Atheists know more about god than believers do: survey -

Atheists know more about god than believers do: survey

Conscious rejection of faith leads to knowing more, says researcher


Atheist and agnostic Americans know more about religion than their religious fellow citizens, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. A survey found that self-identified non-believers answered questions about Christianity with better results than participants who identified as religious. For example, a majority of Protestants did not know who started the Protestant Reformation (Martin Luther), and 40 per cent of Catholics didn’t understand the concept of transubstantiation. Asked for his comment, Reverend Adam Hamilton told the LA Times, “I think that what happens for many Christians is, they accept their particular faith, they accept it to be true and they stop examining it.”

The Telegraph

LA Times

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Atheists know more about god than believers do: survey

  1. Of course! Critically analyzing your understanding of the world makes you more intelligent – duh. I've never met an intelligent theist.

    • Wow Christine, you really do live in a small shallow world of your own self-importance. To know so much as you do…you must be god!

      • Au contraire! Christine has been shown to exist.

        • True. And it's existance does indeed involve a distinct lack of intelligence, as you have shown, Sean.

          • Maybe you should learn how to write a sentence and how to spell before you question someone's intelligence, Eddie.

    • You sound like you're exposure to intelligent people in general has been very limited. I know plenty of intelligent people who believe in God, and plenty intelligent people who don't. And I've noticed a commonality that most intelligent people have: a very strong aversion towards declaring any specific belief system as superior. Stupid people, on the other hand, don't hesitate to declare their own belief system superior, while telling you how stupid the other guys are. You demonstrated that wonderfully in your post, though I doubt that was the intent.

    • I have met many. AFAIK they are no more rare than intelligent atheists.

  2. I do hope that "intelligent" atheists understand that there is no correlation between intelligence and faith. The two are not synonymous, and therefore, not mutual.

    • Wrong A.B., there have been studies and the most recent one shows a correlation between intelligence and religious beliefs. The more devoutly religious a person is, the lower the intelligence while non-religious people are always at the top of the I.Q. tests. This should not surprise anyone. If a person is willing to suspend critical thinking in the area of philosophy, then why would this same person be more intellectually curious in other areas of study? Hence, I give you the audience of Fox News, an audience willing to believe everything they're told without investigating to see if any of it is true. This is the sad nature of America today.

      • I readily believe that fanatically religious people are, on average, less intelligent. However, I would not be surprised in the least if hard core atheists were also less intelligent. One can be an atheist fanatic just as easily as a religious one. Both parties are equally sure that their belief system is the right one. Both parties are equally as likely to look down on others who do not share their beliefs. Both parties have deluded themselves into thinking that they are the intellectual superior of the other. Really intelligent people tend to avoid forcefully arguing the superiority of their philosophies. Sadly, that describes neither religious fanatics nor atheist zealots. Take a look at how many atheists have shown up here already and announced the intellectual superiority of their beliefs as though it were a simple fact. Does that not sound familiar? Who else does that? (Here's a clue: They read the bible a lot.)

        • It's pretty easy to say that Atheism and the religious have equal weight to their arguments, but that in and of itself is a fallacy. The Atheist's argument is one that hinges on the theist's lack of evidence. Any rational (and here is where the road forks) Atheist will inform you that there is no absolute certainty that god(s)/goddess(es) doesn't exist. The same, rational Atheist will inform you that they share the same lack of certainty regarding the existence of fairies, ghosts, the Lock Ness monster, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And the funny thing is that, purely in a logical context, they are correct. There is no evidence to support the existence of any deity or supernatural being that passes muster.

          I will admit, there are indeed some fairly empty-headed Atheists out there, but they generally tend toward the more passive end of the spectrum. They don't want to engage in an argument, they don't tend to make lofty claims. They usually just sit on their hands and hope to see someone else engage the Theist. The noisiest Atheists are the ones who have a modicum of intelligence and regard religion as an irrational worldview unfit for the modern age. Is it correct? I don't know. I can only cite the logical strengths of the arguments in favour of any deity based on the evidence at hand. I've droned on long enough, so I'll sum up as best I can:

          Religious arguments are futile. Arguing in favour or against a deity, of any sect or faith, hinges on generally scrupulous evidence and until sufficient evidence comes to light to make a strong inductive argument in favour of a deity, we should all defer to "suspension of judgement" because no one will ever be "right."

        • You should take a close look at wht Sean says here. It will show you that the atheist position is neither dogmatic, nor arrogant. It is a natural, and neutral position.

          When you refer to "less intelligent hard core atheists", I hope you are not refering to Dawkins or Hitchens; 'cause that would be dumb.

          I like to challenge agnostics to declare whether they are an agnostic-atheist, or an agnognostic-theist.

          Gnostic and agnostic refer to the level of certainty you have. (much like libertarian/authoritarian on a political left/right scale). Gnostic means absolute certainty, agnostic means not so sure.

          It forces you to take a stand on the preponderance of evidence.

          Every major atheist I am aware of falls into the agnostic-atheist catagory. How about you?

          • Sorry, purely atheist.

            What you and Sean are discussing are agnostics.

          • Please sum up for me what the atheist position is then Emily.

            What I think you are talking about, is as dogmatic as religious faith.

          • Everyone's an atheist.

            I just believe in one less god than you do.

          • but why Emily?

            Why do you "believe" that?

          • I believe in myself and what i hae learnt from my parents. i believe that they taught me everything i need to be able to make my decisions all by myself, with no need for third-party internvetion. i take FULL responsibility for my actions and require no delivenence/salvation from an unknown, unseen, unheard, unproven, non-existant fantasy. i make my own mistakes and i learn from them and then make new mistakes and learn from those too.

          • and here is something I never seem to remember to do…check my posts for errors (spelling and typos) before posting them!!! someday, somehow, i'll get it right…but apparently not right now!!

            P.S. – I did check this post though. :-/

          • How often during the day do you sit around asking yourself if Zeus exists or not?

            How often do you worry about what the world would be like if no one believed in Osirius anymore?

            Do you worry that your morality will suffer if it turns out there is no Odin?

            Probably never, right? In fact I'm sure you've gone for years without those names even entering your mind.

            The current 'god' is the same thing. Just another myth that will pass into history.

