Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

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RoosterOnAStick
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Sat Nov 21, 2015 1:39 pm

Oh boy,

I think I see the error here, and that is the mistake of equating intelligence to intellectualism. They aren't the same thing. There are plenty of people who are not intellectuals that are very intelligent people. So it is one thing to challenge how one can be say an intellectual and a Christian but that's different than saying that intelligence is not a trait of Christians. The latter essentially says that only people who are non-Christians are intelligent and that would naturally be not only perceived as insulting (and rightly so), but also called out for being a false statement.

Intellectuals do not have a monopoly on intelligence or critical thinking skills. Being an intellectual to me is more like a mentality and a way of life, where the goal is to not just simply question or challenge things, but also come to a deeper understanding of how a given thing actually works as well. It is the pursuit of knowledge for it's own sake, and the acquiring of additional understandings, honest, meaningful, and grounded inquiry, and acquiring additional modes of thinking is its own reward. Many people are more than capable of this whether intellectual or not, but an intellectual does it as part of their enjoyment. It's their personality or rather their nature, but it is not something that in of itself makes one better or worse off than another and is thus not a license for arrogance or pride.

So with that in mind, it will help all of us sdaf if you take back that statement of Christianity not being a trait of the intelligent. It is simply not true.
“If the history of the 20th Century proved anything, it proved that however bad things were, human ingenuity could usually find a way to make them worse.” - Theodore Dalrymple

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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby sdaf » Sat Nov 21, 2015 1:45 pm

Albert Einstein, one of the most intelligent people that ever lived, was a man of religion. Copernicus was a Catholic as well as a mathematician and astronomer. These men are probably smarter than wither you or I, and they believed. How do you explain that, from your philosophy?
Actually the statistic was in the article originally posted by ccgr. http://www.examiner.com/article/study-s ... -believers. Hard fact. Science!

Two examples? Won't prove a point. My mother is religious and I don't deem her stupid. Nor do I say that being religious and at the same time intelligent is a controversy. I stated being intellectual and being religious is a hard mixture. Religion is not critical. It just takes things for granted. That's what the word "believe" means, taking things for granting without critically questioning them.

Actually I did not state it as a fact. I stated it as a personal opinion.

Oh and talking about Copernicus. Classic. He would have ended like Galileo if he didn't die shortly after publishing his "heretic" world views. And I am not sure if he was that great a believer :D

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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby sdaf » Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:09 pm

Oh, BTW - as I find this topic very interesting, I just found a very nice quote from Einstein.
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."
Here's the link http://www.theguardian.com/science/2008 ... e.religion

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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby sdaf » Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:25 pm

So with that in mind, it will help all of us sdaf if you take back that statement of Christianity not being a trait of the intelligent. It is simply not true.
I think I never said that. I said religion (not Christianity). There are statistics that people with a lower IQ are more susceptible to religion. This is a proven fact. So how could I take that back?

I am not talking about Christianity alone. Christianity had its party times during the middle ages (inquisition, crusades, witch hunts and all this fun stuff) and is now (and that also only my personal opinion) a highly corrupted system, but more or less harmless and in its death throes.

Take a look at extremist Islam. At the moment Islam is instrumentalized to terrorize not only America but Europe, Africa, Asia, etc. The people pulling the strings are highly intelligent, but even if their puppets committing their holy crimes are measurably intelligent, how can they blow themselves up, believing that a lot of virgins wait for them in the afterlife? How can an intelligent person do such a thing, believe such a totally stupid story?

There's a difference in my opinion between measurable intelligence and behaving intelligently. And yes - intelligent != intellectual.

Also - we are talking about a tendency, a statistical trend. Not all intelligent people are not religious and vice versa. E.g. I do not believe you all to be stupid. Just having a different opinion, which for me is not comprehensible. As for you Islam may be not comprehensible.

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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ArcticFox » Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:31 pm

I do not believe you all to be stupid.
Right. You only talk to us like we are.

It's interesting how you keep flipflopping between stating your ideas as fact, and then when you're proven wrong you backpedal and call it just your opinion.

The statistic you're so pleased with means very little, when you consider all the other factors. Perhaps that 7% is the top 7% smartest. Who knows? The most intelligent people I've ever known believe in God, because they aren't afraid of religion the way some people are.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:01 pm


I think I never said that. I said religion (not Christianity).
It is an issue of semantics only. Christianity is a religion, so if you make an assertion that you believe is true of all religion, then it also applies to Christianity as well since Christianity is a type of religion.
There are statistics that people with a lower IQ are more susceptible to religion. This is a proven fact. So how could I take that back?
EDIT: I looked back to earlier in this thread after posting this and had not noticed that a link to a statistical analysis in 2013 had been posted. I found a similar article on Yahoo News about the same analysis, although they had a different set of interpretations than Examiner.com did.

http://news.yahoo.com/religious-people- ... ml#upCr476

I'm reading more into the studies that make this thing up. Apparently the main scatter plot was from a particular study that actually had a lot more granularity and nuance to it than the Examiner.com article suggests. These additional facts would affect how one would interpret this. One thing I am looking at is their breakdowns by demographics and also by country. The second one is actually incredibly important, since it breaks it down further based on how many countries have a substantial atheist population to begin with (so far a fraction of all nations). It also would be worth noting that this is significant because it also correlates to how much any given religion is part of a country's culture or way of life. Modern 21st century USA, being the pluralistic society that it is, I would expect to have different results than say, a country that is rooted in one particular religion such as India, Russia, or some of the Mediterranean nations (Greece, Italy, etc.).

