A flawed quiz about belief? I have no doubt.

By Phil Plait | June 26, 2006 11:06 pm

I am asked all the time if I believe in the Big Bang, or if I believe in evolution.

Generally, the asker is shocked when I reply "no".

But I don’t believe in either. Belief implies faith without evidence, and that does not accurately describe my attitude. I have seen plenty of evidence — copious amounts, overwhelming amounts — of evidence of both. So it’s not a matter of belief. It’s a matter of understanding the evidence and knowing that both theories are almost certainly correct. So I have trust in them, you might say, but not faith. There is room for doubt– there’s always room for doubt — but it’s scant room indeed.

So I had to grimace a bit when I saw this quiz about doubt. In reality I’d call it a quiz about belief. Either way, it’s flawed.

Why? Well, look at question 3:

Is there an identifiable force coursing through the universe, holding it together, or uniting all life-forms?

If I answer "yes", then the quiz proceeds normally. But if, instead, I say "no", then how do I answer this next question?

Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above) could ever be responsive to your thoughts or words?

So if I don’t believe in "this force", then there is no correct answer to that question. You might say the correct answer is "no", but what if I do believe in that force, but I don’t think it listens to prayer? I’d answer "no", but that would be indistinguishable from the non-believer answer.

The next three questions are similar. So I posit that the quiz is flawed.

But my favorite flaw is the very last question:

If someone were to say “The universe is nothing but an accidental pile of stuff, jostling around with no rhyme nor reason, and all life on earth is but a tiny, utterly inconsequential speck of nothing, in a corner of space, existing in the blink of an eye never to be judged, noticed, or remembered,” would you say, “Now that’s going a bit far, that’s a bit wrongheaded?”

If I do think the Universe is accidental, that does not mean there is no rhyme or reason– all of science depends on the Universe obeying a set of rules (even if the rules are hidden, or hard to understand, or involve seemingly random events as quantum mechanics does). So right away, even if I do think the Universe is accidental, I would say that quotation is going too far and is wrongheaded, but not in the way the quiz means.

I also may not think life on Earth is inconsequential. I have heard this many times from religious people talking to atheists: how can you cherish life if you don’t believe in God? I find that question pretty funny, actually! The mindset is, if atheists don’t cherish life, what is to keep them from simply murdering anyone who ticks them off?

The answer is that atheists, as well as believers, have evolved a sense of morality over millions of years. Mammals tend to be family-oriented, and primates very much so. Tribal customs evolved to aid survival, which means helping others when needed. It’s not hard to get an idea of how morality evolved from that, although of course I am grossly oversimplifying things here.

If you think this is wrong, then consider this: if no God means no morality, then you’d expect atheists to commit more crimes. Yet, if you look at prison statistics, atheists are grossly underrepresented in jail. Only 0.21% of prisoners are atheists, though in the US some 3-9% of the population call themselves atheists. If religious people were more moral than atheists, then you’d expect the number of atheists in prison to be much higher than their percentage in the population. Yet the opposite is true. This means that atheists commit proportionately fewer crimes than religious people (well, it really means that atheists are caught and successfully prosecuted less, but one can assume those numbers scale with the numbers of crimes committed).

Are atheists more moral than believers? That’s a hard jump to make. But those numbers are very interesting.

As for the quiz, I see it comes from the book "Doubt: A History", written by Jennifer Michael Hecht. She has purple hair (her picture is on a page linked from the belief quiz), so I immediately have to like her, despite the flawed quiz. She was also interviewed on Skepticality, so I’ll have to give that a listen. I’d like to see where she was going with that quiz. The book itself sounds pretty interesting.

And how did I rate on the quiz? Well, I don’t think I’ll say. That way, you can believe about me what you want.

Comments (55)

  1. Geoff Richards

    As to the statistics of atheists in prison, if it’s anything like the UK armed forces, they ask you for your religion anf if you answer “atheist” they say “I’ll put you down as Church of England, then”.

  2. Stuart

    A strange test, my result was “You may still be an atheist or agnostic, though not of the materialist variety”.

    However I consider myself to be religious as I do believe in a higher force and the human ‘soul’ (for want of a better term). But I also accept evolution and the big bang as fact (or at least scientific theories that fit the observed facts best). Perhaps belief and doubt are as difficult to pigeonhole as religion in total?

  3. Christian Burnham

    I believe in certain things even though I don’t personally know enough about them to be able to defend those beliefs in court.

