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Stupid People Being Suckered in by Religion: Negative Correlation With Intelligence

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    #76
    Originally posted by AeroChick
    show that there are plenty of reasonable people who manage to believe in evolution and God at the same time.
    That's called Cognitive Dissonance. Basically, it's holding 2 contradictory views and accepting them both as true. It's a symptom of insanity.

    To paraphrase Dawkins, creative intelligence shows up later in the evolutionary process, so no designer. If you accept evolutionary theory as true, then you can not believe it was designed without being cognitively dissonant.

    There is far more evidence supporting evolution than any type of supernatural being.

    It's not about fanaticism. There are plenty on all sides. It's about what's provable, and what's not. Like I said, you're not the first to make the same arguement. I'm not the first to punch holes in it either.

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      #77
      Originally posted by indy007
      a bunch of people have made your exact same arguement, and even worse, as using pseudoscience to try and bring it into our kid's classrooms. shennanigans.
      Her non belief is exactly 100% as rational as your belief. Neither of you has any actual knowledge about god on which to base an opinion. And she is not advocating bringing her beliefs in to the classroom as science, so leave that red herring at the door.

      My favorite thing about strong atheists is their unshakeable faith that a bunch of hairless apeas are actually capable of figuring all this shit out. In spite of the obvious (devil in the demographics, good term) ways that their superior rationality is just another hairless ape tribal game.

      Comment


        #78
        Originally posted by Bahuyuddha
        I have been reading brief summaries of what Richard Dawkins has said (on Wikipedia, because I am too lazy to buy one of his books and read it), and most of what he has to say is pretty interesting. However, what bothers me is the fanaticism with which he says it. It sounds like fanatical religious belief (I know that others have pointed this out already).
        Although he is definitely passionate about it, and 'zeal', however distasteful the word in general, may be appropriate, I think your views are intensely skewed by your choice of source material. Of course summaries and quote collections will prefer the more intense material over the more nuanced.

        But what it makes me think of is that not even the poster child for atheism is free of faniticism. Belief in some dogmatic system is inherent to organized human societies, be it Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, or Atheism.
        Oh, I see. Tell me, what's the atheist dogma? I'm an atheist, you see, and I'd very much like to know. What's the holy (?) book of atheism, in which I am expected to dogmatically believe?

        We didn't start seeing evidence of ritual burials until around the time that we see evidence for organized societies (I think I read this in Jarod Diamond's book, "Guns, Germs, and Steel"). What is strange to me is that we see some form of religious belief in all organized societies today. I can't think of a single one that lacks it. This leads me to believe that we evolved to have the capacity and predisposition for religion in much the same way that we evolved the capacity for language (and for similar reasons). I think that religion served the purpose of providing a structured moral system shared by all members of a society, guiding their actions in the absence of a government powerful enough to enforce law universally.
        "It was the best solution back then", even if true, is not therefore an argument that it's necessarily the best solution now, let alone that it is a good thing. This thread, provocatively formulated as it may be (and I would never agree that religious people are necessarily stupid!), deals with the intellectual not the moral merits of religion. Is it true? Does it stand up to scrutiny?

        I am guessing that there probably were early pre-historic societies that were not religious, and they probably never became stable, unified forces through war and social depravity. Because while they similarly lacked a strong government, they also lacked a dogmatic system to gude the behavior of their members. This allowed them to be out-competed by societies that were more stable due to a population that adhered to accepted set of rules, and whose members policed themselves essentially, because the majority of them were for lack of a better word, fanatical about everyone also believing and following the religion's moral guidelines.
        You start with a guess and draw inferences from it, implying that atheism carries with it war and depravity. It's readily apparent that war can easily flow from religion (or any other dogma immune to critical scrutiny), as well as many other causes; no need to postulate atheism as a cause thereof -- and for that matter, humanity has flourished, after its fashion, in spite of war. And what on Earth is 'depravity', anyway? --Divorced from religious notions of sin, that is.

        All that aside, I strongly doubt whether there were ever a truly primitive human society free of superstition (whether that superstition manifested as monotheism or animism). Humans are too inquisitive but were too ignorant, and we are far too ready to infer the presents of agents where there are none -- what Dawkins, by the way, has called 'rampant teleology'.

        Hell, if guesswork is going to the basis of our argument, my personal guess is that superstition is as old as culture and need not have arisen separately in primitive human societies. But that's a guess and I shall try to avoid drawing too many inferences from it!

