This time last year, I was nearing completion of my bachelors degree and writing a column for the Shepherd University newspaper, The Picket. My column, called the Danger Zone for obvious reasons and so aptly named at the mutual consensus of my editor and yours truly, was a commentary on pretty much anything I felt like, within reason. I started the DZ in the fifth week of the semester and released five issues before the end of the semester. My debut DZ was about a religious survey a friend posted to Facebook a while ago. Enjoy!


Hello Picket readers, alumni and Shepherd-enthusiasts alike. My name is Dane and I bring you the Danger Zone—mine and others’ views on haute topics, current events, entertainment, and relevant happenings in today’s world.
Any DZ reader should know that anything which involves technology, certain topics in history, and archaeology greatly interests me—I even consider myself to be a freelance astronomer—, in addition to anthropology and the evolution of humankind.
However, the first topic in the realm of the Danger Zone revolves around an article a friend of mine posted on Facebook not too long ago. And after a religion-themed episode of my favorite show Glee (“Grilled Cheesus;” check the show out, it’s super addictive), faith and lack thereof seemed an irresistibly hot topic.
The New York Times recently detailed the results of religious polling on 3,400 American citizens on their knowledge of religion. The results may not be what you’d expect in such a society of faith.
The participants represented a range of social and ethnic backgrounds and were asked a series of 32 questions based on common beliefs. The findings were shocking to many: most participants got half or more of the questions wrong, including questions about their own religion… in multiple-choice format.
Add to this the fact that atheists and agnostics scored significantly higher than the next highest groups, Jews and Mormons. But while this is shocking to believers, atheists and agnostics think this makes pretty good sense.
Dave Silverman, advocate of nonbelievers’ activist group American Atheists, said, “I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people.” He continues, “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.”
This sounds a bit offensive—as opposed to defensive—and it kind of is.
I’ve done a fair amount of reading various writers’ prose on losing faith, embarking on inquisitions to learn about other faiths or religious history, or merely better understanding various scientific concepts and landing somewhere on the other side as an atheist.
I dare say my own intellectual journey would sound much the same; yes, I am a nonbeliever.
The stigma with nonbelievers usually involves a believer building-up their non-believing counterpart as squashers of hopes and dreams, but darn it, it’s just not so. As an atheist, in college terms I can confirm that my level of faith has been negatively correlated with my knowledge of religion and anthropology.
In other words, as I learned more about religion, I put less and less stock into it. Learning more about one’s faith subjects that faith to increasing scrutiny. Thus, it begins to make sense that nonbelievers scored noticeably higher than believers if studying religion is part of the journey to atheism.
And when you think about some of the magical events depicted in the Holy B, shouldn’t a little skepticism be allowed? Even encouraged?
Recent Shepherd graduate Jen Richmond comments on how people become religious in the first place. According to Richmond, “Many people follow a religion, or at least prescribe to a certain religion, based on tradition, either in a family or in a culture.”
So it could be assumed from this that when religion is chosen, religious practice starts well before the belief is understood and even sooner than when sufficient information is made available.
The present study also suggests that Americans consider religion to be more taboo in public schools than it really is (for example, the Bible can legally be read aloud in classrooms if it is being studied in literary contexts). The full article can be read online here.
Do religious leaders cultivate ignorance and scientific intolerance among followers as a means of keeping faith safe? If you disagree, why then are atheists/agnostics more religiously savvy than believers? Shoot me an email with your responses, thoughts, questions or anything else at DangerZone.Picket@yahoo.com.

See you next time in the Danger Zone.

About the author

My name is Dane. I'm a writer at Android Authority as well as a tech journalist in general. As well, I'm a marketing guru, designer, and a budding web developer. My passions include portmanteaus, artisanal coffees, jackets, and the smell of fresh technology in the morning.