    For instance, I believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS and global warming is happening. I have to confess that I haven’t read any scientific papers to back up either of these beliefs- but I do have a trust that the consensus of scientists is very probably true. I also trust that if I really made the effort- I would be able to read the scientific literature for myself, though I might not understand all of it.

    I also believe that drinking arsenic might be injurious to my health, even though I don’t have any proof. I believe that my bank is not fiddling my account and that Steven Colbert has legs beneath his desk.

    One thing all sane people can agree on though- Ann Coulter is a *$%@$!*.

  4. Christian Burnham

    BTW, the question on the force that holds us all together… I put yes, because gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces seem to fit the bill. Is that what the quiz-masters had in mind?

  5. Christian Burnham

    Oh, go on- I want to be the 30,000th poster. What’s my prize?

  6. GAZZA

    My standard answer to those who claim atheists are less moral is as follows:

    Are you saying that you are only moral because you think you’ll be punished if you aren’t?

    If the answer is “no”, then they are pretty much conceding the argument. If they answer “yes”, then:

    So logically, if you thought you could get away with it, you WOULD murder, pillage, and steal?

    If they answer “yes” to that, I try to make sure to stay away from this person. If they answer “no”, then again, they’re conceding that you can act in a moral fashion without the threat of punishment.

    The argument that atheists are less moral is a fairly silly argument, and not one that paints a supposedly benign deity in a good light.

  7. MaDeR

    I think that atheists are no more and no less present in prisons (compared to % of general population). Diferrences in your statistics can be caused by differences in definition of word “atheist” in Federal Bureau of Prisons and folks from adherent.com.

    Remember this graduation? Lie, big lie, statistic…?

    But I can certaintly say that religious people are NO more moral than atheists.

  8. Jacco from Hoygens country

    You cannot be a skeptic without being fair. You cannot say wether atheists are less moral, equally moral or more moral than religious people, until a proper (scientific) investigation has been carried out. This is going to be very difficult (not to mention controversial), for instance how would you define “moral”, a scale of being moral, and a proper method for measuring? Statistics can offer hints but differences in definitions, poor registration and wishfull thinking tend to make statistics useless most of the time. In case you are wondering which side I am on: I am an atheist, and a skeptic. I BELIEVE that atheists and religious are equally moral, but I don’t have the slightest proof for that. What I believe is totally irrelevant.

  9. PK

    A couple of thoughts:

    First, if the binding forces in the universe are God, does that make dark energy the antichrist?

    Second, logically speaking the prison statistics indicate three possibilities:
    1. Atheists are more moral than believers.
    2. Atheists are less likely to get caught.
    3. Atheists pose as believers to get parole.

    Third, a rational person bases his degree of belief in a proposition on the weight of the evidence supporting that proposition. This is essentially the Bayesian approach to probability and inference. In science, the evidence for the Big Bang and Evolution is overwhelming, so the belief in the truth of (at least some version of) these theories is justifyable. But in general I would still call it a belief because more supporting evidence would lead to a stronger belief.

    When the evidence is lacking, and you still believe, then it is called faith. When the evidence is against you and you still believe, then it is called stupidity.

  10. PK

    Another funny thing about the quiz: When you answer question 9 correctly (“Do you believe that any part of a human being survives death, elsewhere or here on earth?”), i.e., “yes” (the atoms constituting our bodies survive after death), and all the other answers are “no”, then you get the following score:

    You are still an atheist, but you may have what I will call a pious relationship to the universe.

  11. Brother Jerry

    A prime example to show belief is this article.

    You are shown a statistic such as the one here about the prison inmates and their religious affiliation. Now there are people that will read that and try and state just as the author has put out some theories. Atheists are less likely to commit crimes, get caught, or more moral, etc.

    And if you accept that as the case then you are believing that is true with very little evidence to back it up. There is much to that statistic that leaves room to be expanded upon. Was that taken before or after they were incarcerated. (as in an entrance pole or while they have been there 6 months).

    This statistic could actually be stating that more people that go to prison find religion and leave atheistic beliefs behind to become Catholic or other.

    This simply is a small step to show that no matter what the evidence is showing it is entirely up to the individual to interpret it. Or to listen to the interpretation of someone else. Similar to being back in high school studying Shakespeare and his Sonets. The teacher would ask you what Shakespear meant by Sonet # 42. Who knows what he meant? He is gone and did not leave a notebook laying around that stated “When I wrote Sonet #42 I meant this….”

    We find an old skeleton and conduct testing upon it. We date it X years old, DNA test it, and a battery of other tests. We get results and that is it. It is now up to us as individuals to take those results and interpret them as a theory or anything else.

