Home » Atheism, News, Religion » Fearless scholar Frank Furedi takes on claims that religious people are less intelligent than atheists

Fearless scholar Frank Furedi takes on claims that religious people are less intelligent than atheists

An atheist himself, Furedi tends to skewer political correctness of all kinds. One skewer here:

At most, this analysis shows that because smart people spend more time in education and because universities tend to be secular institutions, they will produce proportionally more atheists.

Secularism and atheism are part of the cultural script of higher education, to which a significant minority readily conform.

Smart kids who don’t go to university are more likely to retain their religious affiliation because they are expected to conform to different values. And secular researchers are likely to discover what they already suspect, which is a correlation between their values and high levels of intelligence.

What interests me is why do people embark on a project that seeks to determine the relationship between intelligence and religious belief.

Hmmm.

Well, why do people with similar interests threaten violence over a scheduled banknote replacement?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

10 Responses to Fearless scholar Frank Furedi takes on claims that religious people are less intelligent than atheists

  1. I have no idea what type of intelligence tests were used to ascertain whether Atheists are more intelligent than everyone else or not (definitely not an emotional intelligence test as is witnessed by the bank note fiasco), but seeing as atheists deny they even have a mind in the first place, then I have no choice but to conclude that atheists have literally ‘lost their minds’ in their beliefs. Especially considering the fact that the most sure thing, most concrete thing, we can know for certain about reality is that we do indeed have a mind:

    “Descartes remarks that he can continue to doubt whether he has a body; after all, he only believes he has a body as a result of his perceptual experiences, and so the demon could be deceiving him about this. But he cannot doubt that he has a mind, i.e. that he thinks. So he knows he exists even though he doesn’t know whether or not he has a body.”
    http://cw.routledge.com/textbo.....ualism.pdf

    Decartes’ semi-famous ‘I think therefore I am’ philosophical dictum has, ironically, found purchase in modern cosmology:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale. For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Moreover, to deny that one has a mind is undermine the very ability of a person to reason coherently in the first place:

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    If you disagree with C.S. Lewis on this conclusion, here are some atheists who have reached the same exact conclusion as Lewis as to the epistemological failure inherent within atheism/materialism:

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

    Evolutionists Are Now Saying Their Thinking is Flawed (But Evolution is Still a Fact) – Cornelius Hunter – May 2012
    Excerpt: But the point here is that these “researchers” are making an assertion (human reasoning evolved and is flawed) which undermines their very argument. If human reasoning evolved and is flawed, then how can we know that evolution is a fact, much less any particular details of said evolutionary process that they think they understand via their “research”?
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....their.html

    The following interview is sadly comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that our faculties of reasoning will correspond to the truth, not even for the truth that he is purporting to give in the interview, (which begs the question of how was he able to come to that particular truthful realization, in the first place, if neo-Darwinian evolution were actually true?);

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

    I strongly suggest watching Dr. Craig’s critique of the atheist Dr Rosenberg’s book, in the short video that follows, to get a glimpse for just how insane the metaphysical naturalist’s position actually is in regards to maintaining the epistemological integrity of his mind.

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    also of note:

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in video description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

    Moreover, and not so surprisingly, in this following video there is reference to some studies that show that people who do not believe in a soul/mind are a bit more anti-social (psychopathic) than the majority of people who do believe in a soul/mind:

    Anthony Jack, Why Don’t Psychopaths Believe in Dualism? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?l.....zOk#t=862s

    Finding out that atheists who do not believe in a soul/mind are a bit more psychopathic (anti-social) than the rest of us is really not that surprising to find out:

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

  2. I have no idea what type of intelligence tests were used to ascertain whether Atheists are more intelligent than everyone else or not (definitely not an emotional intelligence test as is witnessed by the bank note fiasco), but seeing as atheists deny they even have a mind in the first place, then I have no choice but to conclude that atheists have literally ‘lost their minds’ in their beliefs. Especially considering the fact that the most sure thing, most concrete thing, we can know for certain about reality is that we do indeed have a mind:

