhaps as a default, cultural, setting) but know little to nothing about the founding principles and pillars of their religion.
More important than this hypocrisy of religion, however, is the direct correlation that now exists (in a documented survey format) between biblical knowledge and atheism/agnosticism. In the comments section, I’d like to hear what everybody thinks about this- regardless of your religious affiliation.