More on this later when I have had more time to look through this.


In the meantime, taking statistics based on the question of whether or not people with a higher or lower IQ are more susceptible to religion is a horrendously loaded question to begin with. It really is like asking "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" because both questions carry some major assumptions that may not be accurate. The question of being "susceptible to religion" assumes that religion is either a weakness, a deception, or otherwise an undesirable thing. You may believe this to be a given, but there are others here, myself included, who do not believe that to be a given and some would challenge that assumption.

Since the topic we are all examining is whether or not being an intellectual or critical thinker and religion are mutually exclusive things and whether things like religion are actually a strength or a weakness, this is not the right question to ask, or it is otherwise framed the wrong way because it assumes something that is not a given. I'll make another post explaining more on why I challenge this assumption.
Christianity had its party times during the middle ages (inquisition, crusades, witch hunts and all this fun stuff) and is now (and that also only my personal opinion) a highly corrupted system, but more or less harmless and in its death throes.
This may be a topic for another thread, but there is a lot more to take into account when discussing the history of Christianity in addition to this. There is a lot more involved that may put how one views these things in a much different perspective. There is of course the history of Christianity in its founding days of Antiquity in the Roman Empire for starters.
but even if their puppets committing their holy crimes are measurably intelligent, how can they blow themselves up, believing that a lot of virgins wait for them in the afterlife? How can an intelligent person do such a thing, believe such a totally stupid story?
I think there's no easy answer to this one, as to me that is a matter of the heart rather than of the mind. Matters of the human heart are not things that human reasoning alone can reach. There has to be some greater understanding of their emotional, psychological, philosophical, and spiritual state first. I think part of the answer though comes from this statement:
There's a difference in my opinion between measurable intelligence and behaving intelligently. And yes - intelligent != intellectual.
Two things to say about this:

The first is this touches on an important point. I would consider this the difference between intelligence and wisdom. The issue with how we use the word "stupid" is that we often mean it with regards to both intelligence and wisdom. The things you are mentioning above regard wisdom not intelligence. There are other aspects of a person that go into whether or not they do something wise, such as psychology and the person's will. No amount of critical or logical processing will help if your heart is in the wrong place and your premises are completely warped as a result.

On a different note, notice how you say there is a difference between measurable intelligence and behaving intelligently, which I do agree with. However, going back to saying people with lower IQ, which is a measurement of intelligence, are allegedly more "susceptible to religion" so to speak, that's making a statement of judgment on a person even if you do not realize it. It is equating measurable intelligence (or in this case lack of it) with religion. This is why your words seem to be at odds with one another from an outsider's view cause they are coming off the wrong way.
Last edited by RoosterOnAStick on Sat Nov 21, 2015 11:30 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Sat Nov 21, 2015 11:02 pm

Now something you said before was that belief != knowledge. That's interesting, because to me, everyone has beliefs, but having a belief does not mean that one arrived at that belief without any critical thought, questioning, or reflection. I think that is a stereotype rather than a fact.

Faith is simply another form of trust. Everyone puts their trust in things, and putting your faith in something or someone is no different. The question always comes down to why. Why does someone like you or I put their trust in any given thing?

For example, for various fields of human knowledge, we trust that the foundational principles upon which those fields operate on are sound. Many of those principles in my opinion cannot be arrived at from within that field of knowledge itself. In addition, how we interpret those principles depends on our own philosophies and biases. Nevertheless, despite these different interpretations, there is a trust that whatever foundations that a particular field of knowledge is built on is reliable and allows that form of knowledge to function and discover facts. It is good to question and probe how they work, so that you have a deeper understanding of them and in fact it makes your ability to understand things in that field much greater.

Religious belief is no different. When one decides whether to accept or reject a given belief, one would hopefully question why they hold to it and whether there is a good reason to trust it. Remember, like any form of trust, this is never going to be a 100% empirical proof since this is not falsifiable, though you should try to get as close as you can. Are the reasons behind why they trust religion or distrust religion sound? That's the question to ask.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:18 am

I'm still digging into this some more but here's an interesting study from Harvard University that reports that there is a stronger correlation between methods of thinking and processing and religious belief, as opposed to straight up intelligence:

http://www.anth.uconn.edu/degree_progra ... uition.pdf

I'm still looking through other studies, one that makes a much stronger correlation between religious belief and economic well being is of particular interest to me. I'll link it later.

Also, do not forget each of us are of course bringing our own cognitive biases into which studies we prefer to lean on and how we interpret both the studies we cite and the studies that the other one cites. :)

There are definitely facts within these statistical studies that show varying degrees of correlation. What we are discussing now is whether or not there is causation, and if so what. I would of course be coming from the perspective that causation is not necessarily implied because there are simply too many other social, political, economic, cultural, and psychological factors that would be incredibly difficult to fully account for in each country, so in countries where there is a strong correlation (such as here), those factors need to be explored in greater detail.

