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IQ and Religiosity
Posted: 08 January 2007 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“advocatus”]Compartmentalizing seems to be the key.

Sounds plausible, although I’d like to see some real cognitive psychology work done on this issue. I have known all sorts of very smart, intelligent people with weird beliefs on the oddest things.

Well Doug,

Speaking as a scientist and a practicing Christian I’m one of the folks Dawkins is baffled by.

My presence in this forum is not to proselyte, obviously!  But a way for me to understand why people believe what they do, and to debate in a mutually respectful manner. 

The physical world has many strange phenomena.  Especially in quantum physics where for instance an electron can be in more than one place at the same time.  I don’t conclude science is rubbish because quantum physics does strange things.

Life is a learning process, I LOVE science but I’m not ready to throw God out.

Can I suggest you listen to an interview with John Polkinghorne (a Canon Theologian of Liverpool Cathedral in England and author of many books, including Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity. He served as Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University, and is a Fellow of The Royal Society.).  A scientitist AND theolgian.

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/quarks/

“Science and religion are often pitted against one another; but how do they complement, rather than contradict, one another? We learn how one man applies the deepest insights of modern physics to think about how the world fundamentally works, and how the universe might make space for prayer.”

[quote author=“Krista Tippet”]...Modern science increasingly suggests that contradictory explanations of reality can be simultaneously true. A scientific puzzle of whether light is a particle or a wave was resolved with the discovery that light has a dual nature as both a particle and a wave. And here’s the key that made that discovery possible: how we ask the questions affects the answers we arrive at. Light appears as a wave if you ask it “a wave-like question” and it appears as a particle if you ask it “a particle-like question.”

Second, there is the matter of quarks. Modern quantum physics has come to depend on quarks as a foundational element in understanding the way the world works. But in a very real sense, quarks are an article of faith. No scientist has actually seen one, nor do scientists necessarily ever expect to. They are believed to exist, because the idea of quarks gives intelligibility to the whole of observable reality.

These scientific notions give me new, creative ways to imagine the credibility of religious modes of thought. They underscore John Polkinghorne’s personable and passionate message that we need the insights of science and religion together to “interpret and understand the rich, varied, and surprising way the world actually is.”

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Posted: 08 January 2007 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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[quote author=“carryoncamping”]The physical world has many strange phenomena.  Especially in quantum physics where for instance an electron can be in more than one place at the same time.  I don’t conclude science is rubbish because quantum physics does strange things.

Well, the difference between QM and religion, of course, is that there is a huge amount of very strong empirical evidence that shows QM to be predictively correct. There is none that shows any particular sectarian religion to be correct.

It is also incorrect to talk about belief in quarks as “faith”. We believe in them because our best (most explanatorily and predictively correct) theory says that they exist. This is precisely the opposite of faith, which works in contrast to, or in ignorance of, the evidence.

I haven’t time to listen to the Polkinghorne thing, but looking at his Wikipedia entry, it appears as though his arguments for god would, at most, establish a deist sort of god. It certainly does not establish the existence of any sort of god that is worthy of worship, much less the Christian god.

Further, dealing with the deism, how would god’s existence explain why there is something rather than nothing? This is simply a specious argument. One could just as well ask the question why there is a god rather than nothing.

So these appear to be very weak arguments indeed, that go nowhere towards establishing any sort of god worthy of worship.

And the problem of evil is quite enough to establish that whichever supernatural creature Polkinghorne would wish to exist cannot simultaneously be all knowing, all good and all powerful.

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Posted: 08 January 2007 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“carryoncamping”]The physical world has many strange phenomena.  Especially in quantum physics where for instance an electron can be in more than one place at the same time.  I don’t conclude science is rubbish because quantum physics does strange things.

Well, the difference between QM and religion, of course, is that there is a huge amount of very strong empirical evidence that shows QM to be predictively correct. There is none that shows any particular sectarian religion to be correct.

It is also incorrect to talk about belief in quarks as “faith”. We believe in them because our best (most explanatorily and predictively correct) theory says that they exist. This is precisely the opposite of faith, which works in contrast to, or in ignorance of, the evidence.

