Do atheists know more about religion than the religious?

That’s what a Pew Research study of “religious knowledge” suggests:

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.

via U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

But look more closely.  The study also found that evangelicals and (again) Mormons know more about Christianity than atheists and other groups do.  Atheists do better when it comes to world religions.  But that shouldn’t be too surprising.

Here are some findings:

More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53%) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-ten Jews (43%) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.

In addition, fewer than half of Americans (47%) know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist. Fewer than four-in-ten (38%) correctly associate Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism. And only about a quarter of all Americans (27%) correctly answer that most people in Indonesia – the country with the world’s largest Muslim population – are Muslims.

Look more closely still: Here is the complete questionnaire. Is it really much of a religious knowledge test? It doesn’t ask anything about who Christians think Jesus is, for example. There is nothing on the Trinity. Or the atonement. Of course, people who don’t know the first book of the Bible (to take another example) are unlikely to know the more important teachings of Christianity. Still, a more substantive test would be more helpful. Do atheists know what Christians believe, beyond knowing the general facts about Christians and the history and politics of Christianity?

HT:  tODD

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • bunnycatch3r

    But look more closely. The study also found that evangelicals and (again) Mormons know more about Christianity than atheists and other groups do. Atheists do better when it comes to world religions. But that shouldn’t be too surprising.

    But what is surprising is that atheists/agnostics answered more questions correctly about the Christian religion than all Christians on average (6.7 vs 6.2) and every Christian subset except white evangelicals and Mormons.

    Is it really much of a religious knowledge test? It doesn’t ask anything about who Christians think Jesus is, for example. There is nothing on the Trinity. Or the atonement.

    The survey measures knowledge about religious history and law instead of faith and beliefs. The only question about belief dealt with the Catholic notion of transubstantiation.

  • bunnycatch3r

    But look more closely. The study also found that evangelicals and (again) Mormons know more about Christianity than atheists and other groups do. Atheists do better when it comes to world religions. But that shouldn’t be too surprising.

    But what is surprising is that atheists/agnostics answered more questions correctly about the Christian religion than all Christians on average (6.7 vs 6.2) and every Christian subset except white evangelicals and Mormons.

    Is it really much of a religious knowledge test? It doesn’t ask anything about who Christians think Jesus is, for example. There is nothing on the Trinity. Or the atonement.

    The survey measures knowledge about religious history and law instead of faith and beliefs. The only question about belief dealt with the Catholic notion of transubstantiation.

  • Winston Smith

    You will find some who had a thorough knowledge of the faith but chose not to believe it. As a student, Karl Marx wrote learned essays on Christian theology, but despite being able to parrot the words, he obviously did not take them to heart.

  • Winston Smith

    You will find some who had a thorough knowledge of the faith but chose not to believe it. As a student, Karl Marx wrote learned essays on Christian theology, but despite being able to parrot the words, he obviously did not take them to heart.

  • http://bethanylc.org Rev. C. D. Trouten

    Bunnycatch3r says, “The only question about belief dealt with the Catholic notion of transubstantiation.”

    I assume he [the old neutral "he", without reference to the sex of the writer, of which I am agnostic] means Q.44. However, this question doesn’t address transubstantiation. It addresses the real presence vs. symbolism. The choice of answers are: “The bread and wine [actually become / are symbols of] the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Given those choices, Lutherans, Orthodox, and Catholics would all answer “actually become”, if they confess in concord with their historic doctrine. Article X of the Apology uses such language. To guard against transubstantiation, the Lutherans compare the bread & wine becoming the Body & Blood to the Word becoming flesh (see FC, Solid Declaration VII:35-36); that is, the substance of both the earthly & heavenly components are preserved in a sacramental union. Similarly, both the human & divine natures are preserved in one Person, Christ.

  • http://bethanylc.org Rev. C. D. Trouten

    Bunnycatch3r says, “The only question about belief dealt with the Catholic notion of transubstantiation.”

