Questionable Motives

September 28, 2010

How much do you know about religion?

Filed under: Atheism,belief,Poll — tildeb @ 9:58 am

How do you compare with others? Take the quiz here. (Don’t be surprised if the server is too busy… it seems you’re not alone.)

Atheists are often accused of knowing too little about religion to be able to criticize it. That seems to be just another ill-informed conclusion thrown into public debate by the religious as if it were true. Apparently, it isn’t.   The latest from PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that atheists know more than believers, which raises the interesting question if in-depth knowledge about religion itself is the leading cause of  atheism.


  1. The third message from heaven…

    If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

    Comment by Patmos Pete — September 28, 2010 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

    • See what can happen if you forget to turn on your answering machine when you go out? You miss those crazy cold calls that can be so entertaining.

      Comment by tildeb — September 28, 2010 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  2. I never knew that the Jewish Sabbath was a Friday – so that’s no shopping on a Friday and a Sunday.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — September 28, 2010 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  3. But does it actually matter what people know about religion?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — September 28, 2010 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

    • I think it does, MUR. I think it matters a great deal not for any truth value in the specific religious beliefs but in understanding the source for many people’s moral positions, how cultural practices are sometimes informed and compete with non religious, how certain narratives and phrases are used in language and to what they refer, how to better understand historical influences to contextualize commentary, and so on. I think reading Shakespeare, for example, is just that much more difficult if one doesn’t have an understanding of some of the dialogue that refers to biblical themes, or grasp why certain stories were almost revolutionary in tackling religious expressions in behaviour and where those behaviours could lead. In these senses, I think comparative religion is a very valuable subject to study.

      If nothing else, studying comparative religions teaches one thing: all religions claim to be true but obviously they can’t all be so. This raises the all-important question: how can we determine which if any is the correct one? Once that question is appreciated for the revelation it is against belief alone, then the truth claims of each can be dissembled with an open mind.

      Comment by tildeb — September 28, 2010 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

  4. 14 out of 15 for me. I feel smug!

    Comment by tildeb — September 28, 2010 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  5. Having knowledge of religion certainly helps with understanding Shakespeare etc… but again I am not sure even Shakespeare is relevant in the modern world. There are other texts that are more relevant and easier to grasp in the teaching of english language and literature many of which do not require a deep understanding of religion, or the politics of the Tudors. I often question the wisdom of teaching Shakespeare – because it can have a negative affect on students, causing their eyes to glaze over – Shakespeare is just soap opera after all. There is a lot of snobby stuffy elitist crap that is packaged up with Shakespeare – and in all honesty I find a lot of his stuff deeply vapid.

    I also don’t think religion gives people their morals – I think this is an excuse by the sponsors of religion. I think people’s morals are nothing to do with religion at all, even if they think that they are, and I don’t think the comparing of religions shows people this either. People believe what they want to believe in spite of religion, not because of it – and even when you do point out the inaccuracies and contradictions in religious texts, they make up any excuse to give their belief validity. Giving people knowledge about religion on its own will not make them more honest and neither will it give them the critical thinking skills to debunk it.

    What I think you take for granted, is that your knowledge of religion is a side effect of having the ability to think critically. Most religious people, will just invent some obscure reasoning to justify why their religion is the right one at the expense of any common understanding of intellectual honesty or normal reasoning.

    I therefore think that religious texts are no more important than Harry Potter – they have no real value at all, albeit some culturally when framed within other literature.

    The statistics generated in the survey results show this – when looking at Jewish community – all of whom scored quite highly, and yet the Jewish community remain to be some of the most devoutly religious people on earth.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — September 29, 2010 @ 3:03 am | Reply

    • Shakespeare is just “soap opera”? Bite your mongrel cretinous tongue, you linguistic heathen!

      Your education is sorely lacking, MUR, if you equate the Bard’s contribution as vapid and stuffy elitist crap. There are not enough positive and glowing adjectives in the language he helped to make into the world’s common one to describe just how outstanding is his work. And so far I’m just talking about his sonnets!

      I must now go have a shower and attempt to wash off this libelous outrage you have committed here. I’m taking the computer screen with me!


      Comment by tildeb — September 29, 2010 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  6. LOL – “All that is gold does not glitter!”

    My father teaches Shakespeare – so I have my fill of sex, drugs, violence, jealousy, fairy magic, jokes I didn’t get that made me feel rather stupid and plays that could have finished hours ago… I had the honesty in class to say I didn’t like it, and could not understand what all the fuss was about. Call me simple, but I prefer more modern works, written in a language I can understand and comprehend, which get to the point before I fall asleep.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — September 30, 2010 @ 2:06 am | Reply

  7. I got 14 out of 15. (But I’ve been studying religion in my free time for two years now.)

    Comment by Natassia — October 7, 2010 @ 12:40 am | Reply

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