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Pew Religion Survey

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

This Pew Religion Survey is quite interesting, and worth taking if you are not feeling sufficiently smug today. There are widespread media reports about how this reveals that atheists know more about religion than botherers of god. How is this news? I got 14 out of 15 by the way.

Catholics do notably worse than Protestants, which is not surprising when you consider the biblical slant of the questions. Vaticanland has never been big on talking up the bible. Mormons score highly for the obvious reasons that the only people that would admit to being Mormon are, by default and definition, religious fanatics.

UPDATE: Another reason for good showing by members of the Church of Latter Day Saints occurred to me. One of the 15 questions in the survey was explicitly about Joseph Smith, the deluded illiterate responsible for the epic silliness of the Mormon faith. This gives members of that particular sect an obvious head-start, since Smith is far, far less likely to known by non-Mormons. Some will rebut this by saying that there were questions about mainstream Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the survey that were similarly helpful to members of those respective factions. This doesn’t stack up for me. While all religious belief is absurd, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are at least well-known. Questions about the big three monotheistic religions fall under the heading of “general knowledge”, and this is evidenced by the fact that the dogma-free — atheists and agnostics — scored better than Christians, Muslims or Jews. Only 47 percent of respondents to the Pew Survey knew that Smith was Mormon — compared to, let me guess, 100 percent of Mormons — this gives them a small but significant advantage when the survey consisted of only 15 questions.

Why do I care so much? Mainly because I resent the proximity in a knowledge-based survey between non-believers and believers of any stripe — and none more so than Mormons, a group I have made a hobby of mocking since they tried to convert me in Japan in 1987.

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