    I assume he [the old neutral "he", without reference to the sex of the writer, of which I am agnostic] means Q.44. However, this question doesn’t address transubstantiation. It addresses the real presence vs. symbolism. The choice of answers are: “The bread and wine [actually become / are symbols of] the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Given those choices, Lutherans, Orthodox, and Catholics would all answer “actually become”, if they confess in concord with their historic doctrine. Article X of the Apology uses such language. To guard against transubstantiation, the Lutherans compare the bread & wine becoming the Body & Blood to the Word becoming flesh (see FC, Solid Declaration VII:35-36); that is, the substance of both the earthly & heavenly components are preserved in a sacramental union. Similarly, both the human & divine natures are preserved in one Person, Christ.

  • WebMonk

    Any way it’s sliced, it is a sad statement about Christians’ knowledge about religious beliefs.

  • WebMonk

    Any way it’s sliced, it is a sad statement about Christians’ knowledge about religious beliefs.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Rev. C. D. Trouten
    Yep, my fault. Sorry. The term “transubstantiation” was not used in that question.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Rev. C. D. Trouten
    Yep, my fault. Sorry. The term “transubstantiation” was not used in that question.

  • http://www.cumberlandisland.blogspot.com Adrian Keister

    Also interesting that in the survey, Jehovah’s Witnesses are listed under the category of Protestant denominations… (Question 20).

  • http://www.cumberlandisland.blogspot.com Adrian Keister

    Also interesting that in the survey, Jehovah’s Witnesses are listed under the category of Protestant denominations… (Question 20).

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I am going with Occam’s razor on this one. Overall atheists are smarter than average so it is no surprise they are better able to retain information on any given topic. Louis noted the same @113 on the moral blind spot thread.

    tODD, if you read this, could you leave a link to a page explaining how to link directly to a comment on another thread like you did the other day? Thanks.

    I will now descend into rank speculation. Since the simple are more likely to be poor and therefore receive charity, they may be more influenced by the religious people who help them and therefore less likely to self identify as atheists. Very smart people may be at risk for atheism because they are able to navigate in the world more easily and successfully. Confident (maybe sometimes even arrogant) as a result of their God given abilities, they don’t think they need God. I don’t mean to insult atheists, since the ones I know are really pretty nice and well behaved good citizens.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I am going with Occam’s razor on this one. Overall atheists are smarter than average so it is no surprise they are better able to retain information on any given topic. Louis noted the same @113 on the moral blind spot thread.

    tODD, if you read this, could you leave a link to a page explaining how to link directly to a comment on another thread like you did the other day? Thanks.

    I will now descend into rank speculation. Since the simple are more likely to be poor and therefore receive charity, they may be more influenced by the religious people who help them and therefore less likely to self identify as atheists. Very smart people may be at risk for atheism because they are able to navigate in the world more easily and successfully. Confident (maybe sometimes even arrogant) as a result of their God given abilities, they don’t think they need God. I don’t mean to insult atheists, since the ones I know are really pretty nice and well behaved good citizens.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    And now, you can take the survey yourself. The Pew Forum has made an online version of the questionnaire. [Here]

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    And now, you can take the survey yourself. The Pew Forum has made an online version of the questionnaire. [Here]

  • Porcell

    sg, go to this
    page to the section “HTML links” for a quick lesson on how to do links. You can practice by using a previous thread that is inactive on this blog.

  • Porcell

    sg, go to this
    page to the section “HTML links” for a quick lesson on how to do links. You can practice by using a previous thread that is inactive on this blog.

  • Joe

    15 out of 15 – do I get a prize??

  • Joe

    15 out of 15 – do I get a prize??

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey, thanks, Porcell.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey, thanks, Porcell.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yeah, it is sad. And I think that is all that can be said.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yeah, it is sad. And I think that is all that can be said.

  • DonS

    15/15. Not really a challenging exam.

    This test is probably more a history test than a religion test. And Americans are abominable at knowing and studying history. Two particular problems are: 1) schools refuse to require memorization of dates. Without imposing the discipline of a history timeline in your mind, you cannot possibly get a handle on organizing the vast scope of history. So, people don’t. 2) Public schools refuse to teach religion in the context of history, because of our societal fear of anything non-material. Accordingly, guess what? People don’t know it.

    It’s too bad, because as a result we have no concept of our place in history, or of the brevity of our own puny lifespans. And, we keep making the same mistakes over and over. Dumb.

  • DonS

    15/15. Not really a challenging exam.

