And the dolts shall lead …

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I don’t think the devoutly religious are dumb or stupid or, well, anything. It’s a large group composed of myriad sorts.

What I do think is that, if you rank Americans on intelligence, the brightest among us (and I’m definitely not including myself on this list) are not regular church/synagogue/mosque attendees. Why? Because the intellectuals don’t want to be told, “Just have faith, and everything will be OK.” They want to think things through; they want to work problems out; they want to dig beneath the surface. Just because an old man in a robe says, “God is mighty” doesn’t necessarily mean God is mighty. Or God is great. Or God, ahem, even exists. And just because an ancient book tells us how to behave doesn’t mean we should actually listen to it. At least that’s how it seems to go.

I bring this up because Science magazine recently obtained the (hidden) details of the most recent National Science Foundation report, Science and Engineering Indicators, which comes out every other year. This link is a great source for the thickest details of the report and its meaning, but here’s what struck me: When presented with the statement “human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,” a mere 45 percent of polled Americans indicated “true.” Compare that to Japan (78), Europe (70), China (69) and South Korea (64)—and we are really, really, really naive/dumb/in denial. Hell, only 33 percent of our citizens believe “the universe began with a big explosion.”

As Lawrence M. Krauss wrote: “I don’t know which is more dangerous, that religious beliefs force some people to choose between knowledge and myth or that pointing out how religion can purvey ignorance is taboo. To do so risks being branded as intolerant of religion.”

The thing that bothers me is it’s the 67 percent of Americans who think we’re the offspring of angels who are calling many of the shots. They’re the ones creating the text books in Texas; the ones leaning toward demolition of the 14th amendment; the ones wanting to shove God down our throats in all public means.

Again—faith, fine. Organized religion—sorta scary.

12 thoughts on “And the dolts shall lead …”

  1. “Math, science, history, unravelling the mysteries that all started with a big bang!” It’s right in the theme song of a semi-popular network sitcom, people.

    Come to Canada, Jeff, we could use the Pearlmans. New York City is still driving distance from Toronto.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    I’m afraid you’ve hardly done justice with your argument. Its not fair to lump everything together as “organized religion”. Although many religions may be superficially the same, they are all fundamentally different. And I disagree your statement of “if you rank Americans on intelligence, the brightest among us (and I’m definitely not including myself on this list) are not regular church/synagogue/mosque attendees. Why? Because the intellectuals don’t want to be told, “Just have faith, and everything will be OK.” What about Frances Collins? Or John Lennox? Or Ravi Zacharias? If you did your research it is exactly the opposite. Some of the most bright individuals follow organized religion. But honestly, why should I even bother? The denial of organized religion is not an intellectual issue. Its a moral issue. You don’t like the idea of submitting to a higher authority.

  3. Steve,

    No I didn’t prove Jeff’s point. There are plenty of intellectual arguments as to the existence to God, but people who deny God don’t need intellectual reasons. They deny God because of not wanting to follow a moral code, or submit to a higher authority. So you just misunderstood my point.

  4. At least people of faith are honest and admit what they believe in is a faith system.
    Scientists like to claim that evolution and the big bang are fact. The only fact is these ideas are also a belief system. There is no proof of evolution or of a big BOOM. Those that believe in it believe in it by faith.
    By the way what did boom? Where did it come from?
    Evolution requires that everything developed from something else. The law of Common Descent. By that very law of evolution, evolution is impossible.
    Things with physical substance require building blocks.
    Life itself, in the very simplest form, requires the division of a cell.
    It is not possible for even an atom to come from absolute nothingness.

    I was an atheist. I was raised in a non religious home. My father was an agnostic, my mother was never open about her beliefs but believed that God could be worshiped anywhere. We didn’t go to church. I never came to faith because of some guy in a robe, or sweater, or any other outfit. I came to faith because I wanted to know truth.
    Why do I believe? To play on your words:
    I wanted to think things through; I want to work problems out; I wanted to dig beneath the surface. Just because an old school teacher with the power to fail me says, “Science is mighty” doesn’t necessarily mean Science is mighty. Or true.
    I may not be the smartest man on the planet but even I know you can’t evolve a universe out of NOTHINGNESS.

  5. Jeff, are these the same intellectual giants that think a minute (85 parts per million) fluxuation in carbon dioxide, not solar activity, causes drastic change the the temperature of the earth simply because the high priest of man made global warming (Gore)tells them so? Talk about blind faith, you’re as gullible as anybody.

  6. “You don’t like the idea of submitting to a higher authority.”

    This is the biggest load of shit. It’s a common refrain from religious people about why non-religious people don’t believe or practice.

    As an atheist, I would have no problem submitting to a higher authority if there was any evidence that this “higher authority” actually existed. And even if someone could prove that a “god” existed, they would then have to prove which god does indeed exist. Is it Yahweh, Hashem, Allah, Thor, Zeus, Ra, or any other of the hundreds of gods who have come and gone?

    Then, even if you could prove that god exists, and even if you could prove which one it is, then you would STILL have to prove that this God wanted to give us a “moral code.” Then you would have to prove that this moral code was actually given to us, and then you would have to prove which moral code (for there are many) is that actual right one.

    And it goes on and on.

    So, if you want to claim that non-religious people “just don’t want to submit to a higher authority or follow a moral code,” that’s bullshit. It’s this simple:

    Claiming that a god exists, and that he has a desire to control our actions, and that he has told this to us—all of these things are claims about reality. Claims about reality must be supported by evidence. If there is no evidence, we should not believe it. It has nothing to do with the desire to submit oneself to someone or something else. I simply reject the claims because they lack sufficient, or in most cases *any*, evidence.

    And this has direct and serious consequences for scientific inquiry and progress. Believing in things without evidence (gods, moral codes, ghosts, aliens, bigfoot) causes people to undervalue legitimate evidence—like the evidence for evolution. That’s why people don’t think it happened; their system for judging truth from fiction is rigged.

    There have been at least two reported cases of parents refusing medical treatment for their children, only to have those children die horrible deaths over the course of months. Why did they deny the medical treatment? Because they “submitted themselves to a higher authority” and believed their Christian God would save their children. He didn’t.

    In sum, you’re wrong.

  7. Nate…you are a moron.

    “They deny God because of not wanting to follow a moral code, or submit to a higher authority.”

    I don’t need to accept God to know the difference between right and wrong and to live by a moral code.

    I can figure that out on my own, and I have.

    It’s wrong to deny others the right to pursue happiness via marriage…do you believe gay people should be permitted to marry? Or does your God tell you it’s wrong?

    I believe it’s wrong for adults to have sex with children. How does YOUR god feel about that?

  8. Hmm, Nate opts to choose 3 really smart/creative people in all of recent history who happened to be religious, and he still can’t even do that right. John Lennon – “god is a concept by which we measure our pain…. I don’t believe in Jesus”, great choice to represent the religious geniuses!

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