The story has been out there, but what the Hades:
Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.
On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith. Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.
“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew. — NY Times
This should surprise exactly nobody. Atheists aren’t unbelievers because they don’t know anything about religion, they’re atheists because they know a lot. The more one knows about religion, the easier it is to see what a fucking scam it is.
I speak as an atheist, of course, but for all that, I’m usually the one at the end of the night bellowing defenses of religious belief, and singing the praises of the faithful. Some of the finest people I’ve had the privilege to associate with have been devout believers, both secular and clergy. Just two weekends ago, at my cousin’s wedding, I sat beside an inspirational Catholic priest with whom I had a wonderful conversation about world affairs, ministering to returned American veterans, and the music of Johann Stamitz. (He was one of only 4 men at the affair without a necktie – the other three were myself, my brother, and my mentally disabled second cousin. All of us sat at the same table, too. Hmmm.)
But what one believes and one does occupy separate realms. As a pastor, he accepts the mystery of the rosaries and the transformation; I don’t. But he gets up before dawn every day and provides precious counsel to distressed young men and women who return from war with their heads up their asses and their lives torn to rags – if it’s his faith that gets him through this, why would I disdain his faith? He’s a better man than I.
Look around the globe when disaster strikes. The first on the scene are the churches, the religious orders, the missions. Is their faith a crock of shit that their own congregations can’t comprehend? Fine. Their work is needed, good, and a credit to the species. What have you done lately?
So, yeah, in the intellectual tussle between faith and reason, I wear an R when I go to war on the side of the academy, the ACLU, the scientists, and the unwashed freethinkers. But when there’s a soul to be soothed, I stand aside and let the faithful through. There’s the Truth, and then there’s what’s Important. Sometimes believers have a better perspective on which is which.
And then there’s John Entwistle.