Want to know more about religion? Ask an atheist.

Interesing study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, atheists and agnostics tend to know more about religion than members of most faiths, the Los Angeles Times reports. For example, most Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the founder of the Protestant movement. Atheists took the top spot in the survey, followed by a tie between Mormons and Jews.

Why did atheists do so well? The study concluded that those who reject faith often do so after growing up in a religious household, and studying and deliberating keeping the faith. Also, atheists and agnostics tend to be better educated in general. Why did Christians do so poorly? It may be because once someone accepts a faith, they stop examining it.

Two things jump out at me.

The first is the obvious ignorance that religious people have of their own religions in contrast to those who lack belief. While I certainly wouldn’t expect every Christian to be an expert in Systematic Theology, I’m often started by how foreign church history, theology, etc. are to many Christians.

Second is that most Christians I know tend to assume that atheists and/or agnostics do not believe because they’re simply ignorant of the claims of Christianity. In my experience, this is very rarely the case, and this article seems to suggest that most atheists have fairly thorough understandings of the major claims of the major world religions.

Any other thoughts?

Story here: http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/09/28/survey-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-believers/

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3 thoughts on “Want to know more about religion? Ask an atheist.

  1. I was just thinking about this the other day. Seems to me that real faith takes a lot of thought and consideration of possibilities. Faith is supposed to open doors, not shut them.

  2. Nice find Ben, really eye-opening read that happens to be pretty accurate on my personal story. I was raised a Catholic, attended a Catholic high school, even considered the priesthood at one point. At around age 15, I was faced with a lot of questions that my religion couldn’t answer, many of which were about the religion itself. That said, I respect and admire those who pushed through those and found the answers they were looking for. While I looked quite hard, I never found them.

    So I moved on from Christianity, I studied Buddhism (very extensively), Hinduism, I poked my fingers into Judaism and Sufi Islam, and finally just accepted the fact that I can’t expect religion to answer my own questions about life. I need to wait patiently and let my own spirit find its way. I know that’s not acceptable in many religions, Christianity included, as a lack of acceptance of Christ as my savior is damning alone. I happen to trust my faith in spiritual justice a bit more than the words of man immediately or the words of man in a book, like the bible. I can’t comprehend that a just god is out there that would damn me to hell if I didn’t accept the word of man– and instead hoped to find my path to enlightenment on my own.

    Needless to say, in all that studying, in growing up a Christian, in the countless books and teachings I’ve explored in Buddhism, I’ve learned quite a bit. While I doubt my story is overly common amongst atheists, I believe there are a lot like me. Fortunately, the education I have experienced allows me to respect and admire people of faith– insofar as their actions are mutually respective to people on paths like mine. Coincidentally, you fit that category quite well, hence me being here in the first place.

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