For most lay-persons intelligence can be difficult to quantify, but they likely comprehend that being educated does not necessarily mean a person is intelligent any more than being intelligent means someone is well-educated. Some universally accepted indicators of intelligence are logic, abstract thought, understanding, communication, problem solving, and the ability to come to conclusions based on facts as opposed to someone basing their knowledge on faith. Faith is belief in something that is not based on facts or empirical data, and most religious scholars argue faith’s proper domain should be restricted to questions that cannot be settled by evidence. Unfortunately, there is surprisingly large segment of Americans that believe their faith informs facts and evidence and it calls into question their level of intelligence.
In a recent poll, it was revealed that 70% of Georgia Republicans and 53% of all Georgia voters believed the Christian bible creation story is factual, and as stunning as the numbers are in Georgia, nationwide 46% of Americans adhere to the creation story as reality. Now, it is not to say that Americans who believe in creationism are unintelligent, but because their belief is founded on faith that cannot be proven and they vote according to that faith, they support politicians and policies that put the entire nation in peril and calls into question their level of intelligence.
It is doubtful that many people would openly assert that belief in creationism indicts a person as stupid or bad, although there are valid arguments to support that assumption, but it does put them in opposition to established science that epitomizes stupidity and is bad for America. Over the weekend, the danger inherent with people in positions of power who oppose established science exposed itself in the person of Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who is vice-chair of the House Science Committee; he is also an adherent of the Christian religion. Rohrabacher spoke at a town hall on Saturday and stated categorically that “global warming is a total fraud,” and continued that “so much money has gone to science research projects they use to intimidate all of us into changing our lives and our freedom to make our choices on transportation and everything else.” It is doubtful that Rohrabacher’s assertion did not resonate with the ‘creationist crowd’ whose ignorance drives their suspicion of scientific evidence proving global warming is real, and it likely reinforced their opposition to climate science regardless they see and feel global warming’s effects. That is the consequence and danger of faith-based belief systems; they allow fanatics and charlatans to cater to and manipulate the unintelligent true believers.
In a new review of 63 studies conducted over the past century, researchers found that people with higher intelligence are less likely to fall for religious faith-facts and scriptural mythos. The psychologists reviewing decades and decades of research defined intelligence as the “ability to reason, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, and learn from experience” that they concluded described analytical and reasoned forms of intellect. Conversely, they defined religiosity as belief in the supernatural, obedience to this supernatural, and affirming their belief in the supernatural through blind adherence to unproven and false faith-facts. The danger for a society like America is that unwavering obedience based on faith makes religious devotees easy targets for conservatives who promulgate science-fear and take advantage of religious-faith to convince the faithful to vote against their, and all Americans’ best interests. The assault on women’s right to choose their own reproductive health is a prime example.
Despite the Christian bible and medical science does not consider a fetus a person until it breathes air, Republicans have little trouble convincing the same people who believe in creation that because they attach the words “sanctity of human life” to anti-women’s legislation, it may as well have been hand-delivered by their deity directly to GOP legislators. In fact, regardless that universally accepted biological science (and common sense) dictates otherwise, the personhood movement, many Republicans, and Christian conservatives are so blinded by faith they seriously regard a single-celled organism (zygote) a feeling and cognitive person. One has to question the intelligence of any human (regardless of education) who thinks a sperm cell penetrating an ovum is a person, but then again one questions the intelligence of believing Earth was hand-crafted by a deity in six days and is six-thousand years old.
The opposition to gay rights is founded in religious dogma and evangelicals contend homosexuality is a lifestyle choice despite evidence that gays are born gay. However, scientists who discovered genetic evidence proving homosexuality is not a choice are up against evangelicals and Republicans who deride science leaving the unintelligent little choice but to reject science the same as they reject overwhelming evidence of evolutionary biology. However, Republicans, religious right leaders, and their creationist followers only reject science that contradicts policies that empower their religious supporters and enrich their campaign donors.
The hypocrisy inherent in creationists, climate change deniers, and anti-choice advocates who abhor science because it disproves their faith-beliefs is simply stunning. The suspicion, hatred, and fear of science never crops up when faith-based devotees require emergency medical treatment or highly specialized and scientifically researched intervention to save their lives. Indeed, the oil industry that spends hundreds-of-millions of dollars discrediting scientific research as a total fraud are highly-invested in and solely dependent on science to extract their product from the Earth. Either science is legitimate, valuable, and a necessary part of life or it is a total fraud liberals use to frighten and control conservatives, but it cannot be both. Maybe if the faithful and anti-science crowd abandoned modern medicine, electricity, and motorized transportation they could be taken seriously, but their faith is only as strong as they need it to be to impose their will and beliefs on other Americans.
It is mindboggling there are so many Americans opposed to science and steeped in myth and superstition in the 21st century. Most Americans embrace science and appreciate scientists’ work that society is reliant on despite conservative claims it is a liberal plot to frighten and control the people. Part of the problem is a 40-year conservative campaign to demean science as a corrupt institution existing by virtue of liberal deceit, and it helps drives their objection to climate science because “if the left is responsible for science, it’s responsible for climate science which is another attempt to expand government power.” As bizarre and utterly ridiculous as that assertion seems, it has found a home in the same 46% of Americans who embrace that other bizarre and utterly ridiculous assertion; creationism.
One hesitates to automatically dismiss creationists as unintelligent and lacking in cognitive skills such as the ability to reason or comprehend complex ideas, but just barely. However, when so-called intelligent Americans see the effects of global climate change right before their eyes and believe Republicans who claim it is a total fraud, one can only assume they are either blinded by faith or inherently stupid. At this point, it is impossible to believe for a nanosecond they are that blinded by their faith.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.