I encountered an article on Huffington Post this morning by Rob Brooks. It is entitled, "Does it matter that nonbelievers are smarter than believers?" This is the classic provocative question--something that we learn about in classes that teach expository writing. It is actually a flawed form of reasoning, something that writers normally avoid, or if not they get criticism from their teacher as to their expertise. Once again I ask: what is an editor's job at HP?
The implication of such a question was explored a few years ago in a paper that might as well have been titled, "Does it matter that white people are smarter than black people?" That article was greeted with severe hostility, although it should have been ignored.
The fact is that you can never prove that all black people have an I. Q. that falls below 100, nor can you prove that all white people have an I. Q. that exceeds 100. This is why such "studies" are usually treated as exploratory by reputable researchers; they can indicate social trends. But it is no secret, nor is it a revelation, that primitive religion is at one of its apexes in today's social context. Everywhere you go you can trip over various fanatics who have no compunctions about forcing their beliefs on you and would gladly take the lives of anyone who refuses to submit to them, including their own countrymen, obviously.
Brooks' article will probably not arouse much protest in the religious community other than the comments I already read, posted by people who want to testify to their own beliefs in flawed English, which will make anyone look bad. But if you want to do some serious analysis, let's look at what the article does not allege. It does not state, nor can it, that all non-believing people are "smarter" than all believing people. Such a thing is not possible. Let's postulate an I. Q. of 100 as the lower margin of normal intelligence, as I did above. Can a researcher prove that all believers--every single one of us--has an I. Q. below 100, and that all unbelievers--each and every one of them--has an I. Q. above 100? No, that cannot be proved, nor can it be researched. There is no way to survey everyone in any class of subjects. You have to take a sample.
My comment on the HP website was that I hope the researchers did not sample the House of Representatives, because the primitive un-Christianity there, along with the willful ignorance and self-imposed stupidity, will skew any study about intelligence, that's for sure. And if you want intelligent believing people, I defer to those who were mentioned in the comments as well. I will stack up Bishop John Shelby Spong , C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien against anybody the non-believing community can put up; in fact, it used to happen fairly often when Bishop Spong used to make appearances on discussion shows. If the New Atheists can't knock down the beliefs of Bishop Spong at least enough to make him admit to doubts--which we all have, but for different reasons--then I don't think Brooks is going to unseat Christianity anytime soon.
What is more thought-provoking, to me, is this: why is it that some people have to attack or "debunk" the beliefs of those who disagree with them? I don't understand why it should stick in the craw of an atheist that there are such things as theists. I have said it before, and I'll say it again here: atheism is a faith. I believe in God; the atheist believes that there is no God. But I cannot demonstrate objectively that God exists, nor can an atheist demonstrate that there is no God. That is why they are referred to as unbelievers or non-believers.
Faith is in the realm of belief. Observation is in the realm of science, if you like, but science and religion do not answer the same questions. You can ask your family doctor, "Why am I here?" She or he will explain to you a long chain of events, starting with sexual intercourse, that led to your physical entrance into this world. But if you asked me why you were born, my answer would be something along the lines of self-examination and finding purpose in existence. I have always felt that I was a born teacher, and I lived that out for more than thirty years before I ultimately retired. I taught everything from classroom English, history and civics, to dance, to cooking. Now I write, another aspect of teaching people things they do not know. That's why I publish recipes in my cooking columns and research my column on Christianity.
I also find it offensive that the Huffington Post chooses to publish shoddy articles that purport to be objective, when in reality everything in the article, including the title, is meant to be provocative without answering any questions.
If primitive religion and primitive atheism would stop screaming at the rain, we would all be a lot closer to the answer to, "Why can't we all just get along?"