            It is the job of every rational person to make sure this religious nonsense doesn't do any more harm to humanity than it's already done, on it's way out the door. No final nuclear battles for Zeus or Baal or Mithras….or any other fairy tale.

            I know you're trying to be cute here, and deliberately misunderstanding plain English…but the fact of the matter is….there is no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life.

          • You are so close to the slogan on the buses, but you left out an important word… "probably".

            Only dogmatists argue from absolute certainty. Every atheist should concede that if Jesus came back tommorrow, and Yahweh appeared in the sky, we might have to rethink our position.

            We may not think that it's any more likely then leprechauns riding unicorns, but anyone who values truth should be amenable to evidence.

            You should check out the Hitchens video I posted below. You might find that he is more civil then you thought, and you will learn things you didn't know.

          • The original slogan didn't have 'probably' in them. It was changed by enablers to be 'nicer'.

            I know you're waiting for a sign from heaven….but so were all the devotees of Zeus, Osirius and Odin.

            Any rational person would consider it safe to conclude there isn't going to be one.

            Unless you want to waste another 5000 years that is.

            I've been an atheist for over 40 years, I'm aware of all the nonsensical arguments.

            I'm also aware that Hitchens calls HIMSELF and anti-theist, not an atheist, so I have no interest in him.

          • That is the major problem with you Emily, as has been told to you by many others.

            You have no interest in ideas that don't exactly match your own.

            It's quite an inflexible, and unreasonable, way to be.

          • As I've pointed out many times….I'm an atheist. Period.

            I've been one for over 40 years. I am not open to conversion.

            And I don't agree with enabling unreason.

            Unreason….and the large belief in fairy tales it entails…is why the world has always been such a mess of war and famine and disease.

            Time to end that.

            I am foursquare for the pursuit of knowledge

            There is no compromise possible with mythology.

            No amount of discussion or being 'nice', or polite, or moderate or tolerant will convince the devout…in fact it just encourages them in their beliefs.

            So, no quarter.

          • You are an unreasonable person, arguing unreasonably with some very thoughtful people. I know for a fact that this isn't the first time that's happened. You've shown very clearly in your posts here (and I'm sure elsewhere as well) that you have no interest in the pursuit of knowledge.

            You are absolutely convinced that you know the truth about every topic, and have no qualms about inflexibly and dogmatically stating and restating your nonsense with no regard whatsoever for arguments and facts which would cause a thoughtful and reasonable person to rethink their position.

            And unreason is not the reason for war, famine and disease. That is one of the most bizarre things you've yet to say, which is quite a feat.

          • Why should she consider another's viewpoints when she already knows everything? Emily only states facts. Therefore, if you disagree with her, you are disputing "facts", and thus are guilty of flawed reasoning, or lack of understanding. I shouldn't have to remind you of this, as she is only too happy to tell us herself. :)

          • Wait, she's all-knowing? Could Emily be… God?

            Why then the whole game of pretending she doesn't exist? She must be up to something sinister…

            ; )

          • do you believe in God? well, maybe you think you do. but here is a sad fact… if (and I mean IF) God does show up and tell you He is here talking to you, the first thing you will do is ask Him for PROOF that He is who He says He is; and in doing so you will nullify all your talk about faith and belief and all that other "stuff" you are saying we atheists don't have. And when He sez,"What the f***!?!? IT'S ME…GOD!!!" you will say,"Yeah yeah! I've heard it all before. Now prove it or be gone blasphemer!!"

          • So, "There is no compromise possible…" and "…no quarter" when it comes to religious belief (or lack thereof, be it partial or full) that doesn't fall lockstep with your own.

            Hmmm, I've heard that particular concept before somewhere…..

            Ah, got it: the Wahabbists, the Crusaders, and foot-washing Baptists. They're a swell bunch to listen to as well. I like how your type really highlight the 'fun' to be found in being a fundamentalist a$$hole.

            Me, I just hope that when the time comes, Freya selects me from the fray to train alongside the All-Father Woden in Valhalla until the time of Ragnarok.

          • If I had to chose, I'd be an agnostic-theist. I'm not sure this can be based on a preponderance of evidence where evidence is sorely lacking, but only on the fact that no human tribe has ever been discovered that did not believe in some sort of deity. Religion, along with language, and music, is one of the very few universal characteristics of human existence. In that sense it is quite natural. There is something within the human psyche that tends to steer us towards religion, likely as a result of our being the only species intelligent enough to become objectively aware of our own mortality. Religion became away of dulling the pain of that awareness. In fact, Dawkins, in his earlier work, postulated exactly that. Most evolutionary theorists have a similar explanation for the origins of religion. It is something that has its roots very deep in the human psyche. As such, when I see the aggressive rejection of all religion, I feel the same skepticism towards that rejection as I do towards religion itself. What will we replace it with? And without anything to replace religion, I don't see how a society where the vast majority of people are atheists can be anything but brutally nihilistic. The Freekorps of 1920s and 30s Germany comes to mind.

          • That's because the most basic core emotion of humans is fear.

            But the cure is not religion….it's knowledge.

          • I'm seeing your problem, and it is the assumption that atheist=nihilist.

            Try humanist, or free-thinker; it might suit your psyche better.

            The argument you are ultimately making is that people will revert to chaos without religion. I reject that as paranoid. Would you rape, and kill if freed from the fear of hell? That is not why we don't.

            Morality is totally separate from religion; unless you think that iron age morality is relevant today.

          • Did you realize that the Catholic church of your upbringing helped Hitler to power, and that Hitler was a member of the RCC until he died?

            Bringing up WW2 Germany is not a strong argument for religious morality.

          • Hitler had problems with the Freekorps and they were not representative of Germany which was a very religious Country. Despite evangelical propaganda and lies that Hitler was an atheist , the fact remains he was born a Roman Catholic and died a Roman Catholic and always kept close relations with the Christian Churches.

  3. "Conscious rejection of faith leads to knowing more, says researcher". Did the researcher actually say that? It seems to me that "Knowing more leads to rejection of faith" might be a more logical conclusion to draw from the survey.

    • WendellE I loved your logical response. I thought the same when I read the story.

    • Given the types of questions asked, your conclusion is not logical at all. How would knowing things like who started the Protestant Reformation (which is flawed as a question because it wasn't one person at all) and what the first book of the Bible is reduce someone's faith?

