Pew Study Does Not Say Atheists Know the Bible Better Than Theists


My Actual Score
(that block thing at the right
is my score, it's off scale)

I've seen it two ways, Know the Bible better or know "religion" better; both are misleading.
example: tpix "Atheists Know the Bible Better than Christians?"

How much do you know about religion? In a recent survey by the PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life, most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life. The survey surprisingly found it's not evangelicals or Catholics who did the best - it's atheists and agnostics. It's not Bible-belt Southerners who scored highest - they where at the bottom of the survey. What a sad state of affairs when atheists and agnostics know more about the Bible than Christians.

Last week the net was abuzz with talk of a Pew study that said atheists know the Bible better than Christians do. I found about 14 blogs referring to it and it was on message boards all over. The Actual study is available on the Pew site it's called "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey." The press began saying the study shows "atheists know more about religion." what it really says is that atheists know more about religion other than Christianity, than do Christians. That's not so unreasonable given the exclusivity most Christians believe their faith has over others. The media turned it into "atheists know more about religion" us as the Los Angels Times, (Tuesday Oct, 19th)"Atheists, Agnostics most knowledgeable about religion surveys say."

"Religious IQ: Why do Atheist Outscore Christians?" The Week "A significant number of Christians don't know the basics about their own professed faith or other major religions, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey, while atheists and agnostics have the highest "Religious IQ,"

The study doesn't say anything about an IQ, but it's plots the answers on a bell curve. The Pew Site offers a short version of half the questions (the original is 32 the short version is 15). I took the short version (see my score above I'm the only one got every question right and went off scale). The site "debating Christianity and religion" says "Atheists know more about the Bible" than do Christians.

The point is of the 15 questions11 were not about the Bible or Christianity. So the test was biased in the beginning to screen out Christians. I suggest it was a put up a job, designed to give other than Christians a higher score. Why would Pew want to do this? Pew is a respected polling organization but is ran by an private family that is very Evangelical and the Pew Evangelical trust gives a lot of evangelistic enterprises. They want to do that because they are the tough kind of Christians. They want to shame the chruch into learning more about the bible and about religion in general.

"The United States is a nation of religious illiterates," says Boston University professor Stephen Prothero, whose research on Americans' spiritual ignorance inspired a new study that has religion teachers and ministers aghast,"(from the Week)

Here's what the study actually says:

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

So it's up front about world religion and the media turns into religion as a whole and atheists sites turn into "know more about the bible." The actual study doesn't say that. The 15 question version 11 questions were about subject not in the Bible and off those about 3 were Christian history. Most the study is about world religion (I got them all right anyway). The study results say and the site reflects with a table and big capital letters that atheists know more about world religion But Mormons and Evangelicals know More about Christianity. That would seem to contradict the whole mocking point upon which most atheists are gleefully claiming that they know about "the Bible" than do Christians. On Bible White Evangelicals score 7.3, Mormons 7.9 whle Atheists score 6.7.

from the Pew study site:

Previous surveys by the Pew Research Center have shown that America is among the most religious of the world’s developed nations. Nearly six-in-ten U.S. adults say that religion is “very important” in their lives, and roughly four-in-ten say they attend worship services at least once a week. But the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey shows that large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions – including their own. Many people also think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are stricter than they really are.
religious-knowledge-03 10-09-28More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53%) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-ten Jews (43%) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.
In addition, fewer than half of Americans (47%) know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist. Fewer than four-in-ten (38%) correctly associate Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism. And only about a quarter of all Americans (27%) correctly answer that most people in Indonesia – the country with the world’s largest Muslim
The survey should shame Christians, however, because it shows some shocking ignorance. Catholics have had a tradition of placing Church authority over Bible, but half of these guys don't even know their own church's stand on transubstantiation. Come on that's the one doctrine that is more uniquely Catholic!

There is a crying need for Christians take more of an interest in learning. Its also apparent that we need to branch out from just the bible and learn about religion as a whole.

It is not shocking once you look at the questions why atheists would do better than Christians on those questions where they scored higher. Most of those are world religion questions such as "which of the following is an Islamic Holiday, 'Ramadan, Duwali or Christmas.' I got this one right too. Most Christians don't learn enough about Hinduism to even know their major holiday. BTW Duwali is the festival of lights. The celebration of rebirth and triumph of good over evil, they celibate with lots of little candles and lanterns and lights, they have parities. I think it should be a point with Christians to learn about festivals of re-birth.


Thesauros said…
The thing is, if God has called someone to salvation, s/he really doesn't need to know about anything else to grow into Christlikeness. That sounds awful but it's true. Now for that person to not know that the account of Jesus' life begins in Genesis 1:1, to not know that Jesus' life is intimately tied to the history of Israel and that those two stories overlap and continue all through Scripture, and therefore not know the history of h/her faith, that is not ok.

What I'm saying is that,yes, we should all spend our lives learning as much as we can about all sorts of things, but in reality, we don't need to do that to become who God wants us to become (romans 9:29) someone like Jesus
Sue said…
Dear Joe, i think many atheists grew up around Bible reading, and the passages (which are many) point to the glaring fact that most people - and many professing chtistians - won't make it to heaven. i think alot of atheists became atheists because they can't live with this haunting fact. Sue
First of all I was commenting on a thing goimgn around back im 2011 about a specific study of Pew research and atheist misinterpretation of it.

secondly you do not know any such "fact." God has not given it to you to know who goes to heaven and who does not.
Very useful blog content. Thanks for sharing your good thoughts here. These are all great aspects of learning the Bible concepts which was so similar to Pastor Chris holy bible terms and preaching.

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