Measuring "Religious Knowledge"

Remember my mild rant about the lack of critical thinking skills among students? It's not just students who are falling short in this area; some newspaper reporters appear to be challenged in this regard. Here's a quote from a story in the Los Angeles Times about the results of this survey (link to a PDF with the results of the complete survey; to take a shorter version online, visit this page) from The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:
If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term "blind faith."
That's pretty provocative...and inaccurate, given that the survey is as much about the cultural and political aspects of religion as the spiritual ones. Our former pastor, Dr. Jim Denison, does a good job of explaining why the survey doesn't measure what it purports to, and why analyses like those in the LA Times are misleading.

In an exchange on Facebook someone asked me how I would craft a survey to measure "religious knowledge." I said I haven't a clue, but I'm pretty sure there's no way to assess the results of the entire history of human beings searching for God. Further, I don't think there's anything to be gained by the attempt.

I do believe that people of faith should learn as much as they can about the history and tenets of that faith, and in an increasingly diverse society, understanding important aspects of other religions is also valuable. But for many of us, it's not about what you know, but Who you know. Being able to answer Bible "trivia" won't get you to Heaven, and having an intellectual grasp of the moral imperatives of the faith isn't important if you won't apply them in daily life.

1 Comment

I have heard from several sources over the years that Lucifer knows the Bible from cover to cover. However it is his nature and desire to ursurp the Almighty's power and defile his creation that separates him from the Kingdom of God.

So , sure there are plenty of folks out there who know about God's plan, the history, and the characters, however they lack the faith that is paramount in God's eyes.

Knowledge of one's faith is important, however it doesn't necessarily changes lives and leads to salvation. It is a personal confession of one's sins and accepting forgiveness from Christ that defines our faith.

Ask Christopher Hitchens. ;)

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on September 30, 2010 7:58 AM.

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