      • what can i say to you, JoeC? you have so proved the point WendellE was making. now if you could only analyse your own response to that statement, you might, just might, figure things out for yourself. the question here is,"Can you analyse your response to WendellE's statement?"

  4. The logical conclusion to be drawn from this survey should have nothing to do with causality in the first place, because of the fact that IT'S A SURVEY and can only establish a correlation (as opposed to a controlled experiment, which would obviously be unethical in this case). That said, I believe the actual case is a bit of both- critical thinking leads to rejection of faith, which in turn allows the mind to be more liberated from brainwashed ideology.

    • Well said!! :-)

  5. "Critical Thinking" is a humanist dogmatic term. It is meaningless. There is no such thing as "Critical Thinking." There is just thinking. Some thinking with more attention to detail and some thinking with less.

    And there is no correlation between faith and intelligence, as was God's plan.

    • There are theists out there capable of critical thinking, apparently you aren't one. That "just thinking" smacks of relativism, and false equivelence.

      You make it sound like anyones thinking is equally right. That is not reality.

      Also I believe that a very high percentage of scientists are atheist. That is not the only measure of intellegence, but it does indicate that the more you understand the natural world, the less need you have for a deity.

      Natural explinations have slowly been replacing supernatural ones for at least hundreds of years. It has never been that a supernatural explination has replaced a natural one. I suggest you get used to that.

      I'd also like to see the study that allows you, with certainty, to claim that faith and intelligence are not related. I have never seen such a study, and would be interested to see it.

      • And why do the beliefs of scientists count for anything when dealing with questions of philosophy? That is well outside their area of expertise, isn't it? Science is beautiful, because it is fact. Scientism, the creeping of "science" into areas that science can't possibly deal with, is not.

        My own education is in economics, and I've seen first hand just how thoroughly creeping scientism can actually diminish our understanding of subject matter. About 50 years ago, the field of economics was sent back to the dark ages by intellectuals who insisted on imposing "scientific rigour" to subject matter for which no reliable scientific methodology existed. The field of economics still has not recovered. Indeed, most practitioners still seems blissfully unaware of the mistake. Compare the prescience and elegance of thinkers like Fredreich Von Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises with any modern "economists", who, with few exceptions are glorified math monkeys, and you'll see what I mean.

        • Scientists don't deal in beliefs or philosophy You sound very confused.

          • Which is why it is pointless to invoke the beliefs of scientists when dealing with philosophical questions.

          • Atheists don't have 'beliefs' RR…that's what atheism means. Non-belief.

          • Sorry Emily, non-belief is a belief.

        • I do like your last sentence, but I don't see economics, and say something like physics, in the same way.

          When I talk about what it means to be human I am refering to the long history of humanity, before there were philosophers, or even homo sapiens.

          In my mind questions of religion are questions of theology, not philosophy. I don't think religion has anything further to contribute to philosopical discourse. They get their butts handed to them on every moral issue.

        • Great post.

          If only the people who insult others for their lack of self reflection and critical thinking would apply those same skills to their own beliefs.

          • Alas, it is human nature to assume that one's own beliefs are superior. I'm far from exempt from this basic human flaw myself. We can't get around human nature. But we need to be more aware of it than is often the case.

    • There is no such thing as "Critical Thinking."

      There is a certain muppet-frog commenter around here who will be very sorry to hear that.

  6. Claiming to know the mind of God, are we, Theist?


    • That's one of the things I like about theists! Makes for some interesting "discussions", wouldn't you say?!

    • And don't forget that they're modest as well!

      Don't ever think of calling them arrogant – they're just telling you what God thinks.

  7. Most obvious thing ever.

    Not only do they generally not bother to examine their faith, they claim to know all the big answers about how we got here, and what it means to be human, so they don't need to examine those either.

  8. I am definitely not a religious follower but I would love to know the biases of the backers of this 'survey' before I'd comment.

    • And voila, the first 2/3rds of your comment reinforce the findings of the survey!

  9. I find this more a damning indictment of the American education system than anything else. (Ha – a pun!) Religious or not, you should know who Martin Luther is, and have at least a basic grasp of the social and political implications of the Protestant Reformation. Especially in a country colonized by protestant religious refugees.

    • Everyone knows Martin Luther was murdered in Memphis in 1967. I mean… c'mon. :)

      Seriously though, if the fanatical atheists had their way, no religion would be taught in school at all, including the history of religion as it pertains to western civilization. In that sense, the atheists resemble no one so much as the religious fanatics who don't want evolution taught in schools. They're both so sure of their own belief system that they don't want the kids exposed to anything that might pose a threat to their world view.

      • Ha!

        Hmm…I don't know any extreme atheists, but I think all the atheists I do know would wholeheartedly support teaching the history of religion in schools. Things like the Spanish Inquisition and the Witch Hunts can only serve as good reminders that living in a theocracy is not nearly as fun as some would have you believe.

      • You are wrong here too. Most atheists would want all religions taught in school (in the same class). At least the fanatical ones I've seen would.

        What atheists have you been watching? Not too many I'm guessing, by the amount of strawmen flying.

  10. George summed it up: "Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bulls*** story. Holy S***!”

    • YES!!! Finally; someone who sums it up nicely…WTG(can I use that on my facebook?)

  11. I really, really resent that they lump agnostics and atheists into the same category. I'm agnostic myself, but that stems from a skepticism of everything, not from some fanatical adherence to my own belief system. I find atheists to be unfailingly obnoxious in the way they disparage the beliefs of everyone else. If you need evidence of that, look how many atheists have shown up on this thread already to announce their superior intelligence. Hell, some of them even cite studies that "prove" they're smarter. If atheists were so intelligent, why have they become just as obnoxious as the religious fanatics in declaring the superiority of their belief system? They've embraced some of the most unsavoury and repugnant characteristics of the religious extremists, and they're not even clever enough to see the irony in that. So much for superior intelligence.