    This test is probably more a history test than a religion test. And Americans are abominable at knowing and studying history. Two particular problems are: 1) schools refuse to require memorization of dates. Without imposing the discipline of a history timeline in your mind, you cannot possibly get a handle on organizing the vast scope of history. So, people don’t. 2) Public schools refuse to teach religion in the context of history, because of our societal fear of anything non-material. Accordingly, guess what? People don’t know it.

    It’s too bad, because as a result we have no concept of our place in history, or of the brevity of our own puny lifespans. And, we keep making the same mistakes over and over. Dumb.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@7), while Porcell has provided a helpful link, I was really hoping for a chance to be nice and helpful to you, so I will add a few notes.

    First, if you want to link to a comment on a page, start by clicking on the comment number (or, if you like, merely right click on that number and click “Copy link address” or something like that, depending on your browser). That link will look something like this:

    geneveith.com/do-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-the-religious/_6564/#comment-92667

    See that bit before the #? That’s just the URL for the particular Web page. But that bit after the # tells the browser to scroll down to “comment-92667″, which happens to be how it refers to your comment (@7) on this page. In this way, you can link to any comment on any page.

    Next, as Porcell’s link explains, you want to paste that link into the HTML for a link, so that

    One <a href=”http://www.geneveith.com/do-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-the-religious/_6564/#comment-92667″>Two</a> Three

    becomes

    One Two Three

    Another important thing to know is that the software on this blog will assume your comment is spam if it has too many links. I forget how many is too many, but 3 is definitely too many, and 1 is definitely okay. This is while I’ll typically just make one link, and then throw in a bunch of footnotes with URLs at the bottom.

    Here’s another complication I’ve observed, though. If you paste in the whole URL, the blog software will “helpfully” convert it into a link for you. Helpful, unless you want to paste in 3 or more URLs, at which point that’ll get you flagged as spam.

    In that case, here’s what to do. The blog software does not convert a URL into a link if you leave off the “http://” part. You also need to leave off the “www.” part, if there is one. Don’t worry — anyone who copies and pastes the URL without those bits into their browser will still find it works — try it with the (truncated) URL I showed you way at the top of this comment.

    Now here’s hoping this comment doesn’t get flagged as spam. Because that would be ironic.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@7), while Porcell has provided a helpful link, I was really hoping for a chance to be nice and helpful to you, so I will add a few notes.

    First, if you want to link to a comment on a page, start by clicking on the comment number (or, if you like, merely right click on that number and click “Copy link address” or something like that, depending on your browser). That link will look something like this:

    geneveith.com/do-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-the-religious/_6564/#comment-92667

    See that bit before the #? That’s just the URL for the particular Web page. But that bit after the # tells the browser to scroll down to “comment-92667″, which happens to be how it refers to your comment (@7) on this page. In this way, you can link to any comment on any page.

    Next, as Porcell’s link explains, you want to paste that link into the HTML for a link, so that

    One <a href=”http://www.geneveith.com/do-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-the-religious/_6564/#comment-92667″>Two</a> Three

    becomes

    One Two Three

    Another important thing to know is that the software on this blog will assume your comment is spam if it has too many links. I forget how many is too many, but 3 is definitely too many, and 1 is definitely okay. This is while I’ll typically just make one link, and then throw in a bunch of footnotes with URLs at the bottom.

    Here’s another complication I’ve observed, though. If you paste in the whole URL, the blog software will “helpfully” convert it into a link for you. Helpful, unless you want to paste in 3 or more URLs, at which point that’ll get you flagged as spam.

    In that case, here’s what to do. The blog software does not convert a URL into a link if you leave off the “http://” part. You also need to leave off the “www.” part, if there is one. Don’t worry — anyone who copies and pastes the URL without those bits into their browser will still find it works — try it with the (truncated) URL I showed you way at the top of this comment.

    Now here’s hoping this comment doesn’t get flagged as spam. Because that would be ironic.

  • Joanne

    Public universities often have a Religious Studies department. People take classes in these departments just because they are interested in religions and religious ideas. Go to any online listing of class offerings and you’ll get a good idea of what’s on offer this semester at your local U. The very popular Wiccan classes are often shared with the Women’s Studies department.

