Atheists know more about religion than Christians do
"...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you..." I Peter 3:15
As a Christian, I found an item in today's news disturbing, but actually not surprising.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released the results of a "religious knowledge" survey that found that atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable about religion that believers are.
Wow. Again, I'm not surprised, but this is to our shame. To my shame.
Yes, I know that Martin Luther spearheaded the Reformation. I could take you to any location in the Bible that you needed to find. I may know a little more than the average Christian, but I should--after all, I grew up in a pastor's home, going to church at least three times a week, and I graduated from Bible college.
Jason Boyett reflects on the survey:
Why do atheists and agnostics tend to know more about religion than devout
religious people? Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew
Forum, explained that non-believers typically grew up in a religious tradition
and gave it up on purpose -- after a period of reflection, study, and conscious
decision-making. "These are people who thought a lot about religion," he told the
L.A. Times. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."
On the other hand, many Christians come to faith and then stop searching.
Times story also quotes Methodist minister Adam Hamilton, author of When
Christians Get It Wrong, who said, "I think that what happens for many
Christians is, they accept their particular faith, they accept it to be true and
they stop examining it. Consequently, because it's already accepted to be true,
they don't examine other people's faiths. That, I think is not healthy for a
person of any faith."
As a heartfelt and devout Christ-follower, I believe I have the answers to life's most profound questions. I believe I have a hope within me that cannot be experienced by an atheist or an agnostic.
But can I give, as Peter wrote, a reason for that hope?
Those of us who call ourselves Christians should take this survey as a wake-up call. It's not enough to just believe. We need to be able to defend that belief if necessary. We need to get as smart about our faith as atheists are about their lack of it.