        So what does this mean for today, now that we have strong government that can enforce our laws? Religion may be a holdover from our distant past, but it is not completely vestigial. There are plenty of situations where law enforcement can not prevent people from doing terrible things, and we rely on "common decency" (which varies quite a bit from culture to culture), accepted by all members of a society (to varying degrees today). I believe that religion is part of what indoctrinates common decency into our population.
        What leads you to think that religious people examplify 'common decency' in greater degrees than atheists?

        Originally posted by AeroChick
        I hesitate to wade in on this one, although I am enjoying the debate immensely. I am afraid that I haven't read any of the books you are quoting, I can only try to clarifiy from my own experience. So here goes....

        I am an engineer (which puts me in the scientfically-minded, generally intelligent catagory), but I also believe in God. I was raised Catholic, but also taught to think for myself, and if I had to catagorize my current beliefs, they are definitely more United than Catholic at this point.
        I want to preface my rebuttals with a reiteration of the fact that I do not think you are an idiot for believing in your god. I think you're wrong, mind you, but even very intelligent people are sometimes wrong. In fact, both of the famous and very intelligent physicists you invoke have been wrong! Einstein was wrong about quantum physics; Hawking was wrong (and admitted he was wrong) about black holes. In other words, these guys were wrong about things fundamentally important to their own areas of expertise -- yet I doubt any serious person can therefore infer that they weren't intelligent.

        So, how can a scientist believe in God? Many do. My personal beliefs tend to run close to what Einstein noticed - that there is so much complexity and beauty in the universe, it's hard to believe that there was no guiding force there.
        And yet Einstein repeatedly denounced the idea of a personal deity, and stated outright that morality must be centered on humans, not on the notion of some supernatural force. Some -- Dawkins, for instance -- flatly assert that Einstein was simply no theist; it's certainly the case that, after he moved to America, he got a lot of ugly hate mail denouncing his perceived atheism and insisting that he either embrace God or go back to Germany. Personally, I think it's very difficult to tell, although I consider it entirely plausible that he was (what we would consider) an atheist.

        One problem is that our language, having been formed in religious cultures, is steeped in religious imagery, and it's sometimes difficult to express yourself without it. I am definitely an atheist, and yet I occasionally use "God damn it!" instead of "Fuck!"; I may even very occasionally let out a "Thank god" to express relief at circumstances turning out fortuitously when there is no actual agent to thank for it.

        Consider, for that matter, Stephen Hawking's language, very rich indeed in god-references -- and yet in A Brief History of Time he postulates that (to paraphrase) perhaps God had absolutely no choice in how to design the universe; in other words, his God of metaphor and analogy is not a free agent, but bound by deterministic forces. (More, even, than humans? I don't know what Hawking thinks of determinism.)

        Be all that as it may -- even if the two were deeply religious (which I doubt), they could still be wrong, especially if they arrived at that religion not by application of their prodigous intellects, but by some process of 'faith'. Faith, after all, never rests on reason (if it did, we wouldn't have to call it faith); indeed it is often hostile to reason, as is evident in the many religious people who explicitly value faith higher. Martin Luther called reason the "harlot of the Devil" and denounced it as inherently hostile to religion. Does it matter how intelligent a believer is, if he does not apply his intelligence to his beliefs?

        And that is precisely the sort of thing that allows religion to persist -- that it avoids reason; refuses to face up to it. Extremely intelligent people, otherwise skeptical of suspect claims and fully prepared to bring their finely honed critical thinking down on Chi masters, psychics, homeopaths, and Ashida Kim, simply don't or won't apply that critical thinking to their faith. Why not? Why shouldn't you? And what would happen if you did?

        My personal spirituality deepened when I was expecting my first child - a process so complex that it turns two tiny cells into a unique, fully functional human being in only 9 months - it boggles the mind. The dividing of cells, the development of organs, how each of the billions of cells somehow develops it's own special functions that together create a human being - I stand in awe of this, and I cannot fathom the method for it's creation. That is God to me.
        Why does it require a supernatural explanation? This is the old God of the Gaps story. A few thousand years ago we couldn't fathom whence came rain, or whence lightning, or how the sun could shine and rise (as we thought) every day. Now we understand processes of evaporation and precipitation, ionised clouds, and the titanic nuclear fireballs that are the stars, so we needn't postulate divine interference for those -- but we keep the old explanation, even when the old questions that it answered went away! Perversely (in the literal sense), the question is discarded and new questions are sought in order to keep a place for the answers.

        In other words: If you were a brilliant biologist specialising in evo-devo, and you had a deep understanding (as deep, perhaps, as current biology can give you? Biology twenty years from now?) and you understood how mitosis and meiosis really operate, how the developmental processes have evolved and now operate -- do you think you would still need to postulate a divine entity that 'created' it?