    I understant that this “survey” was put togethere by a professional association of University Religion Studies professors with the hope that the results will impress upon the nation the crying need for said professors and their non-religious approach to religion. Which is, if you’ll give it just two seconds of thought, the best way for non-believers to get religious information.

  • Joanne

    Public universities often have a Religious Studies department. People take classes in these departments just because they are interested in religions and religious ideas. Go to any online listing of class offerings and you’ll get a good idea of what’s on offer this semester at your local U. The very popular Wiccan classes are often shared with the Women’s Studies department.

    I understant that this “survey” was put togethere by a professional association of University Religion Studies professors with the hope that the results will impress upon the nation the crying need for said professors and their non-religious approach to religion. Which is, if you’ll give it just two seconds of thought, the best way for non-believers to get religious information.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    I’ll say the same thing here that I said in the Obama thread: it is possession of faith, not profession or intellectual knowledge of it, that is the instrument of our salvation. It does indeed, however, display a woeful amount of ignorance by many professing Christians about the faith we possess.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    I’ll say the same thing here that I said in the Obama thread: it is possession of faith, not profession or intellectual knowledge of it, that is the instrument of our salvation. It does indeed, however, display a woeful amount of ignorance by many professing Christians about the faith we possess.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s weird, but Pew says there are 32 knowledge questions (if you took the quiz with 15 questions, you’re missing out on a chunk of the survey questions), but I could only count 31. 22 of those dealt with religion, and 9 were factual questions about non-religious topics (I’m includuing the two evolution questions as non-religious).

    Anyhow, Bunnycatch3r said (@1), “The survey measures knowledge about religious history and law instead of faith and beliefs. The only question about belief dealt with the Catholic notion of transubstantiation.” But what about the questions on Ramadan, nirvana, Vishnu, and salvation through faith alone?

    I also find it interesting that Dons said (@13) that “Public schools refuse to teach religion in the context of history, because of our societal fear of anything non-material.” Because the survey itself covered that topic. 67% of respondents said that it was not permitted for “a public school teacher” to “read from the Bible as an example of literature”, “according to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.” Additionally, 51% said it was not permitted for a “public school teacher” to “offer a class comparing the worlds religions”. Don wants to blame the public schools, but it looks like the public itself is vastly unaware of what the law permits. I believe that would be the source of the problem.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s weird, but Pew says there are 32 knowledge questions (if you took the quiz with 15 questions, you’re missing out on a chunk of the survey questions), but I could only count 31. 22 of those dealt with religion, and 9 were factual questions about non-religious topics (I’m includuing the two evolution questions as non-religious).

    Anyhow, Bunnycatch3r said (@1), “The survey measures knowledge about religious history and law instead of faith and beliefs. The only question about belief dealt with the Catholic notion of transubstantiation.” But what about the questions on Ramadan, nirvana, Vishnu, and salvation through faith alone?

    I also find it interesting that Dons said (@13) that “Public schools refuse to teach religion in the context of history, because of our societal fear of anything non-material.” Because the survey itself covered that topic. 67% of respondents said that it was not permitted for “a public school teacher” to “read from the Bible as an example of literature”, “according to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.” Additionally, 51% said it was not permitted for a “public school teacher” to “offer a class comparing the worlds religions”. Don wants to blame the public schools, but it looks like the public itself is vastly unaware of what the law permits. I believe that would be the source of the problem.

  • Leif

    @13 DonS:

    Pretty much but a hefty dose of personal responsibility should be added to that indictment as well.

    @17 tODD

    So, if public schools are “unaware” of what the law permits we shouldn’t blame them for not actually knowing what they’re can and can’t do? Seriously? Ignorance of the law is no excuse for me and it shouldn’t be an excuse for them.

    —-

    Sadly, I think the blame doesn’t rest on public schools so much as Christians in general. Why aren’t they doing more to educate themselves and their children? Perhaps I fell in with the wrong crowd but growing up in both a church and a religious/private school I’ve learned more than I’d have liked about faiths/views other than my own. Meanwhile my friends who went to just church ended up rather ignorant of other faiths–as well as their own.

    Not saying that private schools are superior to public schools but, then again, I sort of am.

  • Leif

    @13 DonS:

    Pretty much but a hefty dose of personal responsibility should be added to that indictment as well.