    • I'm one of those superior atheists who has to explain to you why they lump "agnostics" and atheists together. Agnostic has no real meaning, it is redundant and useless since everyone by default must be agnostic to something that cannot be known. Either you live your life according to a set of rules decreed by a supernatural entity, or you simply live your life. There is no middle ground. People who claim to be agnostic hope to have a nice place to go to in the slim chance there is an afterlife. It's called Pascal's wager, and it's a pandering, wishy washy, pathetic position to take. Grow a backbone.

      • If I had any doubts about what I wrote, you've unwittingly dispelled them. You may be deluded enough to believe that only your world view is the correct one. But don't mistake that delusion for a backbone. The two are really quite different.

        • i am an atheist, and i fully agree with you. you like your delusion? i am happy to leave you with it. your backbone is also a delusion, but that sure holds up your primary delusion well. i am happy knowing that you are happy. cheers!

    • Neither agnostics nor atheists are believers….agnostics just like to hedge their bets LOL….but you can't put them in with religious people because they're not.

      A few years ago, atheists kept quiet….they were polite to believers, and never said anything in public. They were 'in the closet' so to speak.

      Then Bush happened, and the whole nonsense of a clash of religions….a new 'crusade'….and all the religiously insane came out of everywhere wanting to turn the US into a biblically run society….and they went back to torture…..religion became headline news again and a way of judging people, and worse, as a method of determining foreign policy. Evolution was in dispute in schools!

      Atheists had finally had enough….so they stopped being polite, stopped 'letting it pass', and spoke out publically about the utter nonsense religion is.

      Religious people are still reeling….they had no idea they had dwindled into a small band of loons, while secular society went on without them.

      • Sweet Jesus, you actually put a coherent post together! I'm not saying I agree with all of it, but parts of it are actually pretty good! Keep this up, and you'll become a functioning human being with actual reasoning powers. I hope.

        • I always do RR….you just have limited understanding.

        • Mr. Ranter, I have already seen your delusional powers. Now I would like to see your reasoning power too. As for being a functional "human being," I believe in your case, we make an absolute case for the creationists, eh!?

    • No, Mr. Ranter. No is claiming to be smarter than anyone else. The atheist on this thread are claiming to be more knowledgeable. They are two different things.



      • You're both nuts. Clearly, religions have started more people than all wars combined.

        • ;^)

    • what?

    • Talk about being grossly misinformed. It is simple fact that religions of the world are responsible for more death and suffering over the course of human existence than all plagues, natural disasters and all other mysterious deaths combined.

      Wake up theists! Religion is a system of control developed by the rich and powerful to keep the poor, stupid, and ignorant in a state of fear. And I think it is safe to say that the greatest single threat to global peace is organized religion (which is very comparable to organized crime except for the tax structure).

      • This is an utterly ridiculous (but oft-cited position) that has no support. The problem with this argument is that it mistakes the stated causes for conflict as the actual causes. When you look at actual conflicts, it is plain to see that most would take place with or without religious reasons.

        Lets take what should be a tough case – the Crusades. Here you have a war called for by the pope, aimed, usually described at recovering the holy lands. Yet is religion the cause? The conduct of many of the crusades suggests that religion was not very important at the end of the day. For instance, in the Fourth Crusade, the crusaders first stopped in Venice to commission ships. They quickly wracked up debts to the Venetians, which they repaid by sacking Constantinople (the Christian capital of Byzantium). For Venice this was especially fortuitous since Byzantium had been a major trading rival.

        The Crusades were a reaction to a major shift in the balance of power, not an attempt to recapture the Holy Lands for their religious significance. Byzantium was in decline, and losing territory to the Seljuk Turks and others. This threatened the status quo. You can see a similar story in many of the major wars of the past few centuries. Germany launched a major war to preempt a rising Russia in 1914 and 1939 (both of which were wars between Christians). As Napoleon steamrollered across Europe his conquests yielded counterbalancing coalitions. When Louis XIV looked to be in line to put a Bourbon on the Spanish throne, he too faced a world war.

        Religion explains remarkably few conflicts in world history. People assume it does largely out of ignorance, or because of a tendency to assume that everybody from "the olden days" was ignorant and irrational.

      • Right, I wasn't aware that organized religion was responsible for the development of nuclear weapons. I'm pretty sure atheist scientists were responsible.

      • And it goes hand in hand with conservatism

  13. Who's the idiot that wrote this article? Do they not know that "God" is capitalized in this context? I'm an atheist but I still follow basic grammar skills. How did this moron get a job at MacLeans?

    • Only if you're a christian.

      • Incorrect. That's like saying your shouldn't capitalize "Santa Claus" because you don't believe in him.

        In the sentence in question, "god" is being used as a name, not a classification, and should therefore be capitalized. If the sentence had read "know more about gods" then the lack of a capital "G" would be correct.

        I seem to remember you having this explained to you before.

        • It is discussing God in terms of gods…just one more in a long list. The quiz was about all religions you know.

          And no, it hasn't been 'explained' to me before, so don't be patronizing.

          • Proper nouns are capitalized. That is why 'gods' is with a small 'g' while 'God' is with a big 'G'. Now it has been explained to you.

  14. Well I can see this thread is going nowhere.

    • That became a near certainty the minute you showed up.

      • This from a guy who doesn't know what transubstantiation is?? LOL

      • the fact that you followed and are still here speaks TONS about you, Mr. Ranter!!

  15. Since we're on the topic, what is 'transubstantiation'. I had a (sort of) Catholic upbringing, but I never heard of that word.

    • It's the belief that the communion wafer and wine are actually transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ during mass. (I was raised sort of Catholic too.)

      • OK. Speaking of which, I find it disturbing that the insanitary practice of sipping wine from the same cup has made a comeback. When was a kid, the vast majority of Catholic churches had abandoned the practice. (In fact, I only saw it done once in my entire childhood – at a church in Colorado Springs.) I attended midnight mass last Christmas Eve (first time attending mass in 25 years) and was quite horrified to see them doing it. My parents told me it had just recently been brought back, due to the rather incessant demands of a handful of true believers. Needless to say, I took the wafer and refused the spirits. No pun intended.

        • I've never seen it done any other way, but I haven't been to mass in a long, long time. Whenever I used to think about it, I would comfort myself with the thought that alcohol is a disinfectant. The same way I comfort myself with the thought that eating an entire bag of chocolate covered almonds is a really good source of protein and Vitamin E.