    Are there correct and incorrect interpretations/perceptions of things? I would believe that there are. However again that is a belief based on that I have not been proven wrong on that point yet…but it could happen.

    Sincerely
    Brother Jerry

  12. Carl Sagan gave a memorable quote in an interview when he was asked for his view of religious faith.

    “Faith means belief without evidence. Why would I want to believe something if there’s no evidence for it?”

    I think a lot of the disagreement in certain debates lies in the difference between belief and knowledge. I don’t pretend to understand what goes on inside that gap, but it seems big enough to drive entire theologies through.

  13. Roy Batty

    Knew I’d seen her before somewhere, eSkeptic a year ago (what a memory for a pretty face ;))
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/05-07-07.html

  14. BMurray

    Are you trying to tell me that one of these intarweb quizzes is poorly designed?! Holy crap does that mean that my inner self is not really best represented by Batman?!

  15. Well I did take the test and was rated an Atheist of the Rational Materialist variety, while I think I the test is biased, I don’t feel too bad about the score :)

  16. Berlie

    I scored ‘Agnostic’! I believe the universe has some sort of governing laws, but I don’t believe that prayers are answered. Now, I do not believe that a quiz, like this one, should be limited to yes/no/not sure. According to the religion I was brought up with, Pentecostal, I would be classified as an atheist. Actually, they’d just sum it up as being a sinner. Apparently, not interpreting everything the way they do means that you are going to Hell. :-)

    Want to make a preacher’s face red? Ask him if that maybe Evolution is part of God’s plan. He does work in mysterious ways, after all.

    -Berlie

  17. Robert Howard

    I have read the first half of “Doubt” and, thus far, it is a great read. I have learned a ton about the origins of philosophy, religion and doubt. It has been easy for a serious skeptic like myself to swallow as it seems to be written from a skeptical mindset.

    I say “seems to” because the presentation is non-judgemental, even-handed, not overly reverent or irreverent and totally unafraid in its’ handling of these obviously charged topics. I would not be suprised if many people with a religious mindset would also find the writing similarly comfortable. It is that well done.

    Forget the quiz. Read the book.

  18. Evolving Squid

    Am I the only person in the world who thinks it is the ultimate arrogance for anyone to believe that humans are so important that a divine being – real or imaginary – would take a personal interest in our affairs on the macro level (the whole of humanity), let alone on the micro level (individuals).

    That sort of thing is the next level of silliness above the “government is spying on me” people.

  19. hale_bopp

    Well, Evolving Squid, I don’t think I am paranoid about the government spying on me, but I did a FOIA request and got a copy of my FBI file a few years ago, so I know that I got the attention of someone at the FBI. Its not a long file, but it does exist. I’ll have to request another copy someday to see if they got anything else on me.

    Anyway, I get the believe in evolution/big bang thing a lot also from students and the public at talks. My answer is similar to Phil’s. I surprise people with a no, I don not “believe”. I am always careful to say that I accept them as the best explanation based on currently avaialbe sceintific evidence. Nature has a way of surprising us, so while it is good to be skeptical, don’t get too comfortable in the world we think we understand!

  20. Peptron

    Something else I don’t like from the quiz is that it seems to be centered on the three great monotheisms (Islam, Judaism, Christianity), and seems to not make the distinctions that allow for religious atheists (like buddhists).

    Also, like the BA said, many questions are loaded or contain multiple sub-questions, making it unclear what you mean by “yes” or “no”.
    A good example is the question that goes along the lines of : “Do you believe that something remains from a human after death.” No matter how I read the question, I don’t see how anyone could say anything but “yes”.

  21. JO

    The suggestion that atheists are not moral has always confused me. As an atheist myself, I’ve always had the view that, since there is no soul, God, afterlife, etc., this life that we now have is infinitely more precious than if it was just a cosmic ‘sorting facility’ (sinners go one place, believers go another, etc.).

    As for evolution and religion, my Dad went to a Catholic school. His biology teacher told them that Darwin’s evolution was correct, but that it was all part of God’s plan.

  22. HAL9000

    Here’s an even better idea: let’s not define people by group labels!

    As for the prison statistics, the same web site Phil links to also discovered the data is >70 years old.

    It’s also self-reported data which is notoriously unscientific. How many of the religious ones converted after incarceration.

    Sorry, Phil, but the numbers, froma a *scientific* standpoint, are not even interesting. And this is coming from a very nonreligious person.

