Couple of academics just asked the question, “Why is Intelligence Negatively Associated with Religiousness?”
“The answer”, one report says, “is that religion is an instinct, and it takes intelligence to overcome an instinct”.
That’s odd, because it was just three weeks ago we read that brain damage was caused religious fundamentalism. So which is it? Instinct or brain damage?
The authors of the new study, Edward Dutton and Dimitri Van der Linden, are pleased to start their work by saying, “It was widely remarked upon in Classical Greece and Rome that ‘fools” tended to be religious while the ‘wise’ were skeptics.” But they unwisely forget that Rome’s greatest poet Virgil in Georgics wrote, “Above all, worship the gods.” And Plato had Timaeus say, “All men, Socrates, who have any degree of right feeling, at the beginning of every enterprise, whether small or great, always call upon God.” Let us do the same.
Dutton and Dimitri Van der Linden think “a solution to understanding the negative religion-intelligence nexus” lies in evolutionary theory.
If religion is an evolved domain, then it is an instinct and intelligence — in rationally solving problems — can be understood as involving overcoming instinct and being intellectually curious and thus open to non-instinctive possibilities.
Now Dutton and Van der Linden have no proof of this. It is just a theory, full of ifs, supposeds, conjectures, maybes. Worse, it commits the Religion Research Fallacy. As I wrote three weeks back:
It is an old argument, but a good one: If the brain [through evolution] causes our thoughts, then it cannot be trusted. For what guarantee is there that if it misleads us in one area it’s not misleading us in another? There is none. If the brain causes false religious beliefs, it could also cause false science beliefs. And there’s no way to tell the difference.
Dutton and Van der Linden call their theory the “Intelligence-Mismatch Association Model”. But they didn’t consider an even simpler theory about religion and intelligence. I call it the Smart People Believe Dumb Things theory. It goes like this.
Some smart guys
Know who was a smart guy? Jean Jacques Rousseau. Dude really had a wigged head on his shoulders. Everybody said, “That Jolly Jean Jacques is sharp as the blade of a guillotine.”
Know what he said? “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
Tumultuous applause still greets that line every time it’s heard, even though, as is obvious, it is preposterously false. Set a baby down and leave it be. See how “free” it is. So contrary to common observation is this, and many, of Rousseau’s sayings, that they could only be the product of a brilliant mind.
Know how intelligent Mao Zedong was? Boy, was that man’s mind keen! Every Western visitor remarked on the number of books Mao possessed. And he read them! He used to make notes in the margins to have “arguments” with the authors.
All that reading swelled to magnificent proportion his little gray cells. One intelligent man. And, let’s face it, it takes a genius to slaughter tens of millions and still come out smelling sweet.
Mao did not love God. Rousseau wasn’t too enamored, either. Neither Stalin. Or Marx.
None of these guys were dumb. But each of them, like many others of high intellect, rejected the simplest and truest and plainest argument there is. That God exists.