          • Apparently those in the know claim that wine is not nearly strong enough to kill harmful viruses and bacteria in the time between sips. I believe it.

    • Cannibalism.

      • Exactly my question to my Mom when I was very young. Imagine it exits the same way down where the sun don't shine.

        • Not terribly spiritual is it? LOL

          • You might be surprise, that exercise is actually more spiritual. There is more soul searching and self reflection done while one is sitting and doing you know what. I won't be surprise many reach enlightenment while doing that.

          • Well it's where Martin Luther got most of his ideas.

          • Funny my imagination usually runs amok, but my mind just refuse to imagine great minded people doing you know what, and wondering why none of them raise the humbling status of this exercise.

          • as the saying goes,"WHAT A RELIEF!!!?!?"

          • Sublime, I would say. Productive on both ends.

          • HA HA HA!! Nice one! :-)

      • *Symbolic, ritualised* cannibalism… hence the practice being socially acceptable amongst the God Squad.

  16. I would question the validity of this particular survey (and, I would like to point out that it's just one). Firstly, No details were given in the article on sample size or techniques by which the data was acquired. Next, I wonder if the information was broken down into 'practicing' and 'non-practicing' segments; my point being that I know plenty of people that call themselves 'Christian', but don't know their own religion or its basic tenets, and have never set foot inside a church door. Most of these believers are likely those who inherited the faith of theirs parents, but don't actively practice it yet still call themselves 'Lutheran' or 'Catholic', for example. I don't imagine that these people would have a great degree of understanding about their own religious faith or doctrine. Personally, I will identify myself here as a devout and practicing Catholic and it's for those reasons that I knew the answers to the article's leading questions on the reformation and Transubstantiation – I would suspect that those I know who are similarly devout would also know those answers. And it is for these reasons that I think the fundamental conclusions being drawn from this study (that atheists/agnostics know more about religion than believers) are bunko. I can drop out of a Math Degree in the first few weeks of a 4 year program and call myself a mathematician, but that doesn't make it so. And if that were the case, I'd expect a Chemistry major who hated Math but did well in it to know more. It's that simple.

    • Atheists know more about religion than religious people….because they examine something thoroughly before they accept or reject it.

      Obviously you did not.

      As to the survey itself, look it up. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has it's own website.

  17. Absolutely religion should be taught in school….every religion on earth, and their effect on the world.

    Richard Dawkins btw is an evolutionary biologist….so pay attention to what he says.

    Scientism : the belief that the assumptions, methods of research, etc., of the physical and biological sciences are equally appropriate and essential to all other disciplines, including the humanities and the social sciences.

    • Your definition of scientism is absolutely correct. And anyone who's studied economics with a critical eye can attest to just how damaging scientism can be. Scientific method, when applied inappropriately, merely gives the illusion of scientific rigour.

      • It is not in the least damaging, perhaps you just dont understand it.

        • It is damaging and I just explained why. The illusion of knowledge where none exists has a huge potential for damage because it….. Oh Khrist, what am I doing? I'm trying to explain the dangers of illusory knowledge to the queen of illusory knowledge. The error is mine. Never mind.

      • I don't think there is anything wrong with applying scientific method to the social sciences. Economics is messed up largely because they have opted for a limited methodological toolkit (heavy on formal modeling, with far too few case studies and often problematic statistical analysis).

        The problem is when scientific method is applied to normative questions. Science can only answer empirical questions. It can give us the costs and benefits of apples versus oranges but it can never enable us to choose. Interestingly, Antonio D'amasio has done experiments that looked at people with intact analytical capabilities, but damaged emotions (essentially, homo economicus in the flesh). In practice homo economicus is hopelessly indecisive because while he can identify the costs and benefits of different courses of action, he cannot make tradeoffs between these things.

  18. But Mark H while tests, grades and attendance to a college get to decide whether you are a mathematician or not, who gets to decide who is a "real christian" or not, so should they have applied some test based on attendancy to a church or involvement in their church activities to determine who can call themselves christians and who can't. Not that I'm going to measure the intelligence of christians or religious people based on your response but certainly you are not proving any contrary to the basic premise of this discussion with you argument because, can't you see that religion is all about believing, and since we can't measure belief we have to take people word for it, that's why it is called faith, it's not about what you do it's what you believe in, that's why christians celebrate the uprising of Jesus against his own religious establishment otherwise it would had being wrong to go against what a jewish at that time was supposed to do, I think you being a "religious person" should know that.

  19. To all the believers out there. No one is claiming to be smarter than you are. This survey only shows that some people are more knowledgeable than others. I don't know who conducted this survey or for what purpose it was conducted but I do know from personal experience that non-believers have a better grasp on these topics because they tend to discuss them more often. I am atheist to the bone but I respect believer's beliefs because I expect them to respect mine. I try not to have a condescending attitude when I discuss these topics (particularly with believers) because that just shuts people down and what could have been a great conversation turns into a battle of insults. I find that is the problem with a lot of us atheist, we tend to approach believers with a superior attitude.

    To the atheist. We all know there isn't a spirit in the sky watching every thing we do. But we have to understand that a lot people believe there is. When I was in India I was told that if I threw flowers at a statue of a god with a human body, four arms and an elephant head (Ganesha), I would prosper. Did I believe that? Of course not. But I am not going to tell the person who is telling me this that he is wrong. Those are his beliefs and the sooner we accept other people's beliefs the sooner we will achieve peace.

    Those are my two cents.

    • But we don't achieve peace that way….it's what we've been doing all along….letting it pass, going along with it, and we are now in 2 wars and possibly a 3rd soon, because of religion.

      Don't encourage unreason

      Don't be an enabler.

      • Here in Canada it is called being "politically correct." That is why we no longer say Merry Christmas but instead of that we have Happy Holidays. Back in India, everyone celebrates Christmas, religious beliefs are ignored in the joy of the occasion. The same goes for Eid, and Diwali and Holi. EVERYONE CELEBRATES. We call it secularism and it works wonders for peace!! Cheers!!

