believe it or not, the inspiration for this blog post comes from an article on cracked.com, entitled 4 things both atheists and believers need to stop saying.  the author asserts that Atheists in general have a superiority complex, and think of the Religious as simple minded or stupid. 

 

while it may be true that many or even most Atheists tend to lean towards this stance, i wonder about the validity of the premise - not whether or not Atheists think they are smarter, but whether or not Atheists are smarter.  i know that some research has been done on this, but the results are murky and unremarkeable.  there have been studies linking high IQ to a disbelief in God http://freethinker.co.uk/features/atheists-are-more-intelligent-tha...), but i take these with a grain of salt.  it doesn't prove anything.  i think at best all we can do is add up what we know and discuss the information.  so what do we know?

 

1.  indoctrination is hard to break out of

 

or you could use the word brainwashing, no difference.  i don't think that it's a coincidence that many people break away from religion as their brain grows.  the human brain continues to grow into our 30's.  we get smarter, not through accumulation of information, but literally with additional capacity.  as we smarten up, the same traditions, ceremonies, and beliefs start to take on a different meaning.  most religious people have experienced doubts when they start to question things that they've come to accept as fact.  many of these questioners become non-believers as their questions simply grow too large to ignore.  however, the great majority seem to brush off their questions and return to blind faith.  so, the question is why some, and not others?  is this where intelligence comes in?

 

2.  not everyone is smart

 

visit an amusement park on a hot summer day and you surely know this to be true.  about 16% of the general public have IQ's over 115.  i don't know where the line between smart and stupid is, but i would think that 115 seems to differentiate the smart with the less intelligent.  it's obviously coincidence, but most figures show that about 15% of people are Atheist.  but if 84% (or even 60%) of humans are not exactly 'bright', is it that difficult to conclude that they may not have the mental faculties to break free of religious indoctrination?

 

3.  scientists are smart

 

by their very nature, they kind of have to be.  they use complex mathmatical formulas, dig deep into research, understand diverse and difficult concepts, and read ALOT.  as the religious love to point out, scientists are overwhelmingly Atheist.  the connection is almost too obvious to point out. 

 

4.  conversion is a one way street

 

while it occassionally occurs, an Atheist becoming a Christian is nearly impossible.  without knowing every single case where this has happened, it is reasonable to assume that most of this kind of conversion is questionable - did this person REALLY not believe in God?  it's also reasonable to assume that many of those who converted to religion did so out of pressure from family and friends.  on the other hand, religious devotees are turning to Atheism in droves.  thousand of former religious folk leave their religions daily.  the reason is obvious - once you break the spell, you can never fall under it's power again.  if your mind can be freed from religion, there is simply too much evidence against belief.  all it takes are two things:  information and critical thought.  at some point, all believers are exposed to information that should make them question their belief, but only those who possess critical thinking skills can make the leap. 

 

5.  critical thinking is a sign of intelligence

 

on the surface, i'm sure that most people would agree with that statement, although it is not an outright fact.  you can be highly intelligent and not possess critical thinking skills.  but i would argue that is the exception, not the rule. it is essential to becoming an Atheist to put aside blide faith and use your faculities to dismiss what you've been taught.  this is critical thinking, or problem solving if you like.  the problem in question is what to do with the inconsistencies that you encounter when dealing with religion.  i maintain that the less intelligent are not as adept at using their problem solving skills, so when they are presented with incongruities in their religion, they shuck it aside to avoid an unpleasant thought process.  those who are more comfortable in using critical thinking (the more intelligent) will embrace this dichotomy of thought, research, question more, think more, and ultimately make a rational and logical conclusion.  hence, Atheists converting from religion. 

 

6.  freethinkers, rationalists, reason

 

these are the words that describe the Atheist movement.  isn't it funny that even the religious describe Atheists using these words?  look at those words again - the very definition of intelligence is right there!

 

i'm sure i'm just scratching the surface here.  i'd welcome some additional viewpoints, research, and opinions on this topic.  please feel free to share your thoughts. 

 

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Comment by Alice on January 1, 2012 at 12:20am

Glen - I'll look it up - thanks :)

Comment by AtheistTech on December 31, 2011 at 9:21pm

In addition to my comment below, I would like to add this sentence:

And what a person does with information also can illuminate whether the person is being smart or not.

Comment by AtheistTech on December 31, 2011 at 9:18pm

Well, I would like to see if everyone here agrees on the definition of smart. Some people can remember lots of information and that makes them smart. I think that is the best definition. I'll give you two contrast examples to illustrate my point:

1) I kid who ran away at 12 or 13 lived on the streets for years and gained a lot of information on how to survive. Would you consider the kid that excelled in that environment smart?

2) A student completing their second masters degree and getting a prestigious position in a huge company can also be called smart, can't they?

So, if you cannot remember lots of information, you are not so smart.

With my definition, both atheists and theists can be examples of smart and not so smart people.

Comment by Alice on December 31, 2011 at 8:36pm

marx - reminds me of Christmas day when a family member said - "why would I want to hang around here anyhow with a sick body - when I can die and get a new one" - a comment about her reincarnation in the next life - she was just so confident and happy also - sometimes I really wish I could be ignorant and happy.... :)

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on December 31, 2011 at 7:19pm

Alice,

If you can spare an hour or so to listen to the podcast of Chris Cherry you will see what I am talking about.

Comment by Alice on December 31, 2011 at 7:05pm

Glen - I think you are slightly prejudice - as we all are - it would be interesting to see the stats on religion - but I would like to point out that thinking about American as compared with the UK or Australia - American has a lot of Christians - as compared with religiousness in the UK and Australia, and yet America has lots of scientists....  In fact per head of population, it might be that America gives more scientists than the other two, and yet has higher rates of supernatural thinking.... but again, I don't know the stats on that.... :)

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on December 31, 2011 at 3:03pm

Alice, the newest blog by Chris Cherry called My Deconversion Interview on a matter of doubt is quite illuminating. Check the podcast if you have a chance.

 

Comment by Marx on December 31, 2011 at 7:22am

Childhood religious indoctrination (I'm most familiar with the christian form) includes representation of god as a father figure, or protector, a protector with super powers and, more importantly, a protector who will be taking care of you for eternity.  Children who believe their parents will embrace these beliefs deeply into their emotional and intellectual lives.  This security blanket that children of believers carry with them into adulthood, of an eternal, powerful protector, is very difficult to let go of. Then add the promise from god that the believer will have eternal life, sans the troubles and hardships of life on Earth. To discard belief in the christian god portends the loss of eternal life in heaven.  Is it any wonder that it is so difficult for the faithful to abandon their ticket to heaven?

Comment by Alice on December 31, 2011 at 3:26am

Andy - I have some intelligent Christian friends - I do wonder why they continue to believe what they do - but I trust them in normal life things....  I can only think that they are that way due to being fully caused to be so - because it is what works best for them as far as they have gone in their lives so far.... but it doesn't mean that they are less intelligent, just that they are fully caused to be Christian at the moment.

Comment by Alice on December 31, 2011 at 1:19am

Glen et al - I'm interested in understanding more about how growing up in a religious group impacts on our ability to rational thinking...  might start a discussion... 

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