    @17 tODD

    So, if public schools are “unaware” of what the law permits we shouldn’t blame them for not actually knowing what they’re can and can’t do? Seriously? Ignorance of the law is no excuse for me and it shouldn’t be an excuse for them.

    —-

    Sadly, I think the blame doesn’t rest on public schools so much as Christians in general. Why aren’t they doing more to educate themselves and their children? Perhaps I fell in with the wrong crowd but growing up in both a church and a religious/private school I’ve learned more than I’d have liked about faiths/views other than my own. Meanwhile my friends who went to just church ended up rather ignorant of other faiths–as well as their own.

    Not saying that private schools are superior to public schools but, then again, I sort of am.

  • Leif

    sigh: “what they’re can and can’t do” should read “what they can and can’t do”

  • Leif

    sigh: “what they’re can and can’t do” should read “what they can and can’t do”

  • DonS

    tODD & Leif:

    Just to clarify, it really wasn’t my intention to beat on the public schools (this time, anyway :-) ), though it may have looked that way, because of my inartful writing. My main point is that we have a societal prejudice against rote learning, but history is best learned, or at least organized, by rote. You have to have a framework in your head to properly understand history, and the only way you can get there, imo, is to have a timeline in mind. Otherwise, history is a jumble, and that is how most people view it. So, the poor outcome on this religious history test is, in part, due to the fact that people generally fare poorly in any history quiz, because they have not been properly taught. This fear of dates is a dominant one, certainly not limited to the public schools. Our own homeschool teaches history using a lot of rote, because of my view as expressed above. Then, later, when the kids are older, we introduce the more creative, interpretive aspects of a thorough history education.

    My secondary point is that this abysmal history education is worsened, at least in the public schools, because of our societal fear of accidentally establishing religion. Though the law does allow a cultural religious education, few schools do it because of an intimidating secularist lobby and because, over time, citizens have grown to misunderstand the law, as evidenced by this Pew survey. The blame for this is shared between public school teachers, administrators, secularist lobbyists, judges, citizens, and parents. I believe that cultural religious history should be taught, because religious practice has motivate much of world history. How can you understand history without learning about its religions? And yes, this includes not just Christianity, but Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc., in context as the history is taught.

  • DonS

    tODD & Leif:

    Just to clarify, it really wasn’t my intention to beat on the public schools (this time, anyway :-) ), though it may have looked that way, because of my inartful writing. My main point is that we have a societal prejudice against rote learning, but history is best learned, or at least organized, by rote. You have to have a framework in your head to properly understand history, and the only way you can get there, imo, is to have a timeline in mind. Otherwise, history is a jumble, and that is how most people view it. So, the poor outcome on this religious history test is, in part, due to the fact that people generally fare poorly in any history quiz, because they have not been properly taught. This fear of dates is a dominant one, certainly not limited to the public schools. Our own homeschool teaches history using a lot of rote, because of my view as expressed above. Then, later, when the kids are older, we introduce the more creative, interpretive aspects of a thorough history education.

    My secondary point is that this abysmal history education is worsened, at least in the public schools, because of our societal fear of accidentally establishing religion. Though the law does allow a cultural religious education, few schools do it because of an intimidating secularist lobby and because, over time, citizens have grown to misunderstand the law, as evidenced by this Pew survey. The blame for this is shared between public school teachers, administrators, secularist lobbyists, judges, citizens, and parents. I believe that cultural religious history should be taught, because religious practice has motivate much of world history. How can you understand history without learning about its religions? And yes, this includes not just Christianity, but Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc., in context as the history is taught.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Leif (@18), my point is that merely blaming the schools for something that a whopping two-thirds of our country gets wrong seems to miss the point.

    Think about it. If I can assume for a moment that the 67% that believed it is not permitted for a public school teacher to “read from the Bible as an example of literature” pretty much applies across the board, then, yes, 67% of teachers out there will refuse to teach about religion in class because they are misinformed. And even if they wanted to, 67% of public school administrators would not allow them to because they are misinformed.