  23. Irishman

    But I don’t believe in either. Belief implies faith without evidence, and that does not accurately describe my attitude.

    This is a topic of severe confusion. I submit that belief is not equivalent to faith, and the separation between belief and knowledge is smaller than imagined by some.

    Is it fair to define Faith as “belief without evidence”? What is “evidence”?
    Is it fair to characterize Knowledge as “belief based on evidence”? What if your evidence is misleading, misinterpreted, misremembered?

    In either case, a belief is an idea held to be true. The idea may be true or false, that is irrelevant. The idea holder thinks it is true, it is their belief.

    What is more critical is not that you hold the idea as true or not. The critical point is the reason why you hold the idea as true. Is it evidence based, or faith based?

  24. I didn’t know the numbers were that old. I’d love to see better ones!

    And Brother Jerry, you said, “You are shown a statistic such as the one here about the prison inmates and their religious affiliation. Now there are people that will read that and try and state just as the author has put out some theories. Atheists are less likely to commit crimes, get caught, or more moral, etc.

    And if you accept that as the case then you are believing that is true with very little evidence to back it up. There is much to that statistic that leaves room to be expanded upon.”

    That’s precisely true, and also precisely why I said that the numbers are interesting, but it’s still hard to make a case from them that atheists are more moral than believers. For example, they may not be directly related; that is, it may not be that atheists are less likely to go to prison because of their morals.

    Another explanation could be, people in prison tend to have less education, and atheists tend to be more educated. So there might be an indirect relationship between the number of people in prison and their religious beliefs.

  25. PhantomWolf

    BA, you say that the number of Atheists in Prison are less that those with a religion, fair enough, but is this statistic just for those that have been incarcerated, or is it taken for those that are caught at the time of the crime? The reason I make this distiniction is because there are a lot of Prision Ministries and a lot of prisioners “find” a religious while in jail itself, but were they actually “religious” at the time when they commited the crime? So really what I’m wanting to know is are your figures based on what they were when they did the crime, or once they got caught and punished? These are really two different things. Perhaps the result is really a reflection that more people in prision than outside of prision believe that they need to turn their lives around and do so by taking up a religion.

  26. Soulful

    The last time I was at a church of any kind was when I was a teenager, and the attraction was the girls.

    For most of my life I have always wondered how, no matter the creed, every religion seems to take as standard “knowledge” that humans have a soul to which something, good, bad or neutral, happens after the organic body loses animation.

    It always seemed to me that that is the Great Fallacy of human thought, comforting as may be. Building on a fictional premise, how can religion be anything but fictional.

    And then there was WMAP and type Ia supernovas, and as suddenly as anyone could possibly want, everything we are, everything we know or think we know, is only about 4% of everything that is or seems to be.

    Being smug about anything is a bad idea.

  27. Nigel Depledge

    How’s this for a totally meaningless answer:

    “You may still be an atheist or agnostic, though not of the materialist variety”

    ??????????????????????????????????

  28. Mark Schindler

    I am about 1/3 of the way through the book. From this book, and other histories I have read, one point keeps jumping out in all of the religions discussed. Whatever the original teachings of the leader were, when the followers make a formal religion out of it, the teachings are usually ignored or even directly contradicted. The only exceptions I can think of are The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and maybe Scientology. Give them a few years and then we will see.

  29. BTW according to Dictionary.com
    Belief does not imply “faith without evidence.” Indeed the Definition
    is “Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something.” Now that, to me, sounds exactly like what you meant by “So I have trust in them, you might say, but not faith.”

    Not that that bit of pendantic observation should overshadow your larger point

  30. PK

    Like I said before: belief is a perfectly rational concept. You can even quantify it. That is called the Fisher Information.

  31. I scored as a hard core atheist. A rational materialist, in fact. Not surprising, since most of the questions has strong dependence on the previous one. If I do not believe in a unifying life-force, how does the question “Do you believe this being or force can think or speak? ” mean anything?

    Anyway, like Douglas Adams (and BA it seems) I do not believe that God does not exist. I am convinced that God does not exist.

  32. I scored as a hard core atheist. A rational materialist, in fact. Not surprising, since most of the questions has strong dependence on the previous one. If I do not believe in a unifying life-force, how does the question “Do you believe this being or force can think or speak? ” mean anything?

    Anyway, like Douglas Adams (and BA it seems) I do not believe that God does not exist. I am convinced that God does not exist.

  33. Evolving Squid

    I answered “no” across the board except for “Do you believe that the world is not completely knowable by science? ” for which I had to answer yes.