It is fascinating to explore these factors for sure, but my point is the answer concerning causation is far from simple.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:59 am

emptaI'm going to try to be rather more conciliatory than my previous posts.

The notion that intelligent people aren't religious is an absurd notion. I've said that before and I stand by it. Not only is it demonstrably false, but most people only say things like that as a way of providing themselves with an opportunity to show off how smart and intellectual they think they are. In certain areas of our culture, atheism has sort of become a self-proclaimed badge of enlightenment. "I'm smarter than you because I know better than to believe in God." This is just asinine.

I get why people do that. It's a peer pressure thing. It's to fit in. You want to know why the so-called "Intellectual Elite" eschew religion? Because it's become fashionable. Period. It's a fad. It's like how rich people prove they're rich by buying certain kinds of cars or living in certain kinds of exclusive neighborhoods.

It's a way of showing off. It's demonstrably false, however. Why would someone go out of their way to go amongst a group of Christians just to try and insult them by claiming that religtion and intelligence is incompatible? That act alone is foolish, and compounded by the foolishness of the claim itself.

sdaf, it isn't my intention to insult you, and to the extent that I've done so I ask forgiveness. My friendly advice to you is to talk to people who believe in God. Ask them about it. Open your mind. Learn. You don't have to become a Believer yourself, but I think you have a lot to gain if you understand better why people believe in what they do. Try not to be condescending. You will be amazed at the wisdom you might find.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ArchAngel » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:43 pm

Of course, intelligent people can be religious, and idiots can be atheists. And intelligent people can believe stupid things. And stupid people can believe intelligent things.
The whole question really goes down the wrong path.
I get why people do that. It's a peer pressure thing. It's to fit in. You want to know why the so-called "Intellectual Elite" eschew religion? Because it's become fashionable. Period. It's a fad.
I couldn't disagree more with this. As one who has left the faith on intellectual reasons, this is a gross mischaracterization. It's insulting.

The actual fact of the matter is that religion simply does not make sense anymore.

You can disagree, and I imagine you will, but if you want know why someone left the faith, this is often why.
Not because of some "fad" or peer pressure. Sure, our motivation doesn't sound good on your side, but it's not yours to define. Just because "fad" makes Christianity look better doesn't make it more plausible.

And sure, maybe religion all still makes sense for you guys, and that's really for your motivation. I won't try to characterize religious motivation outside of my own past experience. I don't go around saying people believe in God because they want believe that the world is created around them and they can live forever in a fantasy world.

I grant that the religious are very sincere in their beliefs; is it too much to ask for that base respect in return?
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:35 pm

I couldn't disagree more with this. As one who has left the faith on intellectual reasons, this is a gross mischaracterization. It's insulting.
Broamir, you know I respect you, and what I said there was directed at the preening jerks who do it to try and prove their desire for intellectual superiority. I know what your journey was like, and believe me, you were not who I was thinking of when I wrote that.
The actual fact of the matter is that religion simply does not make sense anymore.
I'd respond to this by saying religion has never been more needed than it is now. 8)
I grant that the religious are very sincere in their beliefs; is it too much to ask for that base respect in return?
I hope I've been able to clarify my position here, because I do extend that respect to you. I know you extend it to us and it is appreciated.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ChickenSoup » Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:30 pm

I'd respond to this by saying religion has never been more needed than it is now.
I would say that more accurately. Christ is needed now as much as he's ever been, and the need for religion and Pharisaical doctrine is needed as little now as it ever was.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:54 pm

Image
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ArchAngel » Thu Dec 10, 2015 5:36 pm

Sorry for the tardy reply again. It's a bit unfair to drop a bomb and run off for a couple weeks.
Broamir, you know I respect you, and what I said there was directed at the preening jerks who do it to try and prove their desire for intellectual superiority. I know what your journey was like, and believe me, you were not who I was thinking of when I wrote that.
I understand and I wasn't taking it personally. I'm making the case that most atheists follow at least a similar pattern to me. Some might not come from religious backgrounds, but it's a position of evidence and not a fad.
I really don't know any that are atheist or agnostic because it's the in or "intellectual" thing to do.
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Re: Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:45 am

I do. Most of the people I hang out with besides Mormons are Agnostic and/or Atheist. Some have had journeys like yours, some are doing it to be fashionable. Some are honestly respectful of those who choose to believe in God, and some put up that respectful front but still occasionally will smugly share some bit of Atheist philosophy that they think will shatter our "religious illusions."

How can you tell the difference? It's easy. The ones who claim you can't be both rational and religious. Any person who makes that claim is almost guaranteed to be riding the fashion wave. People who are genuinely trying to figure out how the Universe works to the best of their ability aren't the ones out there strutting around like a peacock to show how "rational" they are because of their rejection of religion.

If most of the people you know aren't like that then that's great for you. That has not been my experience.
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