Jump to content

Intelligence and Religious Belief


Daniel Peterson

Recommended Posts

"The world," a poster on another message board has just announced, "is comprised of two classes of people: intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence."

In partial response, I again offer

http://mormonscholarstestify.org/

Obviously, much more could be said (e.g. "Alvin Plantinga," "Dante Alighieri," "Francis Collins," "T. S. Eliot," "Thomas Aquinas," "Sir Isaac Newton," "William Lane Craig," "N. T. Wright," "Richard Swinburne," "Keith Ward," etc., etc., etc., etc.). But http://mormonscholarstestify.org/ will do for now.

If it is then said that intelligence, properly defined, is shown in the very rejection of religion, and that being religious is ipso facto proof that one lacks real intelligence, I reply with

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

Link to comment

While I by no means subscribe to the belief that religious people are less intelligent than non- religious people, I will say I have been very impressed with the intelligence of the atheists where I go to school, and not so impressed with the intelligence of the religious people at my school, not including religious faculty.

Link to comment

I've talked with some downright brilliant atheists, and others who were quite confident in their intelligence but didn't have much to back it up. Maybe we can say some of these latter folks had "intellectually sweet spirits"? :P

Can I steal your term?

Link to comment

If it is then said that intelligence, properly defined, is shown in the very rejection of religion, and that being religious is ipso facto proof that one lacks real intelligence, I reply with

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

Interestingly, this Wikipedia article mentions Antony Flew and his book Thinking About Thinking: Do I Sincerely Want To Be Right?" who was "the world's most notorious atheist," widely heralded as one of the world's great thinkers by atheists. He now believes in God based on many things, including the latest stuff coming from Intelligent Design proponents. Of course, atheists are now saying he's just old and senile.

Link to comment

Of course, atheists are now saying he's just old and senile.

Or maybe he's just hedging his bets.

Bernard

How about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, et al.

Link to comment

Interestingly, this Wikipedia article mentions Antony Flew and his book Thinking About Thinking: Do I Sincerely Want To Be Right?" who was "the world's most notorious atheist," widely heralded as one of the world's great thinkers by atheists. He now believes in God based on many things, including the latest stuff coming from Intelligent Design proponents. Of course, atheists are now saying he's just old and senile.

This fits perfectly with the concept of stages of spirital growth

Antony Flew and mamy other scientific types are at Stage 3. Though it sounds like Anthony finally made it to stage 4

People at stage 2 will appear 'dumber' to stage 3 logical types.

Link to comment

Intelligence might be partially related to religiousness, but I think other factors contribute more.

For example, someone might be really smart but (not) like to upset family traditions - those religious beliefs aren't a matter of intelligence.

Some people question their beliefs more than others, but questioning isn't necessarily intelligence.

Some people may look at Joseph's history, at look at it with either sympathy and see similarities in their own lives, or others might have had the opposite experiences and believe it's incorrect - again, that's not about intelligence directly, it's about what one has experienced.

I don't think it's a matter of intelligence. There's a lot of different kinds of "intelligence". IQ tests just mean you are good at answering the questions like the people who wrote the test expect, and I think IQ is only arbitrary.

To demonstrate the different kinds of intelligence, answer the question, "Does the moon give off its own light?"

If you are intelligent, you would answer "no", because the moon merely reflects light off the sun.

If you were a deep thinker, you might answer "yes", because everything gives off some sort of radiation through spontaneous decay, etc. so necessarily the sun gives off its own light.

If you understood people and a deep thinker, you might answer "no" even if you understood that the moon gives off some radiation on its own - because "no" is the common answer that you would expect, and the amount of light the moon actually would give off would be so insignificantly small compared to light given off even by distant stars.

Point being that each answer is intelligent in a different way. Personality probably affects whether someone is religious more than intelligence alone.

I offer this story by Isaac Asimov:

What is intelligence, anyway?

When I was in the army, I received the kind of aptitude test that all soldiers took and, against a normal of 100, scored 160. No one at the base had ever seen a figure like that, and for two hours they made a big fuss over me.

(It didn't mean anything. The next day I was still a buck private with KP - kitchen police - as my highest duty.)

All my life I've been registering scores like that, so that I have the complacent feeling that I'm highly intelligent, and I expect other people to think so too.

Actually, though, don't such scores simply mean that I am very good at answering the type of academic questions that are considered worthy of answers by people who make up the intelligence tests - people with intellectual bents similar to mine?

For instance, I had an auto-repair man once, who, on these intelligence tests, could not possibly have scored more than 80, by my estimate. I always took it for granted that I was far more intelligent than he was.

Yet, when anything went wrong with my car I hastened to him with it, watched him anxiously as he explored its vitals, and listened to his pronouncements as though they were divine oracles - and he always fixed my car.

Well, then, suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an intelligence test.

Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but an academician. By every one of those tests, I'd prove myself a moron, and I'd be a moron, too.

In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my hands, I would do poorly.

My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters.

Consider my auto-repair man, again.

He had a habit of telling me jokes whenever he saw me.

One time he raised his head from under the automobile hood to say: "Doc, a deaf-and-mute guy went into a hardware store to ask for some nails. He put two fingers together on the counter and made hammering motions with the other hand.

"The clerk brought him a hammer. He shook his head and pointed to the two fingers he was hammering. The clerk brought him nails. He picked out the sizes he wanted, and left. Well, doc, the next guy who came in was a blind man. He wanted scissors. How do you suppose he asked for them?"

Indulgently, I lifted by right hand and made scissoring motions with my first two fingers.

