The Course of Reason

New Gallup poll reveals stunning news that many Christians don’t know WTF they’re talking about

July 13, 2011

Dave Muscato, Vice President of the University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics (MU SASHA), examines the implications of the results of a recent Gallup poll.

This post originally appeared on the University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics blog.

Hello all; Dave here! In a Gallup poll published today, the world was shocked to find out that a whopping 3 out of every 10 self-identifying Christians in the United States believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. Even more shockingly, according to Bill Keller Ministries, a Christian group, statistical research shows that less than 10% of Christians have read the bible (thanks, JT Eberhard).

Oh, wait. That’s not news at all. In fact the number is a bit lower than it was in the ’80s, according to the article from Gallup. Also not surprisingly, there is an inverse correlation between biblical literalism and highest level of education achieved, as well as between biblical literalism and income, and a positive correlation between biblical literalism and conservatism/Republicanism.

I acknowledge that a few percent of Christians have actually read it, and a negligible number have even read it in its “original” Greek & Hebrew. I place “original” in quotation marks because the earliest fragment we have of any part of the New Testament dates to approximately 100 years after the events it claims to describe, and is itself a fragment of a copy; the earliest complete copy we have of the New Testament dates to about 300 years ex post facto. This is one area where Muslims really have it together over & above Christians – technically, it’s not the Qur’an if it’s been translated into a different language. If you buy an English copy, what you’re reading is “A Translation of the Qur’an,” not the Qur’an. I applaud the founders of Islam for their forethought in attempting to keep its source documents pure, even though we don’t have the originals of those, either.

Anyway, I think it’s fair to say that, given that over 90% of Christians haven’t read the Bible, that 50% of Americans can’t name even one of the four Gospels (NPR, Feb. 8, 2008), 50% of Americans don’t know that Genesis is the first book of the Bible (ibid), etc, you guys, as I said, don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

So, if I may, please allow me to show you a sampling of why, exactly, the Bible simply and utterly cannot be the literal word of your god.

You may have seen this poster before. If not, it’s worth checking out. You can print your own copy free here (thanks, Sam Harris!):

I also offer this lovely video by NonStampCollector:

Christians, as I stated publicly during my debate last April with Brother Jed Smock, I encourage you to read the Bible. Reading the Bible for the first time is what got me started on the path of realizing that it contains a lot of lies that my pastors never bothered to mention during Bible study or worship services. It’s not that they were lying, or even intentionally deceiving me; one full-time pastor I know, who currently presides over a congregation of about 1,500 people, admitted to me that he had never actually read the Bible cover-to-cover himself! It’s just ignorance, and the way to overcome ignorance is with education.

Read the Bible. Read the Book of Mormon. Read the Qur’an. The more you read, the more you’ll see, like I did, that they have striking similarities: they all describe impossible events that any objective observer would rightfully call fantastic and mythological. You start to realize that they’re all man-made.

If you believe the Bible is true, statistics clearly demonstrate that it’s probably because you’ve never read it and don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

As a Christian, you might know that humility is a value Christians hold. If you are rightfully humble, understand that you are in no position to ascertain whether it’s true or not if you’ve never even read it.

Even if you do go and read it, after you’ve read it, if you value humility, be honest enough to admit that just reading the book does not give you all the knowledge you need to be able to tell if the contents are factually correct or not.

The Bible describes historical events, among other things. If you don’t also study the secular history of the origins of the books, you are in no position to say whether it’s true even after reading it, in the same way that I’m in no position to say whether a textbook on hematology is factually correct after simply reading it cover-to-cover. Hematology isn’t my field, and aside from a lecture on anemia to which a friend took me once, I don’t know a lick about it. I’m comfortable enough with my lack of knowledge on the subject, and my honest enough about my ignorance, to say that.

In my Saturday post, I will post a video about the history of the Bible as a follow-up to this.

Until next time! Your feedback is appreciated; please leave me a comment in the comments section below.


About the Author: Dave Muscato

Dave Muscato's photo

Dave Muscato is Vice President of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics (MU SASHA). He has appeared in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, SPIN, and Entertainment Weekly, and on MTV News, VH1, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, and Howard Stern. Muscato is a junior at the University of Missouri majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin. Muscato posts updates to the Official SASHA Blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is and he can be reached at




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