    “Descartes remarks that he can continue to doubt whether he has a body; after all, he only believes he has a body as a result of his perceptual experiences, and so the demon could be deceiving him about this. But he cannot doubt that he has a mind, i.e. that he thinks. So he knows he exists even though he doesn’t know whether or not he has a body.”
    http://cw.routledge.com/textbo.....ualism.pdf

    Decartes’ semi-famous ‘I think therefore I am’ philosophical dictum has, ironically, found purchase in modern cosmology:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale. For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Moreover, to deny that one has a mind is undermine the very ability of a person to reason coherently in the first place:

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    If you disagree with C.S. Lewis on this conclusion, here are some atheists who have reached the same exact conclusion as Lewis as to the epistemological failure inherent within atheism/materialism:

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

    Evolutionists Are Now Saying Their Thinking is Flawed (But Evolution is Still a Fact) – Cornelius Hunter – May 2012
    Excerpt: But the point here is that these “researchers” are making an assertion (human reasoning evolved and is flawed) which undermines their very argument. If human reasoning evolved and is flawed, then how can we know that evolution is a fact, much less any particular details of said evolutionary process that they think they understand via their “research”?
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....their.html

    The following interview is sadly comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that our faculties of reasoning will correspond to the truth, not even for the truth that he is purporting to give in the interview, (which begs the question of how was he able to come to that particular truthful realization, in the first place, if neo-Darwinian evolution were actually true?);

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

    I strongly suggest watching Dr. Craig’s critique of the atheist Dr Rosenberg’s book, in the short video that follows, to get a glimpse for just how insane the metaphysical naturalist’s position actually is in regards to maintaining the epistemological integrity of his mind.

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    also of note:

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in video description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

    Moreover, and not so surprisingly, in this following video there is reference to some studies that show that people who do not believe in a soul/mind are a bit more anti-social (psychopathic) than the majority of people who do believe in a soul/mind:

    Anthony Jack, Why Don’t Psychopaths Believe in Dualism? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?l.....zOk#t=862s

  3. Finding out that atheists who do not believe in a soul/mind are a bit more psychopathic (anti-social) than the rest of us is really not that surprising of a fact to find out:

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Moreover, Christians respond better to psychiatric treatment than atheists do,,

    Christians respond better to psychiatric treatment than atheists: – July 21, 2013
    Excerpt: “Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm,” explained Rosmarin.
    The study looked at 159 patients, recruited over a one-year period. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome and emotion regulation, each on a five-point scale. Levels of depression, wellbeing, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-are-crazy

    Studies: Belief in God relieves depression – Sept. 2010
    Excerpt: The operative term here is “caring,” the researchers said. “The study found that those with strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience an improvement.” ,,,The researchers compared the levels of melancholy or hopelessness in 136 adults diagnosed with major depression or bipolar depression with their sense of “religious well-being.” They found participants who scored in the top third of a scale charting a sense of religious well-being were 75 percent more likely to get better with medical treatment for clinical depression.
    “In our study, the positive response to medication had little to do with the feeling of hope that typically accompanies spiritual belief,” said study director Patricia Murphy, a chaplain at Rush and an assistant professor of religion, health and human values.
    “It was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared,” she said.
    Data released last year by sociologists from the University of California at Berkeley, in fact, revealed that 93 percent of the nation believes in God, a finding that has remained unchanged since 1988.
    The Canadian researchers who found that belief in God lowers anxiety and stress also based their conclusions on measurements — monitoring the brain activities of believers and nonbelievers charged with some challenging tasks.
    “We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors,” said Michael Inzlicht, assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto, who led the research.“ They’re much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error,” he said.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com....._headlines

    Whereas atheism, besides impeding psychiatric treatment, leads towards more irrational beliefs,,,

    Look Who’s Irrational Now – 2008
    Excerpt: “What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....54585.html

    Verse and Music:

    II Tim. 1:7,
    “For God hath not given us the spirit
    of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound
    mind.”

