Senate Atheism 4.0 - Now Discussing: Religiosity and intelligence

Discussion in 'Community' started by Lowbacca_1977, May 18, 2010.

  1. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    If you empathise with someone who is suffering then clearly you will grieve for them and with them but I think we are talking about different things. Yes, I agree with you that those who die for want of food or water or because of conflicts or disease can be said to die needlessly and so I guess you can say such deaths are meaningless. There is no majestic power directing or controlling those deaths for a higher purpose. They were born , they suffered and they died. I get that. But that doesn't mean our existence as human beings on this planet is meaningless. We give our own meaning to our lives and hopefully to those we can reach out to. At the same time, we must also realise that life as we have created it lends itself to suffering, chaos and disorder. I guess it is easy for us to be consumed by that darker side of our nature. All I can say is "cheer up", you can't save the world but if you are doing things to improve the lives of others then you are leading a meaningful and distinguished life and someone will remember you after you die.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Aug 12, 2013
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  2. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    I was up last night reading the article from Personality and Social Psychology Review about the metastudy of the relationship between religiosity and intelligence.

    Abstract
    Lawd have mercy.
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  3. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    I had some fun facebook arguments over this.... I haven't found myself particularly swayed by the third reason, although I think 1 and 2 are good components, particularly the 2nd one, with the caveat that it undermines any belief that one is thrust into having by family, not juts religious beliefs. I'd go further to speculate (and I'd love to see if this has been looked at in depth) that if you were to divide the non-religious into those that were raised in religious households and those that were not, that non-religious that were raised religiously would have a higher IQ, on average, than the non-religious that were not raised religiously.
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  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    You know, I was a lot more convinced by the third reason after reading the whole article and the authors' explanation for it. There is apparently a fair amount of empirical evidence for the self-enhancement function of religion, and the the self-enhancement value of intelligence, so it makes a fair amount of sense that the self-enhancement value of intelligence would serve as a viable alternative to seeking that out from religion. Moreover, it offers up a good explanation for the reinforcing cycle of secularization - in short that the more atheists there are in a society, the more atheists you get.

    If part of the value of religion is that it improves someone's stature and sense of belonging in a community, as religious participation in a culture erodes, people will become increasingly less likely over time to look to religion to fulfill that social/psychological role.

    But one of the things I love about a good meta-analysis is that you get a more or less complete source list of the major studies in the field, so there is a ton of reading material for anyone interested in learning a lot more about this topic.

    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Aug 21, 2013
  5. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
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    Then Jabba, explain this:

    [IMG]

    Unless of course you want to posit that drugs are self-enhancement.
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    I'm not sure that has to be explained as in any way related to the function of religion and the likelihood of religiosity. Even if "religion is the opiate of the masses," that doesn't mean that religion and drugs use are analogous in a pscyho-social sense, although they may be. Intelligent people may be more naturally prone to addiction due to unkown genetic biochemical reasons.

    It's useful to call into question the idea that "intelligent people are less religious because they're more rational and know better," but the study already more or less dismisses that notion.

    Interesting:
    The authors of the meta-analysis question whether the term "evolutionary novelty" is even defined in a meaningful way.


    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Aug 21, 2013
  7. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Third, several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence. Intelligent people may therefore have less need for religious beliefs and practices.

    If more intelligence provides more control and self-regulation, then shouldn't that mean that more intelligence also provides more safeguards against drug use?
    Also of interest: Why intelligent people drink more alcohol

