Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

More than a quarter of adults do not know where Jesus was born.
From the Telegraph

A survey of 1,015 adults last month showed that 27 per cent of Britons aged 18 and over were unable to identify Bethlehem as Jesus's birth place. When questioning people aged between 18 and 24 over a third didn't know.

One in ten of those questioned thought the answer was Nazareth and a similar number said Jerusalem.

The poll also found that more than one in four people - 27 per cent - were unaware that an angel told Mary that she would give birth to a son, with some saying she was informed by the shepherds.

Most people surveyed believed that Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Nazareth rather than Egypt when they escaped from King Herod, and a few even said the holy family's destination was Rome.

The poll showed that the younger the questionee, the more ignorant they were of the Christmas story. Although the story is still part of the cultural mainstream people were becoming increasingly shaky on the details.

Personally I think that dropping standards in the teaching of proper history is to be appaled, but if the nation starts to let Christianity slip into the realms of Christian Anderson then well and good.

The poll results are likely to refuel the debate about the secularisation of Christmas.




At 3:45 pm, Anonymous Billy (A Liberal Disabled Vet) said...

I think that atheists (who, do to our societal condition (one of the few minorities it is still okay to discriminate against)) may be able to answer these questions better than so-called theists (sorry, clumsy sentence). I was not raised in a religious home (though we did go to 'church' occasionally). I was, however, raised in a very historically aware house (my dad has a BS in geology, but his true love is maritime history). Awareness of 'holy' books, and the historical context of the writings, was an important part of my upbringing.

That said, I am brought back to a quote by John Lennon (though I do not remember the exact quote) when he stated that the Beatles were bigger than jesus, that more people in America and England knew details about the Beatles than had detailed knowledge about jesus. I wonder what the percentages would be if, for the same people, they were asked where the members of the Beatles were from, what their names are (were), who played what instrument, etc. I tend to think that the same, or higher, percentages would get the right answer, though the age would still be skewed. (Maybe add some spice girls or some other new group to test the kids?).

Interesting post.

At 6:16 pm, Blogger Stew said...

The notion is that it is a quiz of popular culture.
I happen to agree with you there, although there will always be arguments over why my definition of "trivia" may be someone else's definition of "important knowledge".
Christians will be appalled at the poll results because they feel that we should take such "history" seriously, because it is the story of how god became man on earth.

At 10:00 pm, Blogger travelling, but not in love said...

Well, I think it's quite funny - as long as the area of the brain used for storing this information is filled with something more useful.

However, I'm guessing it's not, and that it's used for remembering all of the drinks in the round. Which, if we're being honest here, is probably a much better use of brain capacity...

At 11:50 pm, Blogger Stew said...

TBNIL - that part of the brain is used for storing song lyrics. And then you hear a song on the radio you havne't heard in 20 years and you sing along word perfect. What's the point of that?
Then you meet someone in the DIY store and you can't remember their name. And it is so embarrasing because you can't introduce them to your partner, and the conversation limps along with nameless face and your partner both thinking "Why the hell doesn't he introduce us? Has he got Aspergers or what?"

At 5:03 pm, Blogger travelling, but not in love said...

The point is that you get to sing along to Dusty Springfield at high volume in your car, matching her word for word (if not note for note...).

And let's face it, that's far more enriching and life-enhancing than remembering that Ken from three doors down is called Ken and not Malcolm.

At 3:11 am, Blogger Gary McGath said...

Those who answered "Nazareth" were more likely right than those who answered "Bethlehem," and those who answered "don't know" could simply have been giving a fair assessment of the evidence.

The claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem rests on the claim that the Roman tax system required people to travel to their birthplaces to pay, which is both historically unsupported and implausible. The contrived claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem served to bolster his claim to be the Messiah, who was supposed to come from there according to some prophecies.

I am very definitely unaware that an angel told Mary anything.

Scrolling down in the story, I see that the question was prefaced with "According to the Christian Bible," but Jonathan Petre draws no distinction between Biblical story and fact in the article, berating people for their ignorance of supposed facts.


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