      • I don't think letting people exercise their religious belief is enabling them. We are in two wars because people were foolish enough to believe what Bush was saying. It had nothing to do with the belief in God. In fact, if we were following the Bible we would have never gone in to war in the first place. Bush used belief as a tool, just like Europeans used it to enslave Africans and conquer the new world. That tool worked because we can not except other people's beliefs. If I showed up to work tomorrow and said I was making decisions base on my conversations with Jesus, everyone in my job would think I was totally insane, believers and non-believers alike. Bush stands in front of a nation and says he is getting his orders from Jesus and the whole nation believes him. That is just plain stupidity and has nothing to do with religion or the belief in God.

    • Same score.

      Got the very last question wrong.

      Question 11 (I believe), the one about reading from the Bible as part of a literature study was interesting in that 23% got that one right…..not knowing that can only help to feed the feeling that religion is being oppressed by atheists/secularists.

    • Same for me too. Questions aren't that hard unless you have your head in the sand.

    • 100%.

      I'm a devout Roman Catholic.

  20. With so much contradictions, complexities, impossibilities, incomprehensibilites in every religious books out there, it will actually take a super human intelligence to make sense of them.

  21. What really amazes me is how Americans DEMAND that their leaders show their faith. I just saw an article on CNN where a woman demanded that Obama answer questions on his faith and on abortion.

    A couple of years ago I watched a debate of Democratic presidential candidates during the primaries that was totally based on faith. I watched in total disbelief as Obama, Clinton, and others tried to show that their faith was better than the others. ??? I guess that's what it takes to get elected down there.

    There is no logic to religion. It is total, total brainwashing–brainwashing of the ignorant masses who long for hope of something better.

    • And yet they claim to have freedom of religion!

      • They do have freedom of religion. If a candidate was an atheist and openly declared themselves so, they'd be welcome to run for any office they liked. Likely as a independent, but that's the freedom of others to choose their leaders based on whatever criteria they like.

        Sure, we don't typically base our campaigns around it, but has Canada ever elected a non-Christian as PM? How about a non-White?

        • No, they don't. In some states atheists aren't allowed to run….and at the federal level any openly declared atheist wouldn't even be considered.

          Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion but that's not acceptable in the US

          So we have candidates claiming to be devout….and then they get Bush and Clinton.

          We have no idea if we've ever elected a non-christian….or even a non-white….it's never discussed.

          • We do know: the answer is no, we haven't. And you don't think that someone running for PM being an atheist would become an election issue? Who's living in a fantasy world, now?

            The fact that an openly atheist would not be considered is not an infringement on their religious freedom. It is the right of voters to vote or not vote for whoever they want based on whatever criteria they want. You can try to spin that into religious persecution all you want, but it won't fly.

            I didn't know that 6 or so states don' tallow atheists to run. I'm amazed that those laws haven't been successfully challenged by now. Maybe there are no atheists in Arkansas who've run for office? But according to my research, if it were challenged, it would be struck down because of the US Constitution.

          • Yes, we do know: we have never had a non-white, non-Christian as a PM. You may not talk about it, but others do.

            If an openly atheist was running for PM, you don't think that atheism would become a serious topic of conversation in an election campaign? I would have thought that your vitriol for the CPC and religious organizations would have led you to say the opposite.

            Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. Other people have freedom of speech, and the freedom to vote however they like, whether you like it or not. Saying that you should be free from religion is no better than someone saying that they should be free from atheism.

            I'm not going to defend the half-dozen or so states with outdated laws (which wouldn't stand up if they were challenged due to the US Constitution), but people are free to vote based on whatever criteria they like. If that excludes some people from office, that's called democracy.

            I don't personally care about the religious beliefs of most candidates (baring the ones I think are nut jobs), but it's pretty dim to suggest that people's voting preferences, however they are formed, constitute a lack of freedom of religion.

  22. 100% from this Buddhist. Of course, I have a degree in religious studies, so I would have been pretty disappointed if I hadn't done well!

    For what it's worth, some of the questions are poorly worded, and one is inaccurate. The goal of Buddhism is not nirvana for the mass majority of Buddhists. Theravadans hold that as their goal, while followers of Mahayana/Vajrayana strive for perfect buddhahood. Actually, the more typical desire for laypeople is to achieve a good rebirth, but I guess that doesn't make for a cute survey question.

    Overall, I would say that a quiz with more general questions would be a better indication of general knowledge. I mean, the First Great Awakening? There's no way I would have known about that at all if I hadn't taken a class that touched on it in University.

    This is a good indication that we should be teaching about religion in our schools, academically of course.

  23. Those who believe in heaven, what do you expect to be doing there in heaven, that you can't do here on earth? Before you answer that question think of eternity not years, decades, or centuries. I am not asking this to mock religion, but out of curiosity.

    • You're asking a question that no one here can possibly answer. Personally, I dont think it's something we can fathom.

      • Churches make billions answering that very question.

      • If there is no expectations at all, why cling at the unfathomable?

        • Well, it might be just the way I am: I don't like knowing what's next, in life or afterward. So really I am just answering for myself.

          I can only fathom that it's good or better than anything we know on Earth. I just don't think it's a far stretch to simply not be able to comprehend what exactly it is.

  24. Watch atheist, free speech, and contraian warrior Christopher Hitchens, battle David Berlinski (idiot contrarian), while dying of cancer; in a perfect encapsulation of the atheist position.

    Enjoy the man while he's here.

    Skip to part 2 for immediate Hitch.

  25. Faith versus reason . You choose. What I find particularly amusing are those posters who compare atheism to a , belief system". Well that is just as silly as saying bald is a hair color. Atheism is the absence of belief in a mythical sky deity or deities. Atheist are prepared to embrace the supernatural provided someone somewhere provides some proof. Still waiting.

    "Reason is non-negotiable. Try to argue against it, or to exclude it from
    some realm of knowledge, and you've already lost the argument,
    because you're using reason to make your case. And no, this isn't having
    "faith" in reason (in the same way that some people have faith in
    miracles), because we don't "believe" in reason; we use reason."

    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

    • Gary? Atheism is a lack of any belief? Well then tell me what do you believe? Reason is non-negotiable?? LOL! Do you know how silly that sounds? So keep believing that theory Gary!

      • It's all about the proof, Rev.

        Got any?

      • Atheism is a lack of any belief in religion or deities.

        Rational people use reason….and no, facts aren't negotiable.

