Sunday, October 03, 2010

Atheists Better at Religion

Here is a news item I read on Spiegel Online and translated for my own pleasure and thought others might be interested in it too.

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Non-believers Know Religions Best

Where was Christ born? What is the first book of the Bible called? People who do not believe in god are most likely to answer such questions. A survey in the US showed that atheists and agnostics knew all about religion.

Washington: According to a recent survey in the US, non-believers know the most about world religions. In a survey of the renowned opinion survey institute PEW about religious knowledge confessed atheists and agnostics the averaged best.

The researchers interviewed 3412 adults in the US about world religions. On an average, atheists could answer correctly 21 out of 32 questions about beliefs, history and representatives of world religions. Protestants knew, on an average 16 correct answers, Catholics only 14.7. Jews came up, on an average, with 20.5 and Mormons with 20.3 correct answers.

Even with questions about Christianity the non-believers averaged better than Catholics and Protestants. In this case, only the Mormons were ahead of agnostics and atheists.

Among the residents of the US, the majority of who identify themselves as Christians, was the lack of knowledge about their own religion clearly noticeable. Only 71 percent of the surveyed knew that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Only 63 percent were in a position to name Genesis as the first book of the bible.

If you are interested, you can see some of the questions of the survey here.

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Interestingly I, an atheist, answered 13 out of 15 questions right. 87% and I was rated to be at 93 percentile. I knew that I would be marked wrong on one answer but the official correct answer is disputable. A catholic colleague of mine answered 13 questions right too. So, it is neither here nor there!


  1. I got 11 right. So what's the score now, considering me being a non-believer.

  2. your quiz was good, though the results do not mean anything to me. i am exactly in the middle with seven right answers. better than my performance in the sunday evening quiz club - two answers out of three hundred questions!

  3. Ah Raghu, It only means that you do not stuff your brains with trivia (aka trash!). :-)

    Shruti, your score means that you and I together are pushing our average nearer the average of the larger population. You a non-believer? I am such a non-believer that I do not even believe that!! ;-)

    You may try becoming a member of this community:

    You will be in great company: Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennet, James Randi and, of course, yours truly.

  4. The website is interesting! I will revisit the site soon.

  5. To confuse issues, I scored 11. If you have read my blog about belief,
    you will realise I am neither atheist nor a believer - merely indecisive.

  6. 13 out of 15 too. Didn't know all those US questions. And hey, I'm a heathen!

  7. I scored 7. but I tell you if you conduct such a survey in India,I would certainly be in the top as against the believers.