An entertaining Pew survey showing that atheists and agnostics are better informed about religion than their theistic counterparts has raised a few eyebrows. I’m not convinced it’s such a big deal. As Daniel Larison records, there’s this detail:
Data from the survey indicate that educational attainment – how much schooling an individual has completed – is the single best predictor of religious knowledge. College graduates get nearly eight more questions right on average than do people with a high school education or less.
Fair enough, but then there’s also this:
…Atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.
With complete absence of modesty I can reveal that I scored 100% on this test.
Again, most satisfactory.
Superficially, my result may appear to be a triumph for the agnostic/completely indifferent/Church of England subset of the population but in reality it’s just a reflection of a very traditional (and, I suspect, largely vanished type of) English education. This involved a decade or so’s worth of daily (or twice daily) attendance at chapel and the inclusion of “scripture” as a regular part of the schoolroom syllabus. Spiritual speculation, the supernatural, “enthusiasm”, meaning-of-life chatter and all the other clutter were kept to a bearable minimum. The gap (such as it was) was filled by rousing Victorian hymns, amiably absurd (and reassuringly traditional) ritual and, of course, a study of religious texts–more Joe Friday than Good Friday–that has proved an invaluable historical and cultural resource ever since. That’s the way to go, I reckon.
After all, who can argue with 100%?