Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Some questions from a reader.

One reader asked some fair questions in one of the comment sections and I would like to answer them as fairly as I can. I choose to do so here because they are good questions and worthy of reply. There were three questions in this comment and I will take them one at a time.

“Do all people who believe in God have to be morons?

No, but it helps. I’m not being sarcastic. The fact is that the lower the intelligence level of a person the more likely they are to be religious. The fact remains that the lower the IQ of an individual the more likely they are to believe in a deity. And the higher the IQ the less likely one is to be religious. The more intelligent a person the more likely they are to have an education. There is also a correlation between disbelief and education. Someone with a graduate degree is twice as likely to have no religion at all as someone with just some high school.

And a survey of members of the National Academy of Sciences, sort of the cream of intelligent people, found that on 7% said they had a belief in a deity.

A moron is someone lacking intelligence and the surveys do show that a lack of intelligence helps one to believe in the supernatural.

But one does not HAVE to be a moron to believe in magic men in the sky.

An intelligent person can believe. Some of the worst fallacies in history have been believed by intelligent people. Marxism, the most economically illiterate theory around was promoted by intelligent people. National Socialism (Nazism) was quite popular at the universities. But the fact remains that the more intelligent a person the more likely they are to be an atheist.

“Can some want to follow Jesus and not be religious and still think for themselves, and love philosophy?”

Can you think for yourself and follow the thinking of someone else? Obviously not. If you are following the teaching of someone else you are not thinking for yourself. But I don’t think that is what you are asking. I just think you worded it badly. I think you are asking if one can be a self-thinker and still conclude that the teachings of another person are correct. And the answer to that is that one can provided one has concluded these things for himself and not merely adopted them because this other person said such things.

And more importantly those believes that you adopt from this third party need to be beliefs you can personally justify. You must have some reason to think they are true and simply liking them is not enough. Why do you think they are true? What evidence can you marshal to their defense?

Philosophy is an attempt to understand the world. Religion is a primitive form of philosophy much the way alchemy is a primitive form of chemistry. An alchemist can love chemistry but is not a good chemists. A religionists can love philosophy but I don’t think they are a good philosopher.

Certainly the ethics of Jesus are not particularly unique. Other religions said the same things and often said them better. And the comments attributed to him by the gospels are relatively narrow in focus. His philosophy in particular is very narrow indeed. He only deals with some specifics and doesn’t approach the vast majority of issues dealt with by philosophers. And some argue his ethics are his weakest point. I personally think the ethics of Jesus are one of the foundations on which Marxism was built -- and I oppose Marxism.

“Can I be a Christian and stand against organized religion?”

Well, in my experience one can be a Christian and stand for absolutely anything. The ability of Christians to compartmentalize their beliefs is astounding. Most do not integrate their beliefs into a coherent whole because they can’t. Most believe that Jesus has the power to heal them but go to doctors instead. Most believe that Jesus can resurrect one but they still bury their dead instead of praying over them for a miracle.

My belief is that religion is inherently incoherent. It is based on false premises and comes to false conclusions. And the reason that organized religion is such a problem, something you tacitly acknowledge in your question, is because when a mass of people come together, based on a incoherent or false idea, they are actually dangerous. Irrationality in one person is a bad thing. Irrationality in a large collective body (and I would argue that is almost inevitable) is particularly dangerous.


Blogger Ethereal said...

Good article. I personally do believe that religion is evil. Those that are christians are deluded in the beliefs. I do not impose on them for I think that people have the right to believe what they see fit. The problem is when they get goverment power and try to force their opinions on those that are not christians.

November 29, 2006


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