How well do you know religion?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by vince, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. vince

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    A new poll of Americans has found that the majority of people have some serious gaps in their knowledge of religion. Interestingly, but unsurprisingly to me, the survey found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge -- so close as to be statistically tied.

    45 percent of Catholics did not know that the church teaches that consecrated bread and wine is the actual body and blood of Jesus. They thought the communion elements were symbols.

    Do only Protestants, not Catholics, traditionally teach that salvation comes through faith alone? Only 16 percent of people surveyed correctly answered yes.

    Only 46 percent chose Martin Luther as the dissident whose writings and actions inspired the Reformation.

    On the finding that atheists and agnostics are likely to know more about religion than believers, Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, commented that. “I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “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.”

    "One finding that may grab the attention of policy makers is that most Americans wrongly believe that anything having to do with religion is prohibited in public schools.

    An overwhelming 89 percent of respondents, asked whether public school teachers are permitted to lead a class in prayer, correctly answered no.

    But 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.

    The survey’s authors concluded that there was “widespread confusion” about “the line between teaching and preaching.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html

    Why do you think a people who are by most reports, quite religious, are so uninformed about the dogma and history of their own (and other's) religions?

    Or, when it comes to religion, are belief and knowledge mutually exclusive concepts for most people? Is one more likely to be a non-believer if they have greater knowledge of the teachings religious institutions?

    Do you think that we'd find similar results if the same poll was conducted in other countries?

    Why are Jews and Mormons better informed than members of other denominations?
     
  2. ManlyBanisters

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    Converts tend to be more knowledgeable about both their former religion (or theological stance, to include atheism and agnosticism) and their adopted religion or theological stance than those who are born into a faith or theological stance and never question it.

    In the last 50 - 100 years there have been more converts to atheism / agnosticism in the Western world. That would explain the findings, at least to an extent.

    Of course that isn't to say that people who are born into a faith and stick with it are intrinsically ignorant of their own faith and others - of course they aren't - many people question their faith (or lack of it) and come to the conclusion they were in the right place to start with.

    It's the people who never question at all that are most likely to be ignorant.
     
  3. nudeyorker

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    Interesting thread, the subject was on CNN.com this morning too.
    When I was in school a friend of mine who is catholic was doing a research paper on various religions so I went along for the ride when I was available. A friend of mine has a daughter who is doing similar research for a school project and is specifically researching Judaism (which I am helping with at my Synagogue with the help of our Rabbi) and Islamic beliefs with the help of her fathers business partner and Buddhism with her grandfathers help. For me it has been interesting being along for the ride on this as well notably because there are some very interesting common threads in all three. (Which is the focus of her report)
     
  4. Calboner

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    Their ignorance of the religions of others is hardly surprising, especially if you are talking about people whose daily lives rarely bring them into conversation with persons of religious affiliations different from their own. Their ignorance of their own religion requires some explanation. I expect that it reflects a deficiency of education overall, not just in religious matters. That is, strongly religious people who are comparatively ignorant of their own religion (i.e., ignorant in comparison with the general population) are probably also comparatively ignorant of history, science, geography, civics, and all other secular subjects.
    They may not be mutually exclusive concepts but they certainly tend to be mutually conflicting facts. The question that remains is, what causal relation obtains between the two? Does knowledge of religions make people less receptive to religious beliefs? Or does a lack of susceptibility to religious beliefs make people better able to acquire knowledge of religions?
    In the case of Jews, it is most likely a matter of acquainting yourself with the religious views prevalent among the people among whom you live--that is, for the greater part of the population of American Jews. On the other hand, if you took a survey among Jews of the black-hat ultra-Orthodox type, who tend to lead a segregated life, I would expect that you would find much less knowledge of Christianity. In the case of Mormons, I expect that being educated in Mormonism necessarily involves being educated in the parent religion.
     
  5. alx

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    I got my highest grade in religious studies (A*) I put this down to the fact that i had the hottest teacher. can't remember any of it, apart from the breasts that is.
     
  6. Hoss

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    I am familiar with religion from both personal and text book approach. Raised in quasi-religious home, I attended a Catholic university (I'm not Catholic) studied theology and had Comparative Religion (earned an A, the sole student in that class to do so).

    What I departed with (through both venues), was the feeling that what drives many religions is desire to be supreme leaders, better than the rest, and of course money. This isn't true of all the divinity, many truly are practicing a faith and attempting to teach. Bringing the ideas, beliefs, practices and glue which binds the faith is many times secondary. Perhaps this harkens back in time to when a person (in general) stayed with whichever religion they'd been born into at least until marriage and even marriage was perceived as purer, more blessed if marrying a person of the same faith (think how new a concept interfaith marriage as an ordinary occurrence is).

    There are reasons why people of one faith are better informed than others. Take Judaism as an example. There is adherence to ritual, even at home, wiith detailed explanation as to the meaning and hour upon hour in study leading to the bar mitzvah/bat mitzvah. Then again, maybe it's the Jewish guilt trip that helps them learn.

    Religion itself as defined in present day terminology is relatively new, and new sects are being created even as we live. Maybe 1 of these will be the next big thing.
     
  7. Drifterwood

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    Dare I say that many religious people aren't actually that interested, and add to this the likeliehood that what they are taught is rather one sided. With the exception of Judaism, the other Abrahamic religions have a history of working within ignorant congregations. I am not sure that they have upped their game, and remain rather aloof in Ivory Towers and somewhat arrogant.