    I answered yes because the question is an absolute – and I doubt that we can possibly know all there is to know.

    For that set of answers, it called me an atheist with a pious relationship or some such bollocks.

    For these type of questions: Do you believe this being or force can think or speak? the answer was “no” because if I don’t believe an in IPU at all, then clearly I also don’t believe in a thinking or speaking IPU.

    But overall, the quiz begs its answers, assuming that you must believe in some kind of IPU.

  34. broken twig

    what actually is the point of her test?

    why not just come out with it and ask “do you believe in God?”

  35. Kyle_Carm

    I’m with others, gravity links all things in the universe. The electromagnetic….hmmm I’ll say affects most things (at least those with a charge), the strong and weak affect only on the most local area.

  36. idlemind

    The idea that there is some mysterious force that relates otherwise unrelated stuff seems meaningless to me. We’re all made from the same stuff, belched out of supernovae, condensed into our sun and planet, and with an unbroken chain of living things yielding us after three and a half billion years or so. It doesn’t take some sort of mysterious force to say that there is a strong relation between us and life and other components of the universe. “Stuff” can become self-conscious, and it would be silly to think that we’re the only time that has happened or will happen. Whatever it is that forms consciousness is an innate property of matter and energy — and for me, that’s about as much spirituality as I can handle. I find it downright awesome.

  37. Sue Mitchell

    Came across a bumper sticker recently that I liked:

    “Morality is doing what’s right, no matter what you’re told; religion is doing what you’re told no matter what’s right.”

  38. SpikeNut

    Oh I like the purple hair. My 7-year old would too.

    A few months ago he declared that he is going to marry a girl with purple hair, since purple is his favorite color. He is going to dye his own hair purple as well, so they will match.

  39. Gary Ansorge

    Do temporal worm holes exist?

    Then, when I die, will you send your hologram back in time to talk to me?

    Doesn’t that mean I STILL exist?

    Dang, can’t get away from that old Einstein guy,,,

    GAry 7

  40. Irishman

    Gary, time travel opens a whole new set of tenses to language.

  41. Irishman

    When we juxtapose “believe” with “know”, what we are really trying to do is juxtapose the basis of belief on faith (revelation, desire) with basis of belief on evidence (quantifiable, measurable, or qualifiable experience).

    We have this problem because “believe” is a wide term, but there’s no equivalent narrow term that is the alternate of “know”.

    I “faith” that? I “feel” that?

    Thus we plug the wide term in for the alternate, when it doesn’t really fit.

    I may believe I got money from the ATM last Saturday. I know I got money, I spent it on Monday and Tuesday. I know I went to the ATM. But perhaps I remember wrong, and it was really Sunday that I went by the ATM. I still believe it was Saturday. That belief is not based upon faith, it is based upon evidence. It just is faulty evidence.

    broken twig asked:

    why not just come out with it and ask “do you believe in God?”

    A couple of points. First, the term “God” comes packaged with a lot of variation, so each person has their own personal interpretation of what that means. Juxtapose the “God” of Einstein and Spinoza with the “God” of Pat Robertson. So asking that question doesn’t really provide any insight, because it isn’t clear what is really being asked. The quiz is an attempt at addressing the deeper philosophical positions involved in the beliefs. Thus the need for more complex wordings.

    The problem is, as has been pointed out, if you answer “no” to belief in a metaphysical entity, then any further questions about said metaphysical entity are N/A. Here is an example:

    Question 4: Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above) could ever be responsive to your thoughts or words?

    Now this is perplexing. I don’t believe in the being or force posited above. How do I answer this? Do I answer on the basis that I don’t believe in said entity so, therefore, it cannot answer prayer? Do I answer in hypothetical, if there were such an entity it might have that capability? Do I care if it could have that capability since I don’t believe it is there?

    Poll structuring is an artform. It depends on if you want to create a leading poll to get particular answers, or if you want a neutral poll. Neutral polls are very difficult to achieve.

    Second point, this is a “Scale of Doubt” quiz. The underlying assumption is measuring what kind of doubter you are. It isn’t intended to classify Christians, but classify non-religious folk. Are you an Agnostic Deist? A Gnostic Materialist? Etc. That’s why the ratings have such cryptic comments as “You may be an atheist, but not a materialist one.” It presumes you classify yourself in some manner as an atheist/agnostic, or you wouldn’t be taking the quiz.

  42. KC Caldwell

    Can someone explain in non-tech speak how inflation happened? I am confused how the universe went from pinpoint size to its current size in the matter of a second, or less. I was facinated when I heard this recently.