        I don't 'KNOW' anything because of what I am told, by anybody. I simply feel God in the world around me, in the beautiful complexity of the universe, in the systems that drive everything from growing flowers to moving stars.
        However, as a person with a background in science, you know how much credibility to assign to personal experience and anecdotal evidence.

        Do I seem irrational to you? Un-intelligent? Easily lead? Spouting dogma? That is how some posters on this thread characterize people who believe in God. I challenge that - it is quite possible to believe in God and still be an intelligent, rational person, as hopefully I have demonstrated.
        Well, I think you're yet another blip on my graph that falls in the area of 'religious, but to all appearances otherwise rational and intelligent'. I think in the last section you pretty clearly stated (or admitted) that your rationality and intelligence are not operating in the context of your faith, even though they may be in all other areas of your life where you can apply them.

        Why is this?
        Last edited by Petter; 10/30/2007 11:02am, . Reason: Fixed formatting

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          #79
          Originally posted by HappyOldGuy
          My favorite thing about strong atheists is their unshakeable faith that a bunch of hairless apeas are actually capable of figuring all this shit out. In spite of the obvious (devil in the demographics, good term) ways that their superior rationality is just another hairless ape tribal game.
          Not faith, but simply an assertion: "Unless you can help me find a better way of figuring things out, that jives better with reality, this is how I shall operate: With reason."

          Of course we do not ultimately have an absolute guarantee that reason works (although I've never seen much of an argument why it wouldn't, perhaps because arguments have to rely on reason in order to work). However, relying on faith and personal feeling demonstrably tends to lead to the wrong results (weakness of anecdotal evidence, conflicting faiths, mutually exclusive, etc. etc. dead horse). We may not have the perfect answer (or perhaps we do), but at least we do not cling to a model known to be fundamentally flawed.

          Comment


            #80
            Originally posted by AeroChick
            So, how can a scientist believe in God? Many do. My personal beliefs tend to run close to what Einstein noticed - that there is so much complexity and beauty in the universe, it's hard to believe that there was no guiding force there. My personal spirituality deepened when I was expecting my first child - a process so complex that it turns two tiny cells into a unique, fully functional human being in only 9 months - it boggles the mind. The dividing of cells, the development of organs, how each of the billions of cells somehow develops it's own special functions that together create a human being - I stand in awe of this, and I cannot fathom the method for it's creation. That is God to me.

            Do I seem irrational to you? Un-intelligent? Easily lead? Spouting dogma? That is how some posters on this thread characterize people who believe in God. I challenge that - it is quite possible to believe in God and still be an intelligent, rational person, as hopefully I have demonstrated.
            For reasons a little beyond me, I've read a good deal about Einstein's religiosity, so I'd like to weigh in on that. First and foremost, Einstein hated being called an atheist and being used as an argument for atheism, so I will try to steer clear of both of those things. However, Einstein's concept of God was pantheistic, and in no way a personal God that could be prayed to or got involved with worldly affairs, including the creation of the world. It was not even a deistic "first cause".

            Einstein's God was far more of a revelry for nature. For some reason (which I don't really understand), he thought that science took the awe out of things, but clearly he had not met Carl Sagan, so that might be excusable. Einstein was in awe of the way things seemed ordered and how it seemed (to him) that it might be possible to understand the big picture. He struggled on grand unification because of this pseudo-religion, and that quantum physics (new at the time) had so much to do with random chance, and it violated the idea of being able to know "The mind of God." or understand the workings of nature through the patterns within it.

            That being said I don't think your views are really aligned with Einstein's, though you do sound quite liberal in your religiosity. It's a whole other can of worms to discuss what constitutes harmful faith, but I think most anti-religious people don't really care about people with vague spirituality. Again, I don't want to open this up since it's already a complicated thread as is, but it's been said that moderates give credence to extremists. Just a bit of food for thought.

            Philosophically the objection I have to faith, even of your kind, is that (to me it seems) it's just not true. I am borderline fanatical about the truth, and it irks me to see someone distort the nature of reality. That is a personal issue more than anything though.

            You don't sound stupid in the least, perhaps a bit irrational, but that's called compartmentalization, and some of the greatest minds in history are guilty of that.

            Comment


              #81
              Originally posted by HappyOldGuy
              Her non belief is exactly 100% as rational as your belief. Neither of you has any actual knowledge about god on which to base an opinion. And she is not advocating bringing her beliefs in to the classroom as science, so leave that red herring at the door.
              You're already assuming the existence of an unprovable, supernatural being, which all gatherable evidence strongly suggests does not exist. If you were to make it fuzzy logic, the non-existence would be .99, and the existence .01 (being generous). You're saying that the acceptance of the .01 is as equally rational and valid as the acceptance of the .99.

