Thanks to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religious & Public Life, we can now claim that not only are intelligent people less likely to believe in god, but those unbelievers also know more about religion than religious people. As if American atheists needed even bigger egos (simmer down, people!).
Two reasons for this are stated in the article:
American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.
“These are people who thought a lot about religion,” he said. “They’re not indifferent. They care about it.”
Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well educated, and the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best educated. However, it said that atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.
Another is that religious followers are often so focused on their own beliefs that they do not research, think about, or fully understand other religions. This doesn’t go for everyone (obviously this study doesn’t prove that), but it would make sense that if someone believes their beliefs are right and perfect, that it wouldn’t matter as much what the “other people” believe.
One thing this study and the publicity of it might do is help believers realize that many atheists and agnostics are not like ignorant children who haven’t yet heard the “good news.” We’ve heard it, we’ve thought hard about it, and we’ve even believed it for a time, and yet we still reject it.
The amusing part of the article to me is that oftentimes people involved in a specific denomination of Christianity don’t even understand that denomination’s theology. Such as:
A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church’s central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.
I feel a little sorry for the ministers. Sometimes all you can do is sigh…