Reason Freely

Atheists know what they’re talking about

Posted in news by reasonfreely on September 29, 2010

…but “nones” don’t.  This is according to a new Pew study on religious knowledge.

The exercise of reason requires unbiased, factual information; so it’s no surprise that atheists are the most knowledgable.  Those who care to reject religion in favor of rational secular ethics have typically studied it before they made that decision.  So, as the LA Times points out,

American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

“These are people who thought a lot about religion,” he said. “They’re not indifferent. They care about it.”

What interests me is that the “nones” have some of the lowest religious knowledge, lower than white mainline protestants, even.  Given what the LA times said about atheists, this implies that the “nones” are people who don’t think a lot about religion and don’t care about it.  And that’s OK, too; while it’s always better to think hard about your ethics, if you’re going to make a decision without engaging in a lot of reason and analysis, it’s better to disbelieve passively than to believe passively.

Other sources:  Times, NPR