I haven’t time to listen to the Polkinghorne thing, but looking at his Wikipedia entry, it appears as though his arguments for god would, at most, establish a deist sort of god. It certainly does not establish the existence of any sort of god that is worthy of worship, much less the Christian god.

Further, dealing with the deism, how would god’s existence explain why there is something rather than nothing? This is simply a specious argument. One could just as well ask the question why there is a god rather than nothing.

So these appear to be very weak arguments indeed, that go nowhere towards establishing any sort of god worthy of worship.

And the problem of evil is quite enough to establish that whichever supernatural creature Polkinghorne would wish to exist cannot simultaneously be all knowing, all good and all powerful.

Thanks Doug, for your cogent response.  My belief in a God at this time does not preclude at some later date my becoming aethist.

I think we all believed in something once when we were young, be it the tooth fairy or father christmas.  I’m still travelling the road to disbelief,  hopefully the fellow members of the group won’t scare me off too soon!

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Posted: 08 January 2007 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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[quote author=“carryoncamping”]I think we all believed in something once when we were young, be it the tooth fairy or father christmas.  I’m still travelling the road to disbelief,  hopefully the fellow members of the group won’t scare me off too soon!

Eh, don’t let us scare you off.

LOL

In general it looks like the notion of god is caught in something of a pincer.

If the god is supposed to be the sort that is deserving of religious worship and practice (perfectly good, all powerful, all knowing, responds to prayer, etc.), then we should expect to see quite a different world than the one we do see. Hence there is plenty of evidence that such a being does not in fact exist.

If the god is theoretically quite thin, a sort of deistic “first mover”, then even if we grant the existence of such a being, what follows? Nothing whatever about worship, practice, heaven, hell, et cetera. It’s the sort of metaphysical add-on that we find in Plato or (perhaps) Spinoza. Such a being is certainly not a “person” or “personal god”, it’s basically like a number or concept: an abstract such-and-so. And then, well, so what?

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Posted: 10 January 2007 02:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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[quote author=“Krista Tippet”]These scientific notions give me new, creative ways to imagine the credibility of religious modes of thought. They underscore John Polkinghorne’s personable and passionate message that we need the insights of science and religion together to “interpret and understand the rich, varied, and surprising way the world actually is.”

I’m curious.  What kind of “insights” can religion give us into the way quarks behave?  wink

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Posted: 10 January 2007 10:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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If the god is supposed to be the sort that is deserving of religious worship and practice (perfectly good, all powerful, all knowing, responds to prayer, etc.), then we should expect to see quite a different world than the one we do see. Hence there is plenty of evidence that such a being does not in fact exist.

If the god is theoretically quite thin, a sort of deistic “first mover”, then even if we grant the existence of such a being, what follows? Nothing whatever about worship, practice, heaven, hell, et cetera. It’s the sort of metaphysical add-on that we find in Plato or (perhaps) Spinoza. Such a being is certainly not a “person” or “personal god”, it’s basically like a number or concept: an abstract such-and-so. And then, well, so what?

Great, Doug…  What a wonderful summation of the “God” dilemma!  It’s so difficult to begin approaching the issue broadly, but you’ve managed a concise glance here, I’ll be sure to use this next time I’m asked “the question”...

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Posted: 11 January 2007 01:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Thanks HolyAvenger. Use it as you like, be my guest!

LOL

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Posted: 15 March 2007 03:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Re: IQ and Religiosity

[quote author=“carryoncamping”][quote author=“George Benedik”]
We know that higher IQ and education go hand-in-hand with atheism.

Therefore, would it be politically incorrect to suggest that people who live in the southern states of America (the Bible belt) are generally a bit dim and uneducated ?

Do genetics play a part in IQ, are intelligent parents more likely to produce children with high IQ (assuming good education facilities are available)?

Was Mark Twain from the southern states?

As far as your premise of the intelligent parents are concerned, you defeated it or reiterated it with “good education facilities”.

I’m of the persuasion that genes play the minority not the majority role of childhood development.

Aristotle got at least one thing right, ‘The longevity of an empire depends upon the education of its youth.”

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Posted: 15 March 2007 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Re: IQ and Religiosity

[quote author=“skepticdave”][quote author=“carryoncamping”][quote author=“George Benedik”]
We know that higher IQ and education go hand-in-hand with atheism.

Therefore, would it be politically incorrect to suggest that people who live in the southern states of America (the Bible belt) are generally a bit dim and uneducated ?

Do genetics play a part in IQ, are intelligent parents more likely to produce children with high IQ (assuming good education facilities are available)?

Was Mark Twain from the southern states?

As far as your premise of the intelligent parents are concerned, you defeated it or reiterated it with “good education facilities”.

I’m of the persuasion that genes play the minority not the majority role of childhood development.

Aristotle got at least one thing right, ‘The longevity of an empire depends upon the education of its youth.”

I’m not sure why, but there seems to be a strange anti-IQ sentiment expressed by a number of people. IQ is not education, but it measures, among other things, the ease with which someone can be educated.

One cannot look at the great intellectuals of the past to garner support for no relationship between IQ and belief in God. People are products of their times, and until the 18th and 19th century, almost every great thinker of note was also a theist. Since practically everyone was a theist, the correlation would have to be zero.

However, because atheism is now a real social possibility (in a way that was simply not the case in past), we are starting to see a relationship between intelligence and theistic belief.

I am a psychologist, and my learning on the subject of intelligence is that inherited factors do play a strong role in intelligence. I think education is more strongly related to belief in god, however - and scientific education in particular.

As I’ve said before, the fact that their may be a correlation does not imply anything about any specific individual. If it turns out that people with higher IQs are less likely to believe in God, that isn’t to say we need to believe that not believing in God is the proper thing to do.

When I try to argue with theists about belief and nonbelief, I don’t say ‘I’m obviously more intelligent than you, so I’m more likely to be right’. I do try to make rational arguments against believing in God, and hope that the arguments can speak for themselves, no matter if they are uttered by a genius or a fool.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Re: IQ and Religiosity

[quote author=“Metaphor”][quote author=“skepticdave”][quote author=“carryoncamping”][quote author=“George Benedik”]
We know that higher IQ and education go hand-in-hand with atheism.

Therefore, would it be politically incorrect to suggest that people who live in the southern states of America (the Bible belt) are generally a bit dim and uneducated ?

Do genetics play a part in IQ, are intelligent parents more likely to produce children with high IQ (assuming good education facilities are available)?

Was Mark Twain from the southern states?

As far as your premise of the intelligent parents are concerned, you defeated it or reiterated it with “good education facilities”.

I’m of the persuasion that genes play the minority not the majority role of childhood development.

Aristotle got at least one thing right, ‘The longevity of an empire depends upon the education of its youth.”

I’m not sure why, but there seems to be a strange anti-IQ sentiment expressed by a number of people. IQ is not education, but it measures, among other things, the ease with which someone can be educated.

One cannot look at the great intellectuals of the past to garner support for no relationship between IQ and belief in God. People are products of their times, and until the 18th and 19th century, almost every great thinker of note was also a theist. Since practically everyone was a theist, the correlation would have to be zero.

However, because atheism is now a real social possibility (in a way that was simply not the case in past), we are starting to see a relationship between intelligence and theistic belief.

I am a psychologist, and my learning on the subject of intelligence is that inherited factors do play a strong role in intelligence. I think education is more strongly related to belief in god, however - and scientific education in particular.

As I’ve said before, the fact that their may be a correlation does not imply anything about any specific individual. If it turns out that people with higher IQs are less likely to believe in God, that isn’t to say we need to believe that not believing in God is the proper thing to do.

When I try to argue with theists about belief and nonbelief, I don’t say ‘I’m obviously more intelligent than you, so I’m more likely to be right’. I do try to make rational arguments against believing in God, and hope that the arguments can speak for themselves, no matter if they are uttered by a genius or a fool.

A priori intelligence means nothing:

Give me an Aborigine or a Parisian and I can make whatever citizen or theist you want.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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By the way, a belief in god or gods has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Re: IQ and Religiosity

[quote author=“skepticdave”][quote author=“Metaphor”][quote author=“skepticdave”][quote author=“carryoncamping”][quote author=“George Benedik”]
We know that higher IQ and education go hand-in-hand with atheism.

Therefore, would it be politically incorrect to suggest that people who live in the southern states of America (the Bible belt) are generally a bit dim and uneducated ?

Do genetics play a part in IQ, are intelligent parents more likely to produce children with high IQ (assuming good education facilities are available)?

Was Mark Twain from the southern states?

As far as your premise of the intelligent parents are concerned, you defeated it or reiterated it with “good education facilities”.

I’m of the persuasion that genes play the minority not the majority role of childhood development.

Aristotle got at least one thing right, ‘The longevity of an empire depends upon the education of its youth.”

I’m not sure why, but there seems to be a strange anti-IQ sentiment expressed by a number of people. IQ is not education, but it measures, among other things, the ease with which someone can be educated.

One cannot look at the great intellectuals of the past to garner support for no relationship between IQ and belief in God. People are products of their times, and until the 18th and 19th century, almost every great thinker of note was also a theist. Since practically everyone was a theist, the correlation would have to be zero.

However, because atheism is now a real social possibility (in a way that was simply not the case in past), we are starting to see a relationship between intelligence and theistic belief.

I am a psychologist, and my learning on the subject of intelligence is that inherited factors do play a strong role in intelligence. I think education is more strongly related to belief in god, however - and scientific education in particular.

As I’ve said before, the fact that their may be a correlation does not imply anything about any specific individual. If it turns out that people with higher IQs are less likely to believe in God, that isn’t to say we need to believe that not believing in God is the proper thing to do.

When I try to argue with theists about belief and nonbelief, I don’t say ‘I’m obviously more intelligent than you, so I’m more likely to be right’. I do try to make rational arguments against believing in God, and hope that the arguments can speak for themselves, no matter if they are uttered by a genius or a fool.

A priori intelligence means nothing:

Give me an Aborigine or a Parisian and I can make whatever citizen or theist you want.

Rubbish. You can’t turn anyone into anything. We are not a blank slate. You can’t teach someone with organic brain damage higher mathematics.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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[quote author=“skepticdave”]By the way, a belief in god or gods has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence.

I believe you are wrong.

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/atheism1.htm

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Posted: 16 March 2007 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Posted: 16 March 2007 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Metaphor said:

When I try to argue with theists about belief and nonbelief, I don’t say ‘I’m obviously more intelligent than you, so I’m more likely to be right’. I do try to make rational arguments against believing in God, and hope that the arguments can speak for themselves, no matter if they are uttered by a genius or a fool.

Of course, one could argue that if people who tend to believe in God are less intelligent than atheists, they would likely be less able to understand and follow these rational arguments.  :wink:

It certainly seems true that people are often tough to argue out of their beliefs. I doubt this has anything to do with intelligence, though. Have you read Thomas Kida’s book Don’t Believe Everything You Think ? It does a great job of surveying common habits of thought that lead intelligent people to believe ridiculous things. So apart from the debate about what intelligence is and means, I think we both agree IQ has very little to do with religious belief vs atheism.

As for the IQ question, I suspect people are suspicious of the idea because in the past weak science has been used to support ultimately unscientific social prejudice. It’s been almost 20 years since my undergraduate psychology course, and the casual reading I’ve done since we began our discussion has suggested that maybe the state of the science is a bit better than it was (I’d be interested in any references you might suggest to bring me up to dote). So perhaps I need to re-examine my prejudice aginst IQ tests. Still, as I’ve said before I question the practical utility and the potentially negative societal effects of efforts to demonstrate that some people or groups of people are inherently smarter than others. It’s awfully hard to keep people from taking reasonable statements about modest heritability and variance in performance and turning them into arguments for racial superiority or the futility of educating the inherently stupid. And yes, I know, the truth is the truth so we can’t be afraid to answer questions just because we don’t like what other people will do with the answers. But not all questions are of equal value to answer, and the likely positive or negative consequences of the research is one factor to consider when decinding which ones to pursue.

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