Whereupon my auto-repair man laughed raucously and said, "Why, you dumb jerk, He used his voice and asked for them."

Then he said smugly, "I've been trying that on all my customers today." "Did you catch many?" I asked. "Quite a few," he said, "but I knew for sure I'd catch you."

"Why is that?" I asked. "Because you're so goddamned educated, doc, I knew you couldn't be very smart."

And I have an uneasy feeling he had something there.

Link to comment

"The world," a poster on another message board has just announced, "is comprised of two classes of people: intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence."

In partial response, I again offer

http://mormonscholarstestify.org/

Obviously, much more could be said (e.g. "Alvin Plantinga," "Dante Alighieri," "Francis Collins," "T. S. Eliot," "Thomas Aquinas," "Sir Isaac Newton," "William Lane Craig," "N. T. Wright," "Richard Swinburne," "Keith Ward," etc., etc., etc., etc.). But http://mormonscholarstestify.org/ will do for now.

If it is then said that intelligence, properly defined, is shown in the very rejection of religion, and that being religious is ipso facto proof that one lacks real intelligence, I reply with

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

Dan,

I appreciate your inclusion of some non-LDS intellectuals.

I think the argument from intelligence, for atheism is misguided, but I have heard it before myself. IMO, its a bit of a self declaration of supremacy on their part.

IQ's aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Mudcat

Link to comment

Dan,

I appreciate your inclusion of some non-LDS intellectuals.

I think the argument from intelligence, for atheism is misguided, but I have heard it before myself. IMO, its a bit of a self declaration of supremacy on their part.

IQ's aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Mudcat

In fact that was what danieljbelk's contribution of Isaac Asimov's article on IQ was intended to convey.

I have always been an Asimov fan, and there was a man who was an atheist. Dang smart, yet his auto mechanic, who was half as smart as he, caught him on a silly joke.

The joke question "Who is buried in Grant's tomb?" is funny precisely because even smart people can get caught on it. One of my favorite jokes used to be:

Question: "An airplane crashes on the border between Canada and the US. Where do they bury the survivors?"

Answer: "Well, I don't know. Maybe half in Canada and half in the US?"

Zinger: "What do you mean? You don't bury survivors!"

Link to comment

These stages of faith are ethnocentric and reductionist to the extreme.

The concept of stages of spiritual growth is accepted across theologies.

True, Peck has reduced a highly complex subject to something very simple.

I think it does work as a viable introduction to the concept.

Link to comment

My youngest son's middle name is Thomas.

This is not coincidental.

He was born on the anniversary of the death of St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 March, which was, until 1969, the day on which St. Thomas was commemorated in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.

I admire St. Thomas tremendously.

I'm very surprised! A few ancient posts of yours had me thinking that you disliked anything Thomistic.

Link to comment

Perhaps it might be appropriate to mention Gregory House, the epitome of brilliance, and his staunch atheism.

Isn't House a fictional character playing on the stereotype that brilliant, highly-educated indivdiuals tend to be atheists?

Just like his original - Sherlock Holmes?

Link to comment

"The world," a poster on another message board has just announced, "is comprised of two classes of people: intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence."

If it is then said that intelligence, properly defined, is shown in the very rejection of religion, and that being religious is ipso facto proof that one lacks real intelligence, I reply with

What does "religious" mean, though? If "obedience to human authority" (i.e. man-made religious hierarchies) is what is meant, then certainly intelligent people tend to discard that sort of garbage. On the other hand, if they mean belief in God then they're talking out of their hat, since most of the intelligent people throughout history did believe in God, as do most intelligent people today.

Link to comment
CFR (I'm interested to see more).

Here's a passage from footnote 74 of Daniel C. Peterson, "On the Motif of the Weeping God in Moses 7," in Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., Revelation, Reason, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen (Provo: FARMS, 2002), 285-317:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=100&chapid=1112

Intriguingly, though, Thomas himself seems to have rejected "Thomistic" doctrine at the end of his life. Here is the account given by the eminent Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, in his St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. Joseph W. Evans and Peter O'Reilly (Cleveland: World, 1958), 54: "One day, December 6, 1273, while he was celebrating Mass in the chapel of Saint Nicholas, a great change came over him. From that moment he ceased writing and dictating." When his companion, Reginald of Piperno, complained that there remained much work to be done, Thomas replied, "I can do no more." But the other man pressed the matter. "Reginald," Thomas answered yet again, "I can do no more; such things have been revealed to me that all that I have written seems to me as so much straw." On 7 March 1274 he died, at the age of forty-nine.
Link to comment

"The world," a poster on another message board has just announced, "is comprised of two classes of people: intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence."

In partial response, I again offer

http://mormonscholarstestify.org/

Obviously, much more could be said (e.g. "Alvin Plantinga," "Dante Alighieri," "Francis Collins," "T. S. Eliot," "Thomas Aquinas," "Sir Isaac Newton," "William Lane Craig," "N. T. Wright," "Richard Swinburne," "Keith Ward," etc., etc., etc., etc.). But http://mormonscholarstestify.org/ will do for now.

If it is then said that intelligence, properly defined, is shown in the very rejection of religion, and that being religious is ipso facto proof that one lacks real intelligence, I reply with

http://en.wikipedia....o_true_Scotsman

Actually, I can understand a view in the world of religious people being a bit out of it.

I don't know how many times I would see broadcasts at work, shake my head and say to myself, "no wonder people think Christians are a bunch of idiots". It would tick me off.

Being religious may not be ipso facto proof that one lacks real intelligence, but some of the stuff people believe apparently just because probably qualifies as pretty good proof.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...