    There appears to be a protein in the brain that provides a link between intelligence and curiosity. Curiosity, of course, is a necessary trait for the scientific minds among us. You engage in drug use or alcohol intake because you're curious about the effects... it's really all just a scientific experiment. So that would explain that. Which means that I agree with Lowie that that third reason sounds rather... unscientific.
    Last edited by SuperWatto, Aug 21, 2013
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    I don't think the argument is that intelligence provides more control and self-regulation, but that it provides an alternative source of control and self-regulation.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Aug 21, 2013
  9. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    Regarding the drug angle, why exactly is that being treated as a lack of control? It'd certainly seem like a good portion of lack of drug use comes from religious tenets against it, and the stigma that creates against it, but is there necessarily a net negative to drug use in the first place? It seems like what actually should be considered the reasonable limits of control and self-regulation aren't quite covered, and it just takes it as a given that drug use should be viewed negatively.
  10. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Okay, let me put it differently. If intelligence, as stated, provides alternatives to the control and self-regulation practiced by religious people, then what are those alternatives? And wouldn't the fact that intelligent people are more prone to addiction complicate this matter?
    Last edited by SuperWatto, Aug 22, 2013
  11. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Feb 15, 2000
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    It's curious that the most intelligent person I know, a former Supreme Court judge and President of the Court of Appeal, PhD, Queens Counsel etc etc is very religious. Go figure.
  12. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    You get anomalies on either side, and this study was meant to demonstrate a pattern as a whole. There's smart Christians and dumb Christians, smart atheists and dumb ones, but in general, intelligence leans towards the atheist side of things.
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    I don't know if this applies to your SC judge, but the study makes a distinction between intrinsic religious orientation (religiosity driven by beliefs about the truth value of religions) and extrinsic religious orientation (participation in religion for largely secular reasons, e.g. belonging to a community and culture, fitting in with friends and family and neighbors, furthering one's political career). Intelligence isn't as negatively associated with religious behavior as it is with religious beliefs.
  14. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    May 4, 2003
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    EDIT: Disregard. Posted in wrong thread.
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Aug 22, 2013
  15. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    I don't think it's relevant to the question of atheism. There's no reason to assume the link between intelligence and atheism is the same kind of link as that between intelligence and drug use.
  16. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    From the Sydney Morning Herald:

    "Homosexuality is no longer an abomination says christian school"

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-polit...-penrith-christian-school-20130829-2st05.html

    From the story:

    The school, a prepatory to Year 12 school in Sydney's western suburbs, forces parents to sign a Statement of Faith before their kids can enrol.

    The statement lists a range of views, including that homosexuality and homosexual acts are ''abomination unto God, a perversion of the natural order and not to be entered into'' as well as statements supporting divine healing and creationism.
    The policy was now under review, according to Christian Schools Australia, which says the wording has been ''misunderstood'' and that gay and lesbian students are treated with care


    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/homosexuality-is-no-longer-an-abomination-says-penrith-christian-school-20130829-2st05.html#ixzz2dQCgvUKL


    The school is saying that the 'Statement of Faith" which declares homosexuality and homosexual acts to "an abomination" is actually "misunderstood". This is exactly why I firmly believe christians and others of religious faith have infinitely more creative capacity than regular atheists. No atheist has the creative juice to claim such words are misunderstood. Biblical interpretation and rationalisation makes you a genius. Simple as that.
    Jabbadabbado likes this.
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    God has always been a very creative explanation for reality. The ability to tell an entertaining story is likely one of the earliest incentives for the development of language.
  18. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Feb 15, 2000
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    Yes and that creativity expands as more plausible and reliable explanations for the workings of the universe are uncovered. Rather than admit defeat, the apologist rises above the mundane acceptance of methodological data and instead shifts into hyper translation mode where all things have a thick and complex layer of meaning. Eating shellfish is an abomination? No it's not. Homosexual acts are an abomination? No they are not! Those written dictates actually have layers of meaning, like an onion. It's wonderful. If only we could harness the creative genius of the apologist community and direct that potent force towards other disciplines, we could probably be teleporting by now.
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    A masters in Doctrinal Retconning would be a great degree for any divinity school to offer.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    So, I'm on another Frans de Waal binge. Apart from Superwatto, he's my favorite Dutch lunatic. As some of you who've kept up on JC atheism threads know, I've been a de Waal fan for many years. He is a great popular voice of primatology, and a leading advocate for the biological and evolutionary basis of morality. As an atheist, one of the first things that popped into my head a number of years ago when I first read de Waal was that, if true, the basis of morality in mammal and primate evolution kills the "argument from morality" for the existence of God. Obviously, this isn't the point of the science, nor was the argument from morality ever very good to begin with, but it remains an incessant drumbeat among Christian apologists.

    With his latest book, however, Frans de Waal has made these tangential implications of his work explicit. "The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism among the Primates" exposes de Waal to the fundamentalists, and I'm almost surprised he decided to take the plunge into this unforgiving world.

    Yet, he's also drawn fire from atheists for his complaints about militant atheism, and has this to say:

    Atheism will need to