    Kari Jobe – Revelation Song – Passion 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dZMBrGGmeE

  4. When I find one atheist who can coherently back up their belief system, I might think they could be smart. But lacking such an instance only can lead one to another conclusion.

    Atheism is a fad/fashion. It is cool in some circles. It is no different than being a New England Patriot fan and wearing a Tom Brady shirt or a St. Louis Cardinal groupie. It is what one chooses to espouse at the moment as important about themselves. Don’t ask for logic. There is none. It is all feeling.

  5. F/N: I just had to deal with much the same, here. If indoctrination monopolises educational and media discussion of a worldview-embedded issue, it will have an impact and if bright kids used to seeking “ticks” from influential figures are subjected to such in absence of balancing critical analysis the indoctrination is often going to be effective. And if you measure “intelligence” in the usual culturally tainted ways, voila, self-confirming bias. (Do we remember the issues over how people of my race were often seen as lacking intelligence through similar errors? Why don’t we see the very same problem in a different guise?) Given present issues and impacts, please understand that I just don’t feel up to a more elaborated discussion. KF

  6. Chesterton also said: ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.’

    I find the implicitly dismissive disbelief in the paranormal and communication with the dead, by the researchers of the study carried out at Baylor University, a Christian university, I believe, bizarre, Philip, as well as your apparent endorsement of it, since I believe you are a Catholic. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    I don’t believe the incident of Saul and the Witch of Endor, apocryphal, and did not the disciples, seeing Jesus walking on the water, fear he was a ghost. Anyway, it’s anecdotal qua DATA (before any atheist numbskull interjects with that hackneyed and desperately misconceived little ‘bon mot’ denying their unity), in much the same degree as, that the US exists about 3000 miles away to the west of the UK. The existence of ghosts is common knowledge to most of humanity, and has been throughout recorded history.

    What’s more, why would Christians not believe in the Communion of Saints, since it’s in the Creeds, and the basis of Catholics prayers to the saints, as well as to and for the Holy Souls.

    I’ve seen Protestants jib at any intermediary between God and ourselves, but the fact is, we know from the Apocalypse that one of the angels offers up to God the prayers of the saints qua children of light – I believe in the form of incense from a golden censer.

  7. This is a change. From 2005, Modern IQ studies show religious people to be ranked higher than atheists>

    And from that forum post, we get this: In a lecture by Fritz Shafer from a website by Leadership University we see that “Recent thinking among many leading educators suggests that there are various forms of intelligence, not just one (Gardner, 1994). A child who is born with less aptitude for dealing with quantitative or verbal tasks, therefore, might possess greater “interpersonal” or “intrapersonal” intelligence, but these latter abilities are not tested by these tests. For the kinds of items that are most commonly found on standardized achievement tests, children differ in their innate abilities to respond correctly. And some items on standardized achievement tests are aimed directly at measuring such intellectual ability.”

    I also note that in describing “the cultural script” of higher education, he fails to recognize religious institutions; my college, Regis University, was run by Jesuits. The purpose of college is not to create atheists but, rather, to get people to think for themselves about what they believe and why they believe it.

  8. This scholar confirmed my impression, that the overrepresentation of atheists in Science is largely due to social factors :-)

    Lovely greetings from Germany
    Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  9. Here is an atheist’s take on the recent study that found Atheists smarter than the rest of the population,,

    Before We Make Too Much of the Intelligence and Religiosity Study
    Excerpt: Still, there are a few points that should be considered when trying to understand studies of this sort:

