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The Sound of Ideas

What Do We Know About Faith?

Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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It turns out religious people may not actually know all that much about religion -- even their own. A recent national survey found that atheists and agnostics knew more than the devout. On the next Sound of Ideas, we'll examine the survey and discuss whether it's important to know the details of your religion to be faithful. Does the entrance to heaven, for example, involve a multiple choice quiz? Join us Tuesday morning at 9:00. We've got faith it will be a lively discussion.


Other, Community/Human Interest, Ethics/Religion


Timothy Beal, Professor of Religion, Case Western Reserve University
Mano Singham, Director, Case Western Reserve University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education.
Marvin McMickle, senior pastor, Antioch Baptist Church
John Green, Senior Research Advisor, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

Additional Information

Take the Pew religion quiz

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Sashank 9:37 AM 12/14/10

I am agnostic. I came to this conclusion by questioning my faith (hinduism) and also by looking into what other faiths have to say.  I think many of us who are agnostics or atheists have come to by questioning our faiths.  Even now, I’m actively trying to learn more, and I’m constantly questioning my conclusion.

I think it’s absolutely vital that the faithful ,should learn and question their faith, or their belief is blind.  “God” gave us a mind, and its absolutely ridiculous not use it.  You have to have a reason to believe in God, Jesus, nirvana, moksha etc., or else religion excludes anyone who thinks for yourself.

There’s also a utlitarian purpose to learning about religion.  Millennia of human wisdom, philosophy, history, and thinking is contained in these traditions.  Even if you are an atheist, its highly valuable to know about these.  Also, studying religion I think will give religion bashers an appreciation for the fact that religions are living, breathing, evolving traditions instead of 2000 year old literature.

M Meschkat 9:41 AM 12/14/10

I think that objective of this program and the conversation have taken a wrong turn.  This program/channel should not be focused on promoting one religion over the other

lisa 9:43 AM 12/14/10

I am a christian, but as one of your guests mentioned I tend to separate my belief in science and faith to an extent.  What bothers me is when the public school takes out science to protect faith belief. ex.) the belief in darwins theory of evolution.

Joane Johnson 9:45 AM 12/14/10

I took the Pew this morning and I got 100%.  I am a black woman.  I do believe in God.  I am a Protestant.  I do not believe people who hate others will get to heaven, no matter what they believe.  They can profess their belief in God and Christ but if you hate others due to race, religion, etc., you are the hypocrit. I do not believe any of the religions are the ‘right’ ones.  God told their founders what to do and you have no right to question it.  I am well read, educated, love science.  I do not fit the ‘mold’ of a black baptist who for the most part from my experience can be woefully ignorant of life, let alone the Bible.  My parents did not play that with their daughters and we were raised in church. I love learning of Islam and ask questions.  Judaism holds my greatest fascination and if I ever changed, it would be to Judaism.

Stephanie Mecham 9:49 AM 12/14/10

I am concerned that subjective religious interpretations get influenced in laws that effect all of us.

John 9:55 AM 12/14/10

Even though the “Golden Rule” is not one of the ten commandmants, isn’t it considered the greatest statements of all faiths and their unifying message for us to have mutual respect?

Also, isn’t application of one’s faith, “walking the walk” more important than just the knowledge of one’s faith?  “talking the talk?”

MOrgan 9:59 AM 12/14/10

I feel sorry for the gentleman that felt duped. I was raised in the faith as a United Methodist and there is not a time that I can remeber not knowing that the gospels were authored by a person or persons who were not the namesake of the book. I have a bachelor of Arts in History from Cleveland State University with a personal concentration in Antiquities and Religious Social History in Europe.  The more I learn the more faith I have. We must understand that God’s example may be the aspiration, but man is fallible, and that the church is man made. I missed one question on the Pew Survey. Knowledge does not lead to disbelief. True knowledge leads to true faith.

freddie 10:05 AM 12/14/10

I want to thank Mike all of his panel except the atheist.
there are two issues of importance:
1-i think religion as a whole went down a step when they took religion out of school. I honestly think that was a big mistake
2- there are certain concepts that many clergy want the average person to accept without asking questions.  For example, the whole idea of Trinity.  I have not yet met a Christian who understands let alone can explain it and yet he must beleive in it.

bruce biddle 11:11 AM 12/14/10

Thank you Rev.McMickle for taking a strong stand on the broad value of scripture beyond ‘salvation’ and for referring to the evolution of the church. Let us also be a people that participates in all kinds of interfaith events, discourse and friendships. Is there room in our world for new revelation? Jesus said there is more truth to come and we must be open to it and prayerful, while showing great respect for those who seek understanding in science and through new religious viewpoints. Explore Sun Myung Moon for example, and his straightforward view on the sanctity of the family, living for others and learning from the natural world. His new autobiography: “As a peace loving global citizen”

Mike McCray 7:20 PM 12/14/10

Life without a faith is meaningless except for a personal narcissism that is temporal. Tolerance is wishful thinking about conflicting positions.

Judi 10:06 PM 12/14/10

This show missed a good opportunity to point out that the absolute adherence to the belief in an inerrant scripture has been at the root of a lot of discrimination. One example is the current justification for denying gay/lesbian Americans the right to marry in any state. While the Rev. McMickle and at least one of the callers talked about they taught the essence of their religions, not just the facts, it is the acceptance of biblical stories as facts (particularly, certain scriptures that warn against adding or subtracting anything from scripture, lest you be damned) that have been used to instill fear, to oppress, to control and to deny.

John Crick 12:41 PM 12/16/10

In your religion quiz, you ask what the major religion of Pakistan is.  “Muslim” is not a religion, but it is the demonym for the practitioners of the religion Islam.

Mark 3:09 PM 12/16/10

I think it’s very interesting how people who were at some point dependent on a literalist reading of the Bible can easily get disappointed (or defensive).  I agree with Prof. Timothy Beal that we need to rethink what it is we are looking at when we read the Bible.  I understand that the irregularities and conflicts within Scripture are interesting and informative.  They may even shape our faith and theology.  However, modern biblical scholarship doesn’t need to threaten my faith in God and the transformative power of God’s Spirit.  The Bible stories have truth in them, truths that can transform our lives.  An overdependence on science or history sidesteps what we’re supposed to get out of the Bible to begin with.  Religion, faith, and spirituality can not be fully understood through science, unless science is the pivotal value and therefore one’s religion.


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