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Old 07-18-2008, 12:24 AM   #1
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Theists are Stupid

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Intelligence is a predictor of religious scepticism, a professor has argued. Rebecca Attwood reports

Belief in God is much lower among academics than among the general population because scholars have higher IQs, a controversial academic claimed this week.

In a forthcoming paper for the journal Intelligence, Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, will argue that there is a strong correlation between high IQ and lack of religious belief and that average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 countries.

In the paper, Professor Lynn - who has previously caused controversy with research linking intelligence to race and sex - says evidence points to lower proportions of people holding religious beliefs among "intellectual elites".

The paper - which was co-written with John Harvey, who does not report a university affiliation, and Helmuth Nyborg, of the University of Aarhus, Denmark - cites studies including a 1990s survey that found that only 7 per cent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God. A survey of fellows of the Royal Society found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God at a time when a poll reported that 68.5 per cent of the general UK population were believers.

Professor Lynn told Times Higher Education: "Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God."

He said that most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence - and their intelligence increased - many began to have doubts and became agnostics.

He added that most Western countries had seen a decline of religious belief in the 20th century at the same time as their populations had become more intelligent.

Andy Wells, senior lecturer in psychology at the London School of Economics, said the existence of a correlation between IQ and religiosity did not mean there was a causal relationship between the two.

Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck, University of London, said that any examination of the decline of religious belief needed to take into account a wide and complex range of social, economic and historical factors.

He added: "Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which - while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism - is perhaps not the most helpful response."

Alistair McFadyen, senior lecturer in Christian theology at the University of Leeds, said that Professor Lynn's arguments appeared to have "a slight tinge of intellectual elitism and Western cultural imperialism as well as an antireligious sentiment".

David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, said: "It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability - or perhaps willingness - to question and overturn strongly felt intuitions."
Times Higher Education - High IQ turns academics into atheists

Causation or correlation, I think it is easier to dismiss God as irrelevant critically than to justify it.

Not to box people in but many posters who are "religious" don't seem to believe in an interventionist personal God; they don't seem to bother with the negative parts of their religious texts; people that adopt what they consider the positive teachings of Jesus but don't need to get tied down with justifying miracles or resurrections. Having framed this group with such a broad borderline agnostic brush I think thats a good thing, I much prefer people tailoring their religion to their innate morality than twisting their morality around religious belief.

The secondary issue of religious belief and being a good scientist is more interesting to me. I have a rather positivist outlook on the world and I have no problem reconciling my beliefs with what is known about the world. My position in regards to God is that there is no cause to suppose God, that such an actor isn't necessary to explain the universe or personal morality. It is possible that God exists but I am effectively atheistic.

I think it is different for a scientist who is also religious, they can't allow their beliefs to effect their work but their work must inevitably impact their beliefs. I can think of the example of a perfectly competent PhD candidate studying fossil fish who also happened to be a Young Earth Creationist. I can't fathom the mind-bending involved in trying to write a proper scientific thesis while believing in such nonsense. He didn't reach the conclusion that God created the Earth and every animal six thousand years ago from the evidence, he held that belief system from childhood and held onto it even though as a hypothesis it is about as wrong as any statement can be. It isn't that intelligent people can't hold religious beliefs, it's that they can and have to justify those beliefs to their own intelligence.

In general intelligence can allow people to think critically and that can create a lot of agnostics (I am [i]technically[i] an agnostic; although I have more acceptance of the martian teapot claim than a guiding intelligence). Intelligence can also allow people to justify pre-conceived absurdities.

It may not be that atheists are just smarter than other people, it may be that smart people have more trouble accepting religion and possibly spirituality (which is a separate issue).
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Old 07-18-2008, 12:51 AM   #2
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I wonder sometimes if belief in a God is less a need for God than it is a desire for the comfort of ritual (and socialized ritual) which cuts across the intelligence spectrum.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:10 AM   #3
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Are you trying to pick a fight with us Theists, A_W?

Well, you won't get one from me. My brother is way more intelligent than I am and. . .

yes, he's an atheist.

Still, as Mrs. S says, some believers are EVEN intelligent and rationale.

I do believe in a personal interventionist God. I believe the resurrection and the miracles and all that (It's kind of absurd to dismiss the resurrection and the miracles and yet still insist on believing in a scientifically unprovable God in my book. I'm not saying that those who have this kind of belief are absurd. I'm just saying it's absurd to INSIST that one must dismiss the miraculous on scientific grounds when one continues to believe in God).