    Studies relying on large sets of aggregate data are informative in understanding group trends but tell us next to nothing about individuals. That is, the results of such a study – no matter how big or how well done – cannot reasonably be interpreted as suggesting that a particular religious person is any less intelligent than a particular atheist.
    Intelligence, as assessed by modern intelligence tests, appears to be normally distributed throughout the population. Using the mean and standard deviation from modern IQ tests (typically 100 and 15, respectively), we can calculate the portion of the population which will obtain IQ scores in various ranges. Most people (68% to be precise) will fall within 1 standard deviation of the mean (i.e., they will have IQ scores between 85 and 115). Another way to frame this would be to point out that most people are, by definition, of average intelligence.
    Very small differences become statistically significant when the sample size gets large. This is important because these some differences, while statistically significant, are too small to have much practical importance.
    Finding a negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity is certainly interesting, but is a far cry from indicating that religious belief somehow causes people to be less intelligent.

    I mention these points for two reasons. First, I am seeing quite a few atheists gloating about the results of this study, and I expect few understand the limitations. From what I have read so far, these include but are not limited to the narrow definition of intelligence used by the authors, the reliance on studies conducted in the West and emphasizing U.S. Protestants, and the inclusion of studies that have been criticized by other researchers in the data set. Second, I am seeing too many comments like, “Duh! Was there ever any doubt?” Because we are likely talking about small differences here, I’m not sure such reactions are warranted based on this one study. This stuff tends to be quite complex and far from obvious.
    http://www.atheistrev.com/2013.....gence.html

    This paper also doesn’t sit well with me for I know for a fact that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    you can see the dramatic difference, of the SAT scores for private Christian schools compared to public secular schools, at this following site;

    Aliso Viejo Christian School – SAT 10 Comparison Report
    http://www.alisoviejochristian.....at_10.html

    There was a study that tried to ‘correct’ for the discrepancy between private Christian schools and public schools by ‘correcting the scores for public schools upward. The following article points out the flaw in the 2007 study that found equality in education between public schools and private schools by ‘falsely correcting’ the test scores upwardly for public schools:

    Do private schools educate children better than public schools?
    Excerpt: The results of education testing seems to show mixed results on the question of whether private schools educate children better. The results of the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests showed that private school students achieved higher scores at all three grade levels tested. However, a 2007 Center on Education Policy study found that once socioeconomic factors are corrected when assessing test results, private school students didn’t perform any better than public school students. Basically, this study says that students who did well on the standardized tests would have done well regardless of whether they attended a private or public school. However, moving past the dueling tests and studies, what’s clear is that private school students have better SAT scores, and better college admission and graduation rates, regardless of socioeconomic level.
    http://curiosity.discovery.com.....ic-schools

    As with the ‘dueling tests and studies’ between private christian schools and public schools, the results often depend as much on the bias of the researcher conducting the study as to what the evidence may actually say. Thus as with this current meta-analysis, and knowing for a fact that IQ tests for private Christian schools are higher than public schools, then I think it is fair to say that the bias of the researchers may certainly have played a part in the results. Especially by the inclusion of studies that have been criticized by other researchers in the data set.

    Moreover,,,

    United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note: The slight decline in crime rate from the mid 90s until now is attributed in large part to tougher enforcement on minor crimes. (a nip it in the bud policy)
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    What Lies Behind Growing Secularism by William Lane Craig – May 2012 – podcast (steep decline in altruism of young people since early 1960′s)
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....secularism

  10. Bruce Gordon misunderstands the Boltzmann’s brain argument. Boltzmann conjectured that the entire universe proofed into existence in a spontaneous fluctuation, fully formed, with all the features we see today, including our complex brains.

    Given that, he realized that it was much more likely that only a brain would poof into existence, since it was much less complex than.a brain plus universe.

    That was in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, we discovered that the universe proofed into existence a long time ago with all of it’s mass and energy crammed into a minuscule volume along with a very few (and possibly only one) law.

    The universe thus contained very little information and had very low entropy at the beginning. It’s been using that low entropy to expand, create stars and elements heavier than lithium ever since and eventually it started producing brains.

    No spontaneous fluctuations except possibly one at the beginning and thus no Boltzmann brains.

Leave a Reply