        • I agree, but this isn't meaningful. In order to make choices we do not only need facts, we also need preferences. Our preferences are not generated out of some rational process. I don't like Brussell sprouts. Is this rational or biological? Well I wish I liked them, as they are pretty good for me. When I make choices about what to eat, I implicitly account for my dislike (or possibly presumed dislike – maybe my sense of taste changed) of Brussell sprouts. So while facts are non-negotiable, preferences are. When we think of ourselves applying reason we tend to take our preferences as a given, without thinking of where they come from (and how they almost certainly impact our ability to use logic).

      • What theory what belief ? Did you read my post ? Your premise seems predicated that it is beyond comprehension that an individual could function without a belief in the supernatural. Logic and reason are much more satisfying than blindly accepting myths and fables . It is quite simple. You have absolutely no proof of what you advance and the burden of proof is upon you Rev.

  26. No surprise at all.

    Religious FAITH, by defnition, requires one to accept things without evidence. It's not a "skill" that bodes well for other topics.

    Once you've been trained in faith, then you'll likely suffer intellectually in every other area as well.

    And remember that most religious people are born into their faith. In other words it was never a belief they arrived at on their own – it was just something they inherited.

    • Jan, You have to have faith in what you believe too… None of it is fact.

      • The key here is evidence.

        There's a difference between having faith that something supernatural is true vs. not seeing enough evidence that the former is actually the case.

    • It's funny that people assume that having faith is about believing something without any proof, when there is a long history of people basing their faith on personal (or sometimes communal) religious experience. The fact that the experience is personal and not visible to all is irrelevant – it's a legitimate source of evidence for that person. And why shouldn't it be?

      If you're depressed, happy, etc., should you discount your own experience because we don't have any evidence beyond your firsthand experience of it to prove its existence? That might make sense to us (even though I'd argue that would be a strange thing to do), but surely you wouldn't buy into our stance on your internal state…?

      That's not to say that we should all believe in the religious experiences of others, rather that people often do base their beliefs on evidence. One of those sources is personal experience (others typically being scripture, tradition, authority, etc.).

      • Over the centuries people have thought they've seen fairies too.

    • Atheists are also engaged in faith. They have arrived at a definitive conclusion, even though they cannot prove it to be true. Only agnostics can claim to be engaged in something other than faith. However, I wouldn't hold that against atheists – faith is an absolutely valuable thing in life. Society is built, to some extent, upon faith in our fellow citizens, although in that instance we call it trust. Strong families and loving relationships, similarly, do not flow from reason. I know this because I have tried using game theory to inform my choices in relationships.

      Humans cannot function solely as rational empirical analysts. When people's ability to employ emotions are damaged (but not their analytical capabilities), in fact, they lose the ability to reason effectively. Our analytical minds are like a computer program – they are only as good as the data fed into them. We need emotional experiences and subjective feelings from those experiences, in order to form preferences.

      Lets say you are picking between two jobs. One offers more pay but less autonomy, while the other offers less pay but more autonomy. How do you make the tradeoff between the two? A purely rational person could tell you the pros and cons of both, but it cannot tell you why one value is inherently and objectively better than another.

  27. WOW! Well in this forum I may be stupid… However, I do know where I am going when this life is through… DO YOU?

    • send us a post card when you get there

    • Everyone knows. Six feet of dirt.

    • SYOTOC! :-)

  28. Before you leave a religion, you first question, then research, then check out other faiths that might appeal to you. Once you decide that they are all the same and operate as a corrupt corporations, you become a non believer. So of course you know more about your previous religion and all others, it is totally logical

    • Every religious tradition in the world is "the same and operate as a corrupt corporations"? You might not be as good at research as you think…

    • Yes, they all fleece the sheep….the wonder is that there are so many willing sheep.

  29. This is is trippy yo!

  30. Yes, never fight against facts. It ruins your argument RR.

  31. What is Pantheism? Conviction that there are multiple gods.
    What is Christianity? The process of being convinced that there is only one God.
    What is Atheism? The process of convincing oneself that there is no God.
    Therefore, I ask, "Who are we?" Answer: Not beings that imagine, not imaginative beings, but imagination being.

  32. Human history is littered with Gods that no one prays to any more – Ra, Thor, Zeus etc. Thousands of them!

    Most, if not all, religious believers today are more than willing to concede that all of those previous Gods were false – as are all the Gods of today that they don't personally pray to.

    But those same people are absolutely sure that THEIR god is true. Yup, all those thousands of old Gods are false, and the God(s) of other religions today are false too.

    But not their God. That one's real. No doubt about it.

    Not something I'd bet money on.

    • Your train of thought is not logical. Whether or not people were wrong in the past (which remains to be proven or disproven) about religion, does not mean that people are wrong about what they believe now.

      By your reasoning, the fact that science has been woefully wrong about things in the past (i.e. smoking is good for you, asthma is psychosomatic, etc. etc.) discredits anything a scientist might believe today, just by loose association of shared profession.

      I'm not saying that I believe in a monotheistic creator god, just that the tired line of reasoning that you and others here have presented here is flawed, and not a good reason to be an atheist. An agnostic, maybe, but not an atheist.

      • JoeC,

        There's a big difference between the track record of religion and that of science.

        Science has held incorrect positions in the past (and probably still does) but science has also gotten a lot right – so much in fact that science pretty much built the modern world.

        On the other hand, ask almost any religious person about past Gods and you'll find that they consider the failure rate thus far to be 100%.

        No Christian or Muslim would say that Zeus, Appolo or Thor were real. Nor would they agree that any God today other than their own is real.

        So there is plenty of reason to believe that science is right on a given topic – science has hundreds of years worth of inventions and dramatic improvements in human life under its belt. But there is NO reason to assume that any of today's Gods are any truer than the thousands of discarded Gods that came before them.

        At some point credibility has to be built.

        • Your argument utterly fails to justify the logical gap in your original argument. Your counter argument is essentially ad homonym (against religious people), and is therefore not a valid line of reasoning.

          Science's track record is actually pretty terrible. Having a bad track record is actually kind of built into the scientific method. Theories are disproven all the time. What scientists believe now will likely be almost completely replaced within a few generations.

          And assuming that someone is right simply because they are a scientist goes directly against the method that scientists claim to follow. That professional association makes someone right is a logical fallacy.

