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Almost half of adults didn't know that the story of Noah's Ark was in the Bible

(80 Posts)
3bunnies Sat 08-Feb-14 06:36:22

According to this news story. I know that this sample will include people from other cultures and I guess that my knowledge of their religions isn't perfect, but when 65% of the population say that they are Christian I find it surprising.

Many people confused plot lines from Harry Potter as being in the Bible and a third of children (8+) didn't know that the nativity was in the Bible and had never heard of the crucifixion.

austenozzy Sat 08-Feb-14 07:03:08

hardly surprising that a largely secular and, lets face it, basically atheist nation is unaware of the provenance of a load of fabricated fairy tales. most brits are only cultural christians at most and i suspect they dont really believe in all that god nonsense.

Eminybob Sat 08-Feb-14 07:07:09

Yep, exactly what austenozzy says. There are a lot of stories from a lot of book that I don't know.
That said I do know the said stories from the bible as it was rammed down my throat at school.

Eminybob Sat 08-Feb-14 07:07:48


3bunnies Sat 08-Feb-14 07:24:52

But I imagine that neither of you count yourselves as Christians and you have both heard about it. Who are the people who call themselves Christian but haven't heard of Noah?

austenozzy Sat 08-Feb-14 07:52:27

seems all the bright ones are atheists these days. grin

AntsMarching Sat 08-Feb-14 08:00:41

OP, did you know that there are 'Great Flood' stories from different civilizations? It's not just in the bible.

Trapper Sat 08-Feb-14 08:07:12

But it didn't come from the bible, did it? The story is in other religious texts too and was around in various forms before the bible was compiled.

youvegottabekiddingme Sat 08-Feb-14 08:12:57

There's a chapter on the story itin the quran. A chapter named surah Nuh. Nuh is Arabic for Noah.

atthestrokeoftwelve Sat 08-Feb-14 09:23:10

76% of people in the UK say that religion is not an important part of their daily life, so it's not suprising.

Many peopole in the UK tick the box to say they are chistian, partly because of the education system who tells us so. Most people don't give a stuff about religion in this country and are "nominal christians"- ie christians in name only.

When I was growing up my parents would tick the census form saying that we were christian- church of scotland. This was what their parents were also.
So statistically our family were "christian", but no-one in our family ever attended church. I was never taken - not once.
We didn't have a bible in our house, I was never taught to pray, my parents never told me bible stories, god and jesus were never discussed.
Yet I considered myself and my family "church of scotland" that's what I was told I was. It was a meaningless definition, and segregated us from the catholic community also.
Most of my friends were in the same position.

So this idea of 65% of people in the UK being christian is very misleading.

More accurate is perhaps the figure that only 6% of peopl in the UK regularly attend church- now that is a more meaningful figure- it then shows that 94% of UK residents are either of another faith or no faith.

In that context I don't think it is suprising or important that so many people don't know a tale from a fictional book.

UriGeller Sat 08-Feb-14 09:35:05

If people know the stories and can make use of the analogies then why does it matter what book the stories are in?

HoneyandRum Sat 08-Feb-14 10:21:21

I don't think it's surprising at all and as most posters have already said the UK is only nominally Christian. However, in terms of cultural literacy and appreciating references to scripture together with stories and characters from the bible in Shakespeare and the rest of our historic literary canon, inevitably nuance and depth will be lost from our understanding. To say nothing of the lack of knowledge regarding how belief molded behavior, society and institutions in the past.

Many people have no idea that many common phrases to this day are biblical, "salt of the earth" for example.

niminypiminy Sat 08-Feb-14 13:25:31

I'm not surprised at all. Large numbers of people are ignorant about all sorts of things -- in one survey I remember more than half of respondents didn't know the Prime Minister's name; in another a large majority thought that the Soviet Union was on Germany's side in WW2 (granted there was the Hitler-Stalin pact, but that didn't last very long).

It saddens me that the foundational stories of our culture are so little known and appreciated, and that in general the idea that the past has nothing to offer us is so widely held to be true. I sometimes think that our entire cultural heritage, up until, say, the 1990s, could become the preserve of a tiny elite minority instead of a rich resource that could be part of our common history.

