Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Religious knowledge

Probably most of you had heard of a religious test where atheists and agnostics scored higher than those in religions. I am not sure what that means about me; but I only missed one. If I had been guessing, which I could have as that question was multiple choice, my 'educated' guess would have had them all. But then religion has always been of interest to me-- all religions.

Here's the test which Christian Science Monitor created:


I don't know if it's really about being smarter but rather how interested are we in what inspires and spiritually moves human beings.

14 comments:

wally said...

I missed one too. Like you I've done a lot of reading over the years so the test was not difficult. I'm not surprised that atheists scored higher because they are willing to read everything where most religious people, especially the fundamentalists will not accept any information that would challenge their own dogma or world view.

Paul said...

I'm a Christian and a voracious reader. I have studied all of the major religions and most of their holy books. I've also read atheist literature.I was a Leftist in my college days and fortunately saw the light later. If you are totally honest, you will realize that intellect does not belong to one group alone.

Ingineer66 said...

I am impressed, you guys did well. I missed 2. I had them narrowed down to 2 choices and picked wrong. Lots of Catholic questions and not very many Jewish ones, yet Jews scored well and Catholics scored the worst. I guess that is because at least 50% of US Catholics are "Buffet Catholics" and pick and choose which church teachings they want to follow.

james said...

JULIE SAID:

Got 25 answers right.

In Catholic parochial school, I was sometimes on the bad side of nuns and priests for asking too many questions. Is there a group called "Curious Catholics"? lol

TaraDharma said...

I took this test awhile back and missed 2. I think, by and large, that someone who is blindly devoted to their faith may not need to become familiar with other schools of thought - they have found their answer. I, however, am ever curious.

Celia said...

I don't really understand the fundamentalist refusal to use the intellect you were given to examine various belief systems. Ditto for various conservative groups. I missed two. I do attend church but I fall somewhere in the agnostic group.

Annotated Margins said...

I missed two... didn't think any religion except Buddhism actually believed in faith alone... and the only Johnathan Edwards I know is a folk singer.

Paul said...

I took the test and missed one question. It was interesting.

Alan G said...

I was completely intrigued by this report when I first read of its release. It was most interesting and informative for me. And even though I had no idea with regard to conclusions it had reached with regard to atheists and agnostics, that conclusion was indeed an epiphany for me.

I can’t really explain it but there was a sense of relief after reading the report and realizing I had been perhaps under some grievous misconception with regard to atheists and agnostics my entire adult life. An atheist wasn’t an idiot or some sort of uneducated doofus – he or she was an individual just like me who for the most part was simply searching for a palatable truth. To my own discredit (I refuse to use the word “ignorant” in the first person), I had never given atheists and agnostics credit for reaching what was apparently for them an educated decision, whether in the end right or wrong. The only burning question remaining (no Christian pun intended) of course is does the Pew report represent a percentage of the whole or simply the luck of the draw?

In the past I spent a lot of time studying the Bible and its history, the early church and its history, the books of the apocrypha and pseudepigraph, most of which are not included in the canon of the Christian bible….whose inclusive books themselves were extensively debated by the leaders of the early church before inclusion. I became totally engrossed in the Talmud even though I wasn’t Jewish. And during this time I was also teaching Sunday School and attended church almost every time the doors were open but at some point I realized that the majority of my Christian peers seemed little interested in nothing more than to be able to take some measure of confidence in their own personal salvation. Beyond that it was simply…..yada, yada, yada! There was no desire or passion that burned within them to learn more about those things they so vehemently professed.

And now after all those experiences I find myself perhaps catering more to the agnostic belief than one rooted substantially and solely in Christianity. I have always likened an agnostic to an individual who is out on the end of the diving board continually dipping his foot into the “atheist pool” checking to see if the temperature of the water was to their liking before diving in. I don’t see that ever happening but the pondering will surely continue until I can ponder no more.

PS – In case you’re wondering, I missed three questions. I suspect those misses leaned heavily in the direction of lack of knowledge with regard to other religions.

wally said...

I don’t think I could be an agnostic. It seems so casual. For me it would be like nonchalantly shrugging off the question. “Is there a God?” “Beats me, what’s for dinner?”
I’m not qualified to be an atheist. To make the statement ‘there is no god’ with any authority I would have to travel across the universe measuring and analyzing my way to certain knowledge. Most scientists admit that they have only scratched the surface of what can be known. So it would be arrogant of me to declare as non-existent something that may be beyond my ability to detect. What if there is a creator that stands apart from his/her creation and is independent of space and time? I no longer believe that the scriptures have been dictated to chosen humans and is without error, but I think they contain some truth whether it be the Bible or the Baghavad Gita. The Christian Bible says that God rewards those who diligently seek him. I’d like to believe that so I call myself a seeker.

Rain said...

That's an interesting take on the words, Wally. I don't see it the same though. To me an atheist knows. A believer knows. An agnostic is one, who might even be in a religion but does not 'know'. It's not for not caring either but for simply not being able to put together the known facts in such a way as to be sure and say they know-- either way. Some agnostics might not care and could be casual. Some might still be exploring but then some atheists and believers get set into something and they don't explore anything including their own beliefs. They are all just words that cover a wide variance of spiritual thinking. The people I know who call themselves agnostics don't claim they have no interest. they simply are not going to beat themselves over the head with not knowing and can live with it.

For me, I am a person who does believe there is something more. What i have given up on believing in totally is any religion being in contact with what it is. I do not believe any religion has the answer. Frankly, I think a lot of them have done horrible damage to mankind in their 'knowing' and desire for power. I don't label myself any of the terms as I don't have to. Some people who are in churches are there purely for the social aspect and I don't know that they even listen to the weekly sermons let alone do any spiritual thinking on their own. Some are there as an insurance policy (which they'd know if they read that Bible they say they believe in that that doesn't work well). You either believe or you do not and sitting there with the hope you can gain points probably won't get them where they are hoping even after death.

We had a lot of discussions on this this week-end as my granddaughter is being proselytized by a little friend in a very fundamentalist church; so it led to some great conversations on religion, science and faith.

wally said...

Rain, I confess I was being flippant about agnosticism. My thinking on religion parallels yours for the most part. I don't think God can be known from the human side of the equation and the world's religions are the result of humans making the effort to bridge the gap between creator and created. If we are to know God he/she will have to make the first move. I guess that makes me closer to being an agnostic than I realized.

Rain said...

Which in my opinion makes you a thinker, Wally. I do not believe we can 'know'. What we can do is operate on what we do know, live life as best we understand it, but the facts of what this is all about, I think only someone who does not think much about it would try to claim they 'know'. Some of the 'knowing' is wishful thinking.

Maybe a few people have had a direct encounter with god but most of us just go by our experiences and try to live with that. I feel I would go nuts trying to be certain, feeling I had to be 'certain' but it doesn't mean I don't try to figure it out now and again. And I would love to 'know'.

joared said...

I think it may simply indicate there's a lot of faith going on with a large portion of organized religions followers not checking much into all the other aspects of the group with which they've chosen to identify themselves.