Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The sleepwalking faithful

For most of the last 30 years, I’ve worked under the assumption that most Christians do not know their faith. I base this on my personal observations. There are two types of Christians – those who are on fire for the lord, and those who sleepwalk. Those on fire for the lord, like my fundie cousin Trinity or my pal and intellectual Christian Brad, they know their bible and theology but tend to subdivide into two camps, fundies and intellectuals. The fundies may know the bible and theology, but they are incapable of rational communication. The intellectuals on the other hand, give me a challenge. They often know the bible and theology much better than me.

Sleepwalkers are the majority of the Christians I meet. I figure it is about a 500 to 1 ratio. That is to say, there are 500 sleepwalkers to every 1 Christian who is on fire for the lord. Sleepwalkers are everywhere and know almost nothing about their faith. Unfortunately, these are most of the Christians I meet. If you mention Martin Luther, they respond that they are not Lutherans (and I do a facepalm). There is nothing wrong with sleepwalkers, they are the sheep in sheeple and pay the bills.

There is one exception to my general rule, Mormons. The Mormons I know are knowledgeable about their faith, Christianity and theology. It’s rare to meet one who is a sleepwalker unless they are new converts. I think it comes from the mandatory education they get as children. Most of my Mormon friends when to Mormon school before public school and they tend to know their way around the bible at a much higher level than their Christian counterparts but not as well as those who are on fire for the lord. That’s why fundie versus Mormon battles are epic fun to watch.

A new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge and found result similar to my practical experience. I did not realize my fellow Atheists were so knowledgeable.

Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.

But why atheists?

Greg Smith, a senior researcher with the Pew Forum, suspects that atheists may have scored higher because they were more likely to have been raised in a faith and made a conscious, informed decision about their belief.

I'll need to think about that.
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Anonymous said...

yes, I agree. If you believe in something since when you were born.... and then growing you start to get curious... and start to talk to people... and to read books etc... then you will become more knowledgeable that some one else that just accepts without questioning...

Buffy said...

Many religious people know what they're spoon-fed in church/Sunday School and nothing more. In some cases they're explicitly told not to explore further, and even to not read more of the Bible than what the clergy reads in church (or what they review in weekly Bible study). My wife recalls being frequently admonished in Catholic school to never read the Bible outside of what the nuns or priests assigned. Naturally at some point she did and that's how she came to realize it was all BS.

When I was attending church regularly I didn't pay much attention to it the rest of the week. But when I came to the point that I couldn't find a church that I liked and went on my own I began reading the Bible and "inspirational" books very intently--typically for hours a day. That ended up being my downfall eventually because I too discovered it was all BS.

As to the Mormons, they are drilled very heavily on their dogma. But the rank and file Morg only know what their overlords want them to know. They know the milk, and they know what they're supposed to tell the public, but as to the meat and all of the secret stuff....that's a completely different story. Mormons are trained to deny, and even lie, to promote and defend their religion. (Google "Lying for the Lord".) Essentially, what you're getting from any Mormon is the propaganda LDSinc wants you to hear, nothing more.

Pay a visit to sites like Mormoncurtain.com or exmormon.org and you'll get a real education in Mormonism.

Rex said...

I know that this is a gross oversimplification, but I know that some of the correlation between atheism and religious knowledge is that atheists have studied many religions at length and found them all wanting.

I also think that many people who become atheists start out looking for a higher truth than what they are told from the pulpit every week. They seek answers about what the real truth is, and their local clergy cannot provide it. They learn a great deal about the "meaning" and the "truth" of other religions, before deciding that they are ALL false, and that they are on their own for meaning and morality and truth.

I like to say that the more one knows about all religions, the more likely one is to be an atheist!

Tonjia Rolan said...

Knowledge is not necessarily understanding. To the Jews who knew every jot and tittle of the law of Moses, Jesus repeatedly said, you have erred because you have not understood scripture.

Atheists and agnostics typically DO know more about religion than other people I have met.

Mormons know the scripture drills, but not the meanings.