              I just gotta disagree with that.

              The arguement that humans are too stupid to figure it out is ridiculous, and a poor cop-out. The sun used to orbit the Earth. The world used to be flat. The world used to only be a few thousand years old. Now we regularly send people into space, use telescopes to look back into time, and are in route to building computers with more processing power than the human brain. Not bad for some hairless apes.

              Comment


                #82
                Originally posted by indy007
                The arguement that humans are too stupid to figure it out is ridiculous, and a poor cop-out. The sun used to orbit the Earth. The world used to be flat. The world used to only be a few thousand years old. Now we regularly send people into space, use telescopes to look back into time, and are in route to building computers with more processing power than the human brain. Not bad for some hairless apes.
                Sure - billions of people on this planet are dying of poverty, disease, war, and climate change while a few percent live in luxury. Yeah, we've got it all figured out. I'll take God over hairless apes any day, if the current state of the world is what we are basing this on.

                Comment


                  #83
                  Oh, just for the record, I will put down my opinion on the original topic of the thread. I do think that there is a causal relationship between low intelligence and religion, not because I think that religious people are necessarily unintelligent (I hope I have made it both clear and persuasive that I do not), but because people with low intelligence are less likely to spot the problems and fallacies in whatever superstitions they are exposed to even if they do attempt to use their critical faculties.

                  It is certainly not the case that atheism is necessarily a hallmark of any intelligence whatsoever: You can (in principle at least) adhere to atheism as a dogmatic position (though I do not know of anyone who does), and you can arrive at any position, true or false, through a process of faulty reasoning or by starting from erroneous premises. In highly religious societies it is probably the case that atheism is more strongly correlated with intelligence because it requires breaking away from the intellectual status quo and arriving at a new position.

                  "More strongly" does not necessarily mean "very strongly at all".

                  Comment


                    #84
                    Anyway, it wasn't that long ago that science was all about bleeding people to remove the ill humors from the body and prescribing cocaine and heroine to help mentally ill people. So please don't try and sell me on the fact that t3h sci3nce has all the answers.

                    Comment


                      #85
                      Originally posted by AeroChick
                      Sure - billions of people on this planet are dying of poverty, disease, war, and climate change while a few percent live in luxury. Yeah, we've got it all figured out. I'll take God over hairless apes any day, if the current state of the world is what we are basing this on.
                      He was speaking of the current level of knowledge, not the current level of goodness or fairness. To think that because something seems nicer it should therefore be preferred as truth is wishful thinking. I think it'd be really neat if the moon were made of cheese...

                      Comment


                        #86
                        Originally posted by jubei33
                        When you speak of evolving religious capacity, are you speaking in a darwinian sense?
                        I would disagree with that point. And raise you one "what is a trait?" Things like language, writing and art are all passed down from generation to generation, but not by genetic inheritance. Trading ideas, skills, etc are all passed down at a faster rate and are more Lamarkian in nature. If I take you to church, we don't have to wait until your kids to find out if the ideas were passed on.

                        I also take issue with some points of dawkins etal. arguments. As most of their arguments are strictly adaptationist. A lot of has become the search for a plausible anecdote to describe what is happening. Good stories aren't always the best part of the truth.
                        Well, the specifics of each different language are passed on from generation to generation, but we have evolved the mental capacity for language. This is evident from the fact that we are the only known species that is able to communicate abstract concepts to other individuals verbally. We have tried to teach chimpanzees to speak (with sign language), but they were never able to learn grammar.

                        I will have to think about Petter's comments some more before responding. He makes some good points, but I think that my post was not very well worded, so I don't think we are talking about the same issue.

                        Comment


                          #87
                          Originally posted by indy007
                          You're already assuming the existence of an unprovable, supernatural being, which all gatherable evidence strongly suggests does not exist. If you were to make it fuzzy logic, the non-existence would be .99, and the existence .01 (being generous). You're saying that the acceptance of the .01 is as equally rational and valid as the acceptance of the .99.

                          I just gotta disagree with that.

