- Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.
- Forty-three percent of Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the foremost rabbinical authorities and philosophers, was Jewish.
I had somehow missed the news, even though the survey had apparently been very widely reported.
My friend Ken alerted me by email:
The article contains a memorable observation from the 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.”As qualified, Ken's conclusion doesn't seem to be a non sequitur (in the original, logical way that Aristotle and I use the term). Christians, among the groups identified by the study, might indeed be the most ignorant about religion. [Note that as Goodstein's article points out, "There were not enough Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu respondents to say how those groups ranked."]
Some of the stats in it are jaw-droppers. For example: "53% of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation."
[Given the religious views that predominate in the Western world and the fact that I've met a great many ignorant Christians,] I must conclude that no one is more ignorant about religion than a Christian.
The alleged superiority of atheists' (and agnostics') knowledge of religion might have been involved in philosopher Daniel C. Dennett's suggesting the term "bright" for atheists1, even though he claims that he didn't intend it that way, any more than "gay" for homosexuals is meant to imply that homosexuals are less morose than other people.
- "In Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon he admits to being 'a bright,' and defends the term." –Wikipedia