Your point about the Young Earth scientist is well taken though, and it's why I'm no longer stuck to the idea of a six day Creation. I think scientists who accept evolution but still believe in God (and yes even Jesus and all that) are more problematic to your view of the prime motivator for belief--the kind of childish awe and wonder about things we can't understand. I've said before and will continue to argue that religion for most people (though not all--apparently not for you) is not merely about explaining phenomena.

One other thought. . .intelligence is great but intelligence doesn't make you a "better" or "worse" human being. If only the reason for all the horrible things humanity has done to itself was simply that people were dumb.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BonosSaint View Post
I wonder sometimes if belief in a God is less a need for God than it is a desire for the comfort of ritual (and socialized ritual) which cuts across the intelligence spectrum.
I don't know if we can ever say with authority whether this is the case or not. For me ritual (socialized or otherwise) is not what brings me comfort in my faith. It's the belief that there is an Ultimate Good out there that will "win" someday; it's the hope of seeing loved ones who have passed away again and the hope that my own finite number of days on this planet is not all there is; it's the attraction of a love that I can never lose. . .that at least in part is what draws me.

I can't speak for anyone else.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:25 AM   #5
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I don't think that is the sole reason. Nor do I think it is the prime motivator in the genuinely religious. I think it is one motivation for the quasi religious and I think for a lot of people who wouldn't call themselves religious at all, but like the ritual of it. I think you sometimes find something like that in former believers like me who no longer miss belief in god, but still search for some kind of ritual--as irrational as that sounds.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:30 AM   #6
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I don't think that is the sole reason. Nor do I think it is the prime motivator in the genuinely religious. I think it is one motivation for the quasi religious and I think for a lot of people who wouldn't call themselves religious at all, but like the ritual of it.

True.

Though to be honest it amazes me that people get that much out of the ritual of it. For me a lot of the time the ritual is just a pain in the ass!
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:32 AM   #7
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Sometimes I think that those really smart people that deny God just have a hard time accepting someone smarter than them.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:38 AM   #8
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Sometimes I think that those really smart people that deny God just have a hard time accepting someone smarter than them.

Whereas we dumb people are thinking, shit, I hope there's Somebody smarter than me up there!
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:43 AM   #9
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Whereas we dumb people are thinking, shit, I hope there's Somebody smarter than me up there!
Amen.





Though I do think Einstein believed in God, or something "up there". So that also gives me some hope. Einstein was allright in my book.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:48 AM   #10
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Though I do think Einstein believed in God, or something "up there". So that also gives me some hope. Einstein was allright in my book.
Weelll, it depends on who you talk to. Everybody wants to claim Einstein for their themselves--the atheists want him, the believers want him, the agnostics--everybody. And really, who wouldn't?
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:49 AM   #11
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:06 AM   #12
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Weelll, it depends on who you talk to. Everybody wants to claim Einstein for their themselves--the atheists want him, the believers want him, the agnostics--everybody. And really, who wouldn't?
I have never heard of the Muslims trying to claim him.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:13 AM   #13
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I have never heard of the Muslims trying to claim him.
Haven't you heard? Einstein was actually a Muslim!
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:24 AM   #14
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Weelll, it depends on who you talk to. Everybody wants to claim Einstein for their themselves--the atheists want him, the believers want him, the agnostics--everybody. And really, who wouldn't?
He wasn't a theist
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The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them.
The problem with physicists is their use of religious terminology in framing concepts, Einstein spoke of God only in the sense of the universe, not a creator deity.

His wikipedia article had this quote
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I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.
Obviously not an evangelical atheist or anti-theist.

On being claimed as theistic
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It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
I can relate to the sentiment towards the numinous experience through science, not religion.

Agnosticism is the only position science can take in regards to God, it is unsurprising that a man as intelligent and considered as Einstein would hold it. It's also funny that the likes of Richard Dawkins, who holds a very similar position but is outspoken about it gets mischaracterised as somehow the equal but opposite of a religious zealot. Faith is affirming in the absence of evidence, unbelieving is not a faith-based religious position.

I would like to see an example of an atheist that has certainty and faith that God doesn't exist.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:43 AM   #15
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I wonder sometimes if belief in a God is less a need for God than it is a desire for the comfort of ritual (and socialized ritual) which cuts across the intelligence spectrum.
Identity is important to people, so is family, I wouldn't doubt that religion caters to peoples need for both these things, it couldn't exist if it didn't.
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