    I was thinking of starting a thread regarding a revision of the Christian Canon to reconsider those gospels that were discarded and branded heretical in the 4thC, and have been rediscovered at Nag Hammadi. I imagine that most Christians aren't even aware of the issues and arguments that occured to create "The Word of God".

    If anyone is interested in this subject, Religious History, I would recommend Karen Armstrong's books, The History of God and The Great Transformation.
     
  8. curioustitan

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    I somewhat agree with this. I've often found that 'churches', 'cathedrals' and just general gathering points or 'houses of God' for the 'religious' (as opposed to the spiritual) are filled with the (often but not always) easily duped and misguided people of a particular faith. I believe that many of them are sincere in their personal quest to follow and learn about their 'tennet of faith' but rely too much on the word or guidance of religious figureheads and less on their own ability to read, research and discern texts from their branch of faith.
    Unfortunately, many of these leaders are duplicitous and twist certain facts to their own personal end (and gain)..... more often than not misleading an all too trusting congregation more than willing to swallow whatever 'ramblings' are ministered from an altar, or pulpit (just before they hand over various sums of money that God can put into his safety deposit box for a rainy day)
    Umm... i think i digressed slightly.... back to the point.... followers of particular religions are more often than not, only receiving the information they are privy to from (falsely infallible) religious teachers as opposed to enriching their knowledge with time taken to read and or study their faith.
     
  9. Bbucko

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    At the risk of being misinterpreted, I'm gonna say that one of the cornerstones of Christian faith as it's practiced in the US is to not ask too many questions, and to accept whatever answers one does get on "blind faith". That is not to say that religiosity and intellectualism are automatically and diametrically opposed concepts, just that the majority of the pious are taught early on not to question the tenets of their chosen faith too closely.

    Since the vast majority of Christian sects are exclusionary (only they have the keys to Heaven), it's completely unsurprising that they are ignorant of the beliefs of others: why study heresy?

    This resistance to asking questions is also at the root of the deeply anti-science mindset so pervasive here among the religious: Intelligent Design is, after all, taught alongside evolution in many public classrooms across the country, proscriptions on religious proselytizing notwithstanding. But there's a deep distrust of education in general and intellectualism in particular that is part of our country's less-attractive nature :wink:

    This anti-intellectualism does not extend to Jews: more likely the opposite. The fact that Jews would have a broader knowledge base about everything does not surprise me at all. And though I'm speaking from hearsay rather than experience, I believe that Mormons engage in much more rigorous religious education than the usual Sunday School or catechism provided to your average Protestant or Catholic.

    I can remember when prayers were led every morning in public school in Derry, NH, where my family lived in the mid/late-60s. As I was raise a good little Episcopalian, I was baffled by the excision of the words "for thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever" from the end of the Lord's Prayer, and how much teasing I'd get when saying it. It even confused my teacher, who thought that I'd made some odd, cosmic error (evidently she was a Congregationalist :redface:). After being corrected, I would mouth it silently, as even to a first-grader, an incomplete prayer seemed somehow wrong. I don't recall anything like a morning prayer after first (or maybe second) grade, unless you want to count the Pledge of Allegiance :cool:

    In my very run-of-the-mill, working class High School in Weymouth, MA there was an elective class in comparative religions offered, but I never took it. But we also had three-year courses in Russian and Chinese, so maybe we were something exceptional.
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    Which "religions" teach that sex is a transcendental way to comprehending human spirituality?
     
  11. vince

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    The Holy Rollers?
     
  12. curioustitan

    curioustitan Member

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    Branch Davidians....just before offering you an aphrodisiacal drink ;)

    "i love sam_solo26"......and would love to transcend with him.
     
  13. vince

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    The obvious answer is Buddhism and Hinduism. But I believe the Torah teaches (commands?) that a husband must sexually satisfy his wife (above and beyond the commandment of procreation). According to the Oral Tradition :wink:, the union of husband and wife is the closest that human beings can come to union with God in this world. It is the “holy of holies.”
     
  14. Calboner

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    Uh huh huh, he said "hole."
     
  15. curioustitan

    curioustitan Member

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    Considering the context of this thread, do you think it would ever-so-slightly-blasphemous for me to really just go wild with that 'holy of holies' comment.........:tongue: (I probably shouldn't go there)
     
  16. vince

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    Yeah, why not? 75% of our members with IQs greater than one hundred have already posted in this thread; so I say go for it. :wink:
     
  17. Calboner

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    Proof:
     
  18. curioustitan

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    Meeeooouwww!!!!!

    LOL!!!!
     
  19. Drifterwood

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    I'm not sure about Buddhism, it's more of a solo effort, but those Thai Buddhists certainly love their Tantra. The Kama Sutra, Yoga of Luuuurrrv, beloved of Hindus and repeated by Daoists.

    Judaism (parts of it), yes.

    Islam, well you may be surprised that the Hadith advises men on foreplay and the importance of the wife reaching orgasm first.

    Polytheists - certainly, bring back the temple sacred sex.

    Pagans anyone?

    I don't know about Sikhism officially, but they are a randy lot.

    Pauline Christians - NO. Sorry, if you are a Pauline Christian, you have to live your life in Christ, and Paul's Christ was not expressing himself with Magdalena, no no no, no he wasn't. The flesh is foul and full of original sin. The body and soul are separate.

    That is the basic distinction on attitude I think. Can you have the Yin & Yang of body and soul, or shall the two be forever separate?
     
    #19 Drifterwood, Sep 30, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
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