                          The arguement that humans are too stupid to figure it out is ridiculous, and a poor cop-out. The sun used to orbit the Earth. The world used to be flat. The world used to only be a few thousand years old. Now we regularly send people into space, use telescopes to look back into time, and are in route to building computers with more processing power than the human brain. Not bad for some hairless apes.
                          Lack of evidence proves nothing. Ever. Basic logic. You find it more credible to assume non existence. That's fine. So do I. The amusing thing for people who study sociology or psychology of religion is the ways in which your non belief operates in exactly the same ways that religious belief does. Your unrational faith in rationality (and progress) replaces the religious persons faith in the divine, and your hostility towards religion binds you tighter to your self identification and group identifications the same way that emnity always makes us hairless apes wanna hug our tribemates.

                          Comment


                            #88
                            Originally posted by Vince Tortelli
                            Anyway, it wasn't that long ago that science was all about bleeding people to remove the ill humors from the body and prescribing cocaine and heroine to help mentally ill people. So please don't try and sell me on the fact that t3h sci3nce has all the answers.
                            That's (bad) medicine, not science; it may also have been thought of as scientific at the time, but that does not mean that they actually had solid bodies of evidence and proper hypotheses, theories, etc. to back up those treatments. Today we call such things 'pseudo-science' and afford them no respect at all. The modern scientific method is designed, as best as we are able to formulate it, to be resilient to personal agendas and errors. It is often wrong, but it is self-correcting, and it is in the general nature of scientific inquiry not to take wild stabs that may or may not be totally and utterly wrong, but to gradually correct and refine theories and achieve better and better results -- as measured by objective observations, verified predictions, etc.

                            Comment


                              #89
                              Originally posted by Petter
                              He was speaking of the current level of knowledge, not the current level of goodness or fairness. To think that because something seems nicer it should therefore be preferred as truth is wishful thinking. I think it'd be really neat if the moon were made of cheese...
                              What good is knowledge if it's not used to benefit the 'tribe'? That is something religion has always demanded (Christianity, anyways) - the concept of using your skills and resources to the benefit of others.

                              Anyways, that's a bit of an unintended de-rail.

                              Comment


                                #90
                                Originally posted by AeroChick
                                What good is knowledge if it's not used to benefit the 'tribe'? That is something religion has always demanded (Christianity, anyways) - the concept of using your skills and resources to the benefit of others.

                                Anyways, that's a bit of an unintended de-rail.
                                I'll derail with you! These threads always acqiure something of a train wreck aspect, anyway.

                                I think in debates such as this, the theist side tends to confuse truth with values -- if you go by religion, after all, they tend to come in a package. To an atheist, this is not so. This is what gives rise to idiotic misconceptions such as "You believe in evolution; you must therefore believe in Social Darwinism, you evil, ruthless bastard!" Rational people (whether religious or not) know that "You can't get an 'ought' from an 'is'", and acknowledging that evolution happened doesn't mean that we therefore think that ruthless natural selection is good. (I'm not putting creationist words in your mouth, merely illustrating the is/ought problem.)

                                (On a further de-rail, I think this ties in with a deeper confusion that 'natural' somehow means 'good'. Bullshit. For example, I don't know or care whether homosexuality is genetic; even if it were entirely by choice, gays don't hurt anyone and so it's not bad simply because it's 'unnatural' -- the lunacy of the latter notion in the face of non-human homosexuality observed in nature aside.)

                                The only way in which science should really affect policy is in helping to define a platform -- a view of reality -- on which to base moral and policy decisions. For instance, knowing whether Huitzilopochtli is likely to be real or not tells us whether it makes sense to sacrifice people to him; evaluating whether there is likely to be any deity out there may give us a basis on which to stand when we decide whether our morality should be focused on the well-being of humans or on how much it pleases a supreme being. In other words, accurate knowledge can help us avoid making the wrong decisions due to erroneous premises.

                                On the other hand, science doesn't come with an ideology; just a process for evaluating whether objective claims are true or not, and how accurate these evaluations are. Is it fair to judge the modern skeptic/atheist/humanist based on where we stand today, given the progress of science and society? Frankly, I am dubious: We do not, after all, live in a secular world society. There are and have been some secular societies (the communist regimes, yes, I know -- dead horse again -- which did not particularly promote free thought, freedom, and inquiry, but also places like Scandinavia, not generally a model of depravity or oppression).

                                A truly good society, if you ask me, needs most of all a good ideology, but a truly good ideology should be based on reality, not fantasy. If we postulate a supreme being it is all too tempting to infer that said being's wishes should trump our own, and it's not that far from here to Nicaragua.

                                To answer your question directly: "What good is knowledge if it's not used to benefit the 'tribe'?" Clearly, by definition, none. But in order to use knowledge to benefit the tribe, we first need to acquire knowledge, and I see no reason to suppose that false knowledge should be better suited for tribal use than real knowledge; only the problem that false premises may be used to reach arbitrary conclusions.

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