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Atheists know more about religion than faithful

A US survey says that non-believers, on average, know more about the beliefs of different religions than their members.

Image: Rchard via Flickr

A NEW STUDY in the United States has revealed that people wanting to learn more about the concept of God are best off speaking to… atheists.

A study released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life dealing with the average American’s understanding of God and the fundamental tenets of religion showed that when 3,400 people were asked basic questions on religion and faith, athetists and agnostics tended to be emerge as better educated.

Reporting the study, the Los Angeles Times said the findings gave new meaning to the term “blind faith” – suggesting that those who investigated the nature of their faiths may find themselves venturing into disbelief.

The paper said that a majority of Protestants, for example, were unable to name Martin Luther as the father of the Reformation, while 40% of Catholics thought that the bread and wine consumed at communion actually became the body and blood of Jesus and were not meant as symbols.

Four out of five Catholics knew that Mother Teresa shared their faith, however, while seven in ten were able to correctly recount Moses as being the leader of the exodus from Egypt.

Only half of respondents were able to identify “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” as not being one of the Ten Commandments,

Jews and Mormons were ranked as those most knowledgeable about their own faiths, just below atheists and agnostics, though the survey sampled them in numbers small enough to be deemed statistically insignificant.

Alan Cooperman, who led the research, said atheists tended to be people who had given up their faith after a period of meditation upon it. ”These are people who thought a lot about religion… They’re not indifferent. They care about it,” he said.

By way of comparison, the survey also asked its respondents to answer some general knowledge questions; 4% of them said that horror writer Stephen King was the author of Moby Dick.

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Gavan Reilly

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