Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quote of the Day: Dave Silverman, President of American Atheists

“I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people. Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.”
That's Dave Silverman, the president of the advocacy group American Atheists, quoted in the New York Times today.

Silverman was interviewed for an article about a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that polled 3,400 Americans about religious knowledge. Atheists and agnostics scored the best, beating all other religious groups. Mormons and Muslims were close behind, and Hispanic Catholics scored the worst.

Interestingly, most respondents had trouble with questions about religion in public schools. According to the Times, "fewer than one of four knew that a public school teacher is permitted 'to read from the Bible as an example of literature.' And only about one third knew that a public school teacher is permitted to offer a class comparing the world’s religions."

And there were other areas of notable confusion or outright stupidity. Half of Protestants didn't know Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Nearly half of Catholics didn't realize that they are actually consuming Christ's blood and flesh when taking communion. And 43% of Jews didn't know that the philosopher rabbi Maimonides was Jewish.

I took a shortened six-question version of the quiz on religion (via the Times), and I'm pleased to report a perfect score!

(When I tried to access the Pew Forum's website to look for the full questionnaire, I got an error message saying the server was too busy.)

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