BackforGood Sat 08-Feb-14 13:36:07

I'm surprised at that.
Both as a Primary school teacher myself, and having had 3 dc go through schools, I'm aware that all children in the UK are taught stories from a variety of religions, and told which religion they are from. I'd have thought most children would have taken part in a Nativity play at some point and also done assemblies about Diwalli and so forth, each year the fact that this is a story from this religion or that, being mentioned.

TeacupDrama Sat 08-Feb-14 15:34:33

it seems strange that so many do not know which stories are from the bible when so many threads seem to be about the amount of religion they feel is shoved down their kids throats, either it is not happening as much as they think or its very ineffective

however these surveys always seem to suggest as niminy said that 50% of population know virtually nothing about anything today it was christianity tomorrow it will be geography there appears to be a large number of people that think the borders and scotland are about 10 miles north of manchester

atthestrokeoftwelve Sat 08-Feb-14 16:10:33

I am not sure that the report is important or significant.

The story of Noah's Ark is amongst one of the many Bible tales of mass genocide and infanticide- highlighting the chistian god as someone able to carry out murder of humans, women, children and animals on a global scale.
I am not sure what good message is contained within ideas like this.

Mindless global slaughter is sometime OK?

curlew Sat 08-Feb-14 16:19:36

I would have thought Christians would be delighted if most people didn't know the story of Noah was in the Bible- it is one of the stories that makes me even more certain that if the Christian god was real would want absolutely nothing to do with him. I find it extraordinary that it is considered a lovely little tale about animals for children!

curlew Sat 08-Feb-14 16:20:32

Oops, sorry. cross post.

atthestrokeoftwelve Sat 08-Feb-14 16:34:07

"The animals went in two by two".

Just more than a little bit dusturbing and redolent of activities surrounding other more recent 20th Century acts of genocide.

My daughter was taught this Noah's Ark tale at primary school.
She assumed it was a history lesson. She trusted her teacher to tell her the truth.
It took me 3 years to convince her that it was not historical fact.

breatheslowly Sat 08-Feb-14 16:42:17

It's not at all clear what questions were asked in the survey. Surveys can be really misleading.

BackOnlyBriefly Sat 08-Feb-14 16:42:45

In my own experience atheists tend to know more about the bible than religious people unless they actually work for the church as priests or whatever.

If you grow up in a religious setting you may never have reason to read the bible because the adults around you have told you the bits they think you need to know.

Atheists on the other hand tend to be those who have read and rejected what is actually in there.

On MN at intervals someone will suggest a group reading of the bible. I always get hopeful when I see this because I'd like people to know what it says, but usually they go on to say "Let's find some religious website that lists some specific verses to read". So they end up reading a list of unconnected verses that are poetical and/or inspiring, but add little to their knowledge of the bible as a whole.

I'd like to encourage everyone to read the whole thing at least once so they know what's in there.

atthestrokeoftwelve Sat 08-Feb-14 16:57:57

BackOnly- I agree. I have read the bible cover to cover and I can't say I have been impressed.

The bible is a long rambling text, the New Testament is a little less tedious than the Old testament, but no less inspirational.

There are however a few highlights and this is one of my favourites:

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them (2 Kings 2:23-24).

Certainly lots of drama.

KissesBreakingWave Sat 08-Feb-14 17:18:28

Of the ones that do know it's in the bible, how many know it's a point-for-point retelling of the self-same story in the Epic of Gilgamesh, dated to about a millennium earlier? And it's compiled from two different sources that in places flatly contradict each other about details of the story?

curlew Sat 08-Feb-14 17:22:58

And of the Christians who give their children Noah's Arks to play with, ho many realise that it is a symbol of an event where their God destroyed his whole creation in a fit of pique?

BackOnlyBriefly Sat 08-Feb-14 18:22:47

atthestrokeoftwelve, that's one of my favorites. Christianity, the religion of peace, love and mass murder.

I agree that Noah's Ark is an embarrassing story for Christians. At least for those who know what it's about. Saving the animals looks sweet to the kids, but they never add "and then he killed all the other animals out of spite".

And people seem to swallow the idea that every man, woman and child other than Noah's family deserved to die. There would presumably be babies and pregnant women in and out of the family. No one could possibly come up with a justification of that.

Of course we know it's not true, but it's a great example of the moral guidance provided by religion.

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