Inoculations Against Religiosity: Intelligence and Education

Anti-religion vaccines: intelligence and education

Posted May 14, 2009

I realize that this post might offend some religious people. This is not my intention. Rather, I am here to report some scientific findings, which in so doing might indeed ruffle some religious feathers. Several years ago, James Watson, a Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, along with E. O. Wilson, the two-time Pulitzer prize winner and world-renowned Harvard entomologist, were the guests on the Charlie Rose Show. They were discussing the importance of Charles Darwin and evolutionary theory in the pantheon of human thought. At one point, the discussion turned to religion wherein Charlie Rose asked the two scientists whether they knew many scientists who believed in a personal God. After a befuddled pause at such a question, both luminaries were able to come up with only one name (Francis Collins). I ask you to stop and ponder this response: These two giants of 20th century science were together able to think of only one scientist who believed in God. Sarah Palin believes in a personal God. Who do you think is right?

Scientists have explored the relationship between intelligence and religiosity, as well as between education level attained and religiosity for many decades (see the following article that summarizes some of the relevant research). Unfortunately, for religious folks, the news is not good. IQ and religiosity are negatively correlated, at both the individual as well as national levels. Religiosity and educational attainment are also negatively correlated. Amongst the educated classes, professors are the least likely to be religious, and finally within the academe, the more eminent the professor is, the less he/she is likely to be religious. The evidence could not be any clearer. Please bear in mind that providing an instance wherein your uncle Joe is a physicist who is also a devout Christian does not falsify the latter evidence (see my previous post on using singular exemplars to attempt to falsify phenomena that hold true at the population level).

Religion requires that one suspend rational thought and instead take the proverbial leap of faith. Hence, that which is considered a hallmark of intelligence namely the ability to arrive at veridical conclusions based on the presented evidence is denigrated as irrelevant when it comes to swallowing whole religious narratives. It would seem that God is one hell of a trickster as he has apparently endowed us with the most complex computational system known to mankind (our brain) and then has asked that we refrain from using it, as per His narcissistic edict to believe in Him. The bottom line is that God is striking the following deal with us: "If you truly believe in me, I command you to refrain from using the brain that I have given you. Accept me by rejecting your brain."

God, I have prayed to you repeatedly to land me in the Promised Land (Southern California). Why have you not answered my prayers? I suppose that God is able to distinguish between those who truly believe and the atheists masquerading as believers. He is omnipotent after all.

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