Ever since the Huffington Post revealed a study that shows atheists are more intelligent than theists, many atheists have been padding themselves on the back. The idea that this somehow justifies their claims and makes them in the right seems to be a popular way to interpret these results, but as appealing as that conclusion might be, perhaps it’s a bit premature.
In the past month I have made numerous posts criticising atheism. I don’t do that because I think atheism is wrong or because I feel like religion is right, but I do that because, as always, whenever something becomes the dominant way of thinking, it becomes ignorant. Just like certain parts of feminism, some atheists have become precisely that which they have always fought against: closed-minded.
The problem here is that the results of the study aren’t being thought about in a rational manner. They are simply accepted as a form of proof, because after all, if atheists are more intelligent, it must mean that anyone who can think rationally would come to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist. From a social-psychological perspective, however, that is absolute rubbish and way too simplistic.
The truth is that highly intelligent people act different from less intelligent people. They are more likely to be critical, more likely to fight existing beliefs and values and more likely to inspire progress, in whichever direction that might be. Whether we’re talking about Aristotle, Einstein or Hitler, they were all extremely intelligent and fit that description perfectly.
Keeping that in mind and adding the fact that religion used to be the dominant way of thinking in basically every society, it only makes sense that the intelligent people in society were the first to criticise it. Religion had developed flaws, and just like in every other time, the brighter minds decided that an alternative was needed to get rid of those flaws. That alternative was atheism.
But there are many more reasons why intelligent people were the first to embrace this alternative. For example, intelligent people are more likely to be interested in science. Things that go right over someone’s head if they are less intelligent are extremely appealing to the brighter minds in society, and since religion has, in common belief, turned into some kind of opposite of science, it only makes sense that those with higher intelligence might be more inclined to reject it. After all, science has taught us that the earth is billions of years old, so it seems likely that the Bible at least wasn’t right about everything.
Still, that doesn’t mean that there is no God. One of the main characteristics of mankind, intelligent or not, is that we have always been wrong about pretty much everything. Just take those extremely famous and brilliant people I mentioned above: all three of them turned out to be wrong about a lot of things, and in Aristotle’s case, even about almost everything he said. So even if many intelligent people believe that there is no God, we cannot ever be sure, because there is no reliable scientific evidence. Science is not an aristocracy where clever people get to vote about facts.
Ultimately, if we truly want to be open-minded, we have to look at these findings from every angle. We cannot just analyse it from one perspective and come to a rapid conclusion without considering other explanations. Of course, it makes sense that many atheists, especially those who have been disappointed by religion in their personal past, are prone to take any chance they get to disprove religion, but it doesn’t work that way. The fact of the matter is that no matter how badly you might want it, God just cannot be disproved at this point in time, especially not by the obvious discovery that atheists are more intelligent than theists.
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