With Whom Shall You Side?
Is there an intellectual elite that, in sharp contrast to “
Let us commence with Nobel laureates. Dr. Dawkins writes that a “…systematic study by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi ‘found that among Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences, as well as those in literature, there was a remarkable degree of irreligiosity, as compared to the populations they came from’.” Surely, the prevalent atheism among Nobel laureates must mean something, given atheism’s infrequency among the general public. Could education, knowledge and intelligence lead one toward a faithless worldview?
Dr. Dawkins continues, “A study in the leading journal Nature by Larson and Witham in 1998 showed that of those American scientists considered eminent enough by their peers to have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (equivalent to being a Fellow of the Royal Society in
I have mentioned the Larson and Witham study in earlier writings. I think it is significant because of the NAS scientists’ outright disbelief in the divine; we’re not talking about wishy-washy agnostics here. Indeed, of the respondents to that survey, 72.2% expressed outright atheism, as compared to 20.8% agnosticism.
Dr. Dawkins’ next case in point is equally dramatic. He refers to research in progress from R. Elisabeth Cornwell and Michael Stirrat, which studies religiosity among the Fellows of the Royal Society. Dr. Dawkins again:
“All 1,074 Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS) who possess an email address (the great majority) were polled, and about 23 per cent responded (a good figure for this kind of study). They were offered various propositions, for example: ‘I believe in a personal God, that is one who takes an interest in individuals, hears and answers prayers, is concerned with sin and transgressions, and passes judgement.’ For each such proposition, they were invited to choose a number from 1 (strong disagreement) to 7 (strong agreement). It is a little hard to compare the results directly with the Larson and Witham study, because Larson and Witham offered their academicians only a three-point scale, not a seven-point scale, but the overall trend is the same. The overwhelming majority of FRS, like the overwhelming majority of US Academicians, are atheists. Only 3.3 per cent of the Fellows agreed strongly with the statement that a personal god exists (i.e. chose 7 on the scale), while 78.8 per cent strongly disagreed (i.e. chose 1 on the scale). If you define ‘believers’ as those who chose 6 or 7, and if you define ‘unbelievers’ as those who chose 1 or 2, there were a massive 213 unbelievers and a mere 12 believers.”
Dr. Dawkins hastened to add that there was, “…a small but significant tendency for biological scientists to be even more atheistic than physical scientists.” Apparently, those scientists who deal with life and its natural processes—the individuals most likely to find God’s fingerprints—haven’t yet discovered them.
Now, Dr. Dawkins turns to Dr. Michael Shermer, a distinguished defender of science whom I have quoted on several occasions. Dr. Dawkins writes, “Michael Shermer, in How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, describes a large survey of randomly chosen Americans that he and his colleague Frank Sulloway carried out. Among their many interesting results was the discovery that religiosity is indeed negatively correlated with education (more highly educated people are less likely to be religious). Religiosity is also negatively correlated with interest in science and (strongly) with political liberalism.” Once again, our emerging trend is unmistakable.
However, let us not immediately discount the possibility that the (several) studies which Dr. Dawkins cites in his book are anomalous. Perhaps for every one survey that finds an inverse relationship between intelligence and religiousness, there are three that chart a direct relationship; maybe Dr. Dawkins is “counting the hits and ignoring the misses.” Alas, this emphatically is not the case. Dr. Dawkins once more:
“On the subject of religion and IQ, the only meta-analysis known to me was published by Paul Bell in Mensa Magazine in 2002 (Mensa is the society of individuals with a high IQ, and their journal not surprisingly includes articles on the one thing that draws them together).
Staying on the subject of Mensa for a moment but reverting back to this article’s statistical roots, let us look at the relationship between the general public’s religiosity and that of Mensans. An American study (the reliability of which I cannot guarantee) upon which I stumbled laid out the following religious belief figures:
Those reported results, while not as dramatic, represent a continuation of our unmistakable pattern.
This information, largely culled from Dr. Dawkins’ wonderful tome “The God Delusion,” which I give my very highest recommendation, probably comes as a shock to some. But it shouldn’t. Consider some of the absurdities contained within the popular religions of today. Let us use Christianity as an example. I will cite just a handful of glaring absurdities.
* A speaking serpent.
* Adam dying at the age of 930.
* Lazarus overcoming brain death in order to return to life.
* Jesus overcoming brain death in order to be resurrected.
* The very notion that we—a single species of animal, on one planet, which is part of a single solar system, which is part of one galaxy, which itself is part of a single galaxy cluster in the universe, which itself might be part of a multiverse—can speak with the creator of the cosmos.
Surely, it is only natural that the most educated, the most intelligent and the most knowledgeable among us would reject such silliness in favor of scientific naturalism. Atheism and intelligence seem to have a direct relationship so, to conclude, I again must ask: Do you want to be on the side of eminent intelligentsia...or on the other?