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Biblical Literalists Know Less About Religion

While it’s fascinating that the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life’s recent Religious Knowledge Survey found that atheists know more about religion than religious believers do, equally interesting is the difference that the survey found between different sorts of Christians.

Christians who believe that the Bible is the literal truth delivered directly from their god got an average of 14.5 out of the survey’s 32 questions correct. Christians who believe that the Bible is delivered directly from their god, but not the literal truth, got an average of 16.3 questions correct. Christians who believe that the Bible is not literally true and is not delivered directly from their god did the best on the survey, getting an average of 18 questions correct.

The obvious question resulting from this pattern is this: Why don’t those Christians who believe that their Bible is the literal truth bother to educate themselves more about it? The less obvious answer to that question is this: Religion is much, much bigger than just Christianity. While the Pew Forum’s survey was biased in the number of questions it contained about Christianity, it did also contain questions about other religions. It’s possible that the biblical literalists know plenty about their own religious tradition, but nothing about other religions.

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