    And, yes, I certainly hope (and suspect) that school teachers and administrators have more reason to get that particular question right. But! Even if everyone in the school wants to teach a comparative religion class or quote from the Bible as literature, two-thirds of the people in the community, two-thirds of the parents would believe it was not permitted according to the Constitution. Now, even if we assume that most of those people are Christians who would support such things, the fact remains that if a vocal minority opposed the school for doing so, claiming that such classes or readings were unconstitutional, most in the community would not have the knowledge to oppose that minority, instead believing them to be correct. And all my experience tells me that public school administrators really do not court public opposition and would rather be as uncontroversial as possible.

    So, in summary, to blame this, as Don does, on a “societal fear of anything non-material” does seem to miss the vast amount of ignorance out there on the topic. I am not excusing that ignorance. I am suggesting that it is a likely explanation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Leif (@18), my point is that merely blaming the schools for something that a whopping two-thirds of our country gets wrong seems to miss the point.

    Think about it. If I can assume for a moment that the 67% that believed it is not permitted for a public school teacher to “read from the Bible as an example of literature” pretty much applies across the board, then, yes, 67% of teachers out there will refuse to teach about religion in class because they are misinformed. And even if they wanted to, 67% of public school administrators would not allow them to because they are misinformed.

    And, yes, I certainly hope (and suspect) that school teachers and administrators have more reason to get that particular question right. But! Even if everyone in the school wants to teach a comparative religion class or quote from the Bible as literature, two-thirds of the people in the community, two-thirds of the parents would believe it was not permitted according to the Constitution. Now, even if we assume that most of those people are Christians who would support such things, the fact remains that if a vocal minority opposed the school for doing so, claiming that such classes or readings were unconstitutional, most in the community would not have the knowledge to oppose that minority, instead believing them to be correct. And all my experience tells me that public school administrators really do not court public opposition and would rather be as uncontroversial as possible.

    So, in summary, to blame this, as Don does, on a “societal fear of anything non-material” does seem to miss the vast amount of ignorance out there on the topic. I am not excusing that ignorance. I am suggesting that it is a likely explanation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ah, well, Don wrote his thing (@20) while I was writing mine (@21), and it would seem that we are in agreement on the issue. So that’s nice.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ah, well, Don wrote his thing (@20) while I was writing mine (@21), and it would seem that we are in agreement on the issue. So that’s nice.

  • Leif

    @21

    I have nothing to really add because for the most part I agree, however, I’d love to see a more detailed breakdown of who believed what (ie. what were the occupations of those who believed one way or another) since that can greatly affect who does what with which knowledge.

    The sadder part is not only the weak showing by folks of faith but how many people knew the negatives vs the positives in the society/religious section. Of course, that may speak to how many want the freedom to do whatever they want and where there’s “less freedom” they get riled up and knowledgeable.

  • Leif

    @21

    I have nothing to really add because for the most part I agree, however, I’d love to see a more detailed breakdown of who believed what (ie. what were the occupations of those who believed one way or another) since that can greatly affect who does what with which knowledge.

    The sadder part is not only the weak showing by folks of faith but how many people knew the negatives vs the positives in the society/religious section. Of course, that may speak to how many want the freedom to do whatever they want and where there’s “less freedom” they get riled up and knowledgeable.

  • Joanne

    Ah, church history, as if any two churches would teach that the same way! From the Orthodox Christians we’d be talking about a long list of church councils, emperors, and patriarchs. From the Roman Catholic Christians you’d get a long list of popes and saints. Protestants would list Bible translations and schisms. Major differences in focus and interpretation.

    Reading tomes of hagiagraphy has never been a favorite of mine, especially the grusome details of physical persecution leading some to beatification, such as cheek branding and tendon cutting. Two Catholic friends just happen to be taking a church history class at their local parish now and that’s what they’re studying this week. I say, anyone expecting the Spanish Inquisition?

  • Joanne

    Ah, church history, as if any two churches would teach that the same way! From the Orthodox Christians we’d be talking about a long list of church councils, emperors, and patriarchs. From the Roman Catholic Christians you’d get a long list of popes and saints. Protestants would list Bible translations and schisms. Major differences in focus and interpretation.

    Reading tomes of hagiagraphy has never been a favorite of mine, especially the grusome details of physical persecution leading some to beatification, such as cheek branding and tendon cutting. Two Catholic friends just happen to be taking a church history class at their local parish now and that’s what they’re studying this week. I say, anyone expecting the Spanish Inquisition?


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