By now, you’ve probably heard about the Pew report on Americans and religious knowledge. A lot of atheists have been chortling about how well they done, compared to believers, and have offered explanations like Amanda’s:
This, of course, was absolutely no surprise to the loose online atheist community. I took abbreviated version of the test, and wasn’t particularly surprised that I got 15 out of 15 questions right. Many, maybe most, atheists that I know came to atheism because they learned so much about religion, enough that the logical inconsistencies and overt wish fulfillment aspects of it made it impossible to take it seriously.They’re often people who are inclined to pay close attention to the content of things instead of just the social context—the kind of people who, when sitting in church, actually think about the texts being presented and not so much about the role the church plays in their social life and self-identity. Thus, it’s easy to ask questions, and once that starts happening, atheism is right around the corner.
There is, however, another group that did as well as atheists (hint: the Mad Biologist also scored 15/15):
That’s because we’re fucking smart.
It’s pretty simple–we’re a minority, and as a minority, we have to know about the culture that surrounds us, whereas many people have no experience whatsoever with Judaism (or Jews–watching Seinfeld does not count*). When we also factor in the higher-than-average educational attainment, along with most Jews living in urban or urban-linked suburbs (and thus having exposure to other religions) it all falls into place.
I’m not trying to convert anyone here, but my problem with the atheist arguments against religion is that most atheists seem to understand religion through their own lens. That is, they decided to be atheists because religions are logical inconsistent. But, as I’ve argued before, religious beliefs and theology are only one part of religion, and, in practice, often a very small part. For many, their religion is identity. That’s the nut atheists have to crack.
Or maybe we Jews are just fucking smart.
*Jerry Seinfeld’s character was so goyish…. (I kid. Sort of.)