          And re: failure rates of religions: That's a pretty arbitrary and bad methodology for rating the track record of religion.

          First of all, proving the existence of a god or gods is not some objective way of measuring the success of a tradition. That's just arbitrary.

          Second, no one has disproven the existence of Zeus or anyone else. That's like saying if we all stopped believing in Jupiter that it would cease to exist.

          Third, there are billions of people around the world who worship the same deities that their traditions have for thousands of years. There are also traditions who believe in all sorts of deities, and therefore have no difficulty with accommodating the deities of other traditions into their own.

          I could go on, but I'm sure it's a waste of time. You are obviously a blind adherent of scientism, and just as blind and arrogant as the dogmatic religious followers you try to undermine. I suggest doing some self reflection and actual research on this.

      • "Your train of thought is not logical. Whether or not people were wrong in the past (which remains to be proven or disproven) about religion, does not mean that people are wrong about what they believe now. "

        are you serious, JoeC!??!? i mean, seriously!?!? WOW!!

        • Have you ever been wrong about anything in the past? You probably have been, lots of times. By your reasoning, that means that anything you say here is also wrong. I hope you agree that that's not a very good way to go about doing things.

          For all of the anti-religion people here's insistence that religious believers are illogical, they sure don't follow the most basic of debate rules: ad homonym attacks are not a valid argument.

          • r u saying that past beliefs in God were wrong and now they are right?! i have been wrong in the past and i am willing to accept that as a learning experience. you seem to forget that learning also involves analysis. you would rather just say that past beliefs are wrong without asking whether present could be wrong too. that is what i am pointing out to. unfortunately, you are not into real analysis, just what someone else has told you as "analysed."

            "For all of the anti-religion people here's insistence that religious believers are illogical, they sure don't follow the most basic of debate rules: ad homonym attacks are not a valid argument. " Convictions are bigger enemies of truth than lies. And sadly, the truth is not a valid argument for the likes of you. I rest my case. Cheers!!

  33. Basing on myself, there is no correlation between faithlessness and intelligence. The faithless and the faithfull have dumbness and intelligence in both divides a plenty.

    As for me , when I encounter something unthinkable, I do not bother stretching my mind connecting the unthinkables to make them thinkable. In short, I am a lazy thinker or political correctness aside – dumber than dumb. I actually take my hat off to those who have faith, it takes a lot of thinking and intelligence to make possibility out of impossibilities.

  34. If you actually look at the quiz, it asks questions about many different faiths. While one would expect religious people to know more about their own faith, it is not clear to me that we would expect them to know and more/less about OTHER religions. When you look at the breakdown by question (something the many news reports have not taken the time to do) you get a very different story.

    Lets take the trans-substantiation question as an example. Catholics, sure, did badly, with only 60% answering correctly. However, that was substantially better than any other group. Only 41% of Atheists got that one right (roughly in line with the general public).

    Alternately, lets take the Joseph Smith question. Atheists did well on them (possibly thanks to South Park), with 71% answering correctly. However, Mormons did a lot better than Atheists, with 93% getting that one correct.

    So what this quiz shows is that atheists have better general knowledge about different religions, but less specific knowledge about any given religion. Since atheists are more likely to be well-educated, young and urban (and thus exposed to multiple religions) we should hardly be surprised by these results. Of course it also gave Atheists the opportunity to act on one of their sacred commandments: thou shalt proclaim thine intelligence loudly.

  35. knowing as a reality based thought mode is not entirely about intelligence as anyone of a woman or sperm or test tube etc is born from. it derives from using the grey matter and the idea of ability to reason as a trademark to smarts as any skeptic can attest to…it is the realm of science that reveals the capabilities of humans…

    • Really? What novel capabilities of humans has science revealed? Have religions never revealed anything to us about what we are or could be?

      • "Have religions never revealed anything to us about what we are or could be?"

        Yes, among other things it have revealed our inner demons and our willingness to let them prevail. We have also learnt the various degrees of suffering we are capable of inflicting on ourselves. You would say that religion has contributed a lot of good stuff too, and I would agree, however, the negatives by far outweigh the positives as there are way more negatives and they are still fully evident in the present times. The positives are few and far apart, and mostly benefit the negatives! You will disagree with what I am saying, I know, but in order to understand what I am saying you need to be capable of objective analysis.

  36. Students of anthropology of religion will advise that we can identify about 10,000 religions that have been created over time by man. Most have claimed to be the right one and its adherents of course the chosen ones. All are based on myths and fables. Any thinking person is an atheist or at the very least a militant agnostic. With the rise of science and education there will be a marked decline in religion. This is why historically religion has tried to suppress science and knowledge, i.e Controversy over heliocentrism with the R C Church and intelligent design as espoused by the born again crowd. These are but a few of many examples of deliberate attacks on science and the scientific methods by religion.

    • Your post make no logical sense. The fact that there are a lot of religious traditions doesn't disprove the existence of something that we might loosely call a spiritual reality. Nor does it prove it's existence. Humans have been grossly wrong about the causes of all sorts of things, but that doesn't disprove the existence of, say, lightning, earthquakes, etc.

      And regarding the suppression of science by religion: you've cited the activities of ONE religion. No doubt there are others, but there are also many examples of religions embracing scientific discovery (though not buying into scientism, as previously defined in these comments).

      The Dalai Lama, for one, works with scientists all the time on the nature of the universe, the mind, and so forth. When it was proven to him that the world was floating in space, not as described in Buddhist scriptures, he said that's no problem, and that science was right.

      A bit more thought and research would do your understanding of anthropology and religion good.

  37. I'm very content with my life without a so called 'God'. Because I know he, it, or however it is presented to us as kids is NOT REAL. The problem with religion is that it uses fear as a way to scare people into believing in nonsense. Fear is a very powerful weapon when you want to control the masses. I think tonight I will believe in my refrigerator. I will pray to it with all my might that if the sun rises tomorrow morning then it is proof positive that my refrigerator must be an all powerful being because my wish came true. Think for yourself and enjoy the experience.

    • I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

      – Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear (From Frank Herbert's Dune)

  38. This article is technically true, but misleading . Atheists and Agnostics have more variety of knowledge, but the religious believers always know more about their religion, though not other religions.