    Thanks
    KC

  43. BH1602

    The quiz in question is reprinted from a book called Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. And yet the quiz vexes a dedicated skeptic. A sad legacy of religion is the suffering caused by subjecting ourselves and others to divisive sub-classifications. It’s interesting to me that someone wants to sub-divide people of doubt, as well. And to what end?

  44. broken twig

    KC Caldwell , why don’t you go to the badastronomy forum (BAUT) and ask that question in the questions and answer section?

  45. Robert Carnegie

    I think Carl Sagan used the one about gravity being a universal force.

    If you want to be picky, on the last question you mention, you could ask yourself, “Have I ever begun a sentence with the word ‘Now’, or used the phrase ‘a bit wrongheaded’, and am I likely to do so in the future, or is it too British?”

    As for belief… technically science isn’t set up as a matter of definite knowledge. The evidence you have is only ever finite. So if you want to define belief as, I dunno, being certain about an uncertainty, then if you make up your mind about science, you’re a believer. And I guess if you don’t then you’re an agnostic…

    When we die… I suppose our intestinal flora carry on for a bit. Our hair and fingernails apparently don’t after all – the flesh shrinks back as it dehydrates, or something wonderful like that.

  46. Nigel Depledge

    Irishman said:
    “Gary, time travel opens a whole new set of tenses to language”

    Oh, yes, especially if you remember your Douglas Adams. All but the first edition of Dr Dan Streetmentioner’s Time Traveller’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations were blank after the Future Semi-Conditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional, because it was at this point that most readers gave up.

  47. Zart

    I think the discussion on belief is mostly a sematic one.
    In the widest sense, a belief is just a thought construct, but the amount of stock we put in such constructs varies greatly.

    Knowlege and religious conviction are basically the same thing. Thought constructs in which we might place a great deal of trust. The difference is in the reasons for that trust.

    (Ha, I just realised by way of testing what I just said that if one was inclined to futher muddy the waters of the ID debate, one should accuse creationism of being JUST a belief. Same diff.)

    Anyway, we have tons of words for thought constucts, that refer to different levels of trust, the reasons we came to have that trust and also the level of abstraction, and context where the contruct applies.
    Hundreds probably.

  48. Gary Ansorge

    KC:
    Universal inflation came about when the universal Republicans had so undermined the Universal Economy that the Universal Dollar exploded,,,or,,,it was just a god fart in the false vacuum,,,

    Gary 7

  49. Irishman

    BH1602 said:

    It’s interesting to me that someone wants to sub-divide people of doubt, as well. And to what end?

    I would think the point is to understand the various different philosophical underpinnings at work, the breadth of belief and unbelief, and to better understand our own beliefs.

  50. jack Williams

    Phil said: ” Belief implies faith without evidence, and that does not accurately describe my attitude.”

    Uhm… wouldn’t “Faith implies belief without evidence.” be much more accurate? I DEFINATELY believe in the big bang and evolution, because of all the evidence that there is for them.

    A crazy christian gaving a belief in the mythical sky daddy WITHOUT evidence is called faith. They’ll tell you that themselves.

    —–

    ATHIEST: So, you believe in this god of yours, despite the lack of evidence?
    CHRISTIAN: Yes, I take it on faith.

    —–

  51. I scored as a believer. Shocking.

    By this definition, Saint Peter didn’t have a lot of faith. He denied Christ in the first chance he got on things got bad, and was skeptical about the Ressurection until he actually saw the evidence by himself.

    Anyway, everyone has evidence to back up their beliefs, or lack therof. It’s silly to think people with different views are idiots who believe in random stuff for no good reason.

  52. DJ

    Dr. Jennifer Hecht and Lisa Loeb: Separated at birth?

  53. I am asked all the time if I believe in the Big Bang, or if I believe in evolution.
    Generally, the asker is shocked when I reply “no”.

    Allow me to quote from Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad:

    Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.

    As for atheists being underrepresented in prisons, as much as I’d like to believe that, I’m skeptical: I suspect that what with the religiosity of the general population, and religious charities ministering to prisoners, that there’s an incentive to pose as a believer to get better treatment. And, I suppose, some number of atheists might find Jesus while they’re in prison. I’ve seen studies that correct for the latter problem by asking inmates their religion at their arrest or at the beginning of their incarceration, but I’ve never seen a study that explicitly tries to correct for inmates who lie.

  54. skeptigirl

    The last question clearly reveals the slant of the quiz.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »