Anderson on Intelligence and Religious Belief

James Anderson, responding to recent studies that attempt to prove a correlation between religious beliefs and low IQs, lists five reasons why the relationship between intelligence and religious belief doesn’t determine whether a person (or a belief) is right or wrong:

  1. If intelligence were generally correlated with having true beliefs, we would expect there to be wide agreement among the beliefs of intelligent people. We find wide disagreement over major disputed issues among those with high IQs.
  2. The more intelligent a person is, the greater his capacity to rationalize . . . [A] person’s intelligence can work just as effectively against the pursuit of truth, especially if that truth is an unwelcome truth.
  3. On a related point, it’s not uncommon for very smart people to hold and defend very bizarre and counterintuitive ideas, and to act in quite foolish ways.
  4. High intelligence can easily become an occasion for pride, arrogance, and an attitude of self-reliance. But Christianity regards such attitudes as vices, in conflict with devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor (see, e.g., Prov. 3:5-7Matt. 5:5Rom. 12:16Phil. 2:31 Pet. 5:5). So the Christian faith and its accompanying ethic can be a stumbling block to those who have high IQs.
  5. Whether a person’s belief in God is rational bears no direct relation to how intelligent that person is. The rationality of such beliefs isn’t indexed to the intelligence of the person who holds those beliefs. It’s basically a matter of whether that person is “of sound mind.”

Anderson concludes: “In sum, one of the great virtues of Christianity is that it especially welcomes those who are looked down on by the world’s intelligentsia. So it’s no surprise, and no discredit, that the more simple-minded are well represented within its ranks.”

I highly recommend reading the whole post. It is encouraging and biblical – a true example of practical apologetics for the church. (Also, follow Anderson on twitter).

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