Are you smarter than an Atheist?

That’s the question posed by the folks at The Christian Science Monitor and they give you a chance to find out with a short online religious quiz:

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups in a 32-question survey of religious knowledge by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. On average, Americans got 16 of the 32 questions correct. Atheists and agnostics got an average of 20.9 correct answers. Jews (20.5) and Mormons (20.3). Protestants got 16 correct answers on average, while Catholics got 14.7 questions right.

I got 28 out of 32 questions right giving me a solid B+ (88%) on the quiz. At least one of the wrong answers I got was due to my rushing and clicking the wrong button so it’s arguable that I should really have gotten an A on it, but I’ll accept responsibility for my haste.

That said, it’s a surprisingly easy test and I have to wonder why any reasonably well read atheist would get only 20 to 21 questions correct. It’s very surprising to me that Protestants and Catholics did so amazingly poorly, but I guess once you have the “right” religion there’s no need to pay much attention to anyone else’s, eh?

You can see how well you’d do on it by clicking here.


  1. I got 29 of 32 questions correctly for a total score of 91%. – You are right it was really simple. I got messed up on the getting into heaven on Faith question as I thought all you had to do in Catholic churches was confess on your death bed and in Protestant “accept Jeebus as your savior” guess there must be a magic word somewhere that lets you in. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

  2. 30 out of 32. Relied on lyrics from Jesus Christ superstar for Nazareth but that was wrong. It was Bethlehem but I’m an atheist. Missed on the first awakening. Never heard of it. Bonus marks for me because I got all the USA law questions right even though I’m Canadian.

  3. 29 out of 32. Not really surprised that an atheist would do better than a catholic or protestant. They are required only to know their own bible and creed; why study or learn anything about someone who’s got it wrong?
    I am glad to see that they acknowledged that their definition of ‘atheist’ was not quite right.
    “Some might disagree with Pew’s characterization of atheism and agnosticism. Strictly speaking, atheism is the belief that God does not exist. Agnosticism, a term coined in 1869 by English biologist T.H. Huxley, is the belief that the existence of God is unknowable.”
    The quiz’s phrasing [someone who does not believe in god] did seem weighted in favor of there being a god.

  4. Wow, 30 of 32 and I went pretty quick. Some were pretty easy by eliminating obvious wrong answers – there were a bunch that I wouldn’t have been able to answer in short form.

  5. 32/32, then I shared it on facebook just to annoy my religious relatives. It’s the season for sharing, right?

    My favorite part was the link below to a “related article”: Is Ghandi really in Hell?
    My first thought was “Fundamentalists say yes, liberal christians say nobody knows for sure, and the South Park guys say yes, but just for the lulz.”

  6. 30 out of 32….. not really worried about the difference between Taoism and Hindism, or which religious freak started the great awakening… The awakening for those people NEVER happened!

  7. Just a thought…. if the ‘Great Awakening’ had ever actually happened….. wouldn’t there be more Atheists……………?

  8. 32/32 although I guessed on two of them. Some of those Supreme Court questions seemed geared towards Americans.

  9. 31/32 – like Last Hussar, I have never heard of the Maimondes. Did some research. He was a jewish philosopher and tora scholar.

  10. Strangely enough, the only reason I got the Maimonides question right is because I’ve been re-reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos lately (for the Nth time…I just like the style and find it rather inspirational), and there is a passage about Isaac Newton’s religious beliefs, quoted from a short biography, “Newton, The Man” by John Maynard Keynes:

    “He was rather a Judaic monotheist of the school of Maimonides. He arrived at this conclusion, not on so-to-speak rational or sceptical grounds, but entirely on the interpretation of ancient authority. He was persuaded that the revealed documents give no support to the Trinitarian doctrines which were due to late falsifications. The revealed God was one God. But this was a dreadful secret which Newton was at desperate pains to conceal all his life. It was the reason why he refused Holy Orders, and therefore had to obtain a special dispensation to hold his Fellowship and Lucasian Chair and could not be Master of Trinity. Even the Toleration Act of 1689 excepted anti-Trinitarians.”

    Interesting stuff…while Newton was a god-believer of some sort himself, he devoted a fair amount of time in his mid-life to researching church and religious history in an attempt to find out which traditional beliefs were true and which were myth, and to set an accurate history of ancient events. A lot of this remained unpublished or at least unpopular until after his death. It seems as if the politically and ecclesiastical powers of the time were no more happy about people investigating their bullshit than they ever have been or are today.

  11. I got everything except for the “Great Awakening” question. I thought John Edwards ran for prez in 2008- I never knew any preachers by that name. Otherwise, the whole quiz was simple and not even slightly challenging. I’m embarrassed for anyone who scores less than 25.

  12. 31/32!! I missed the one about the First Great Awakening, had never heard of it before. Just sent the test to a friend of mine who is a retired pastor.

  13. 29/32, went too fast and mis-clicked for one – should be 30/32. A Christian here… but then again I really like learning about other religions in general (especially Greek/Roman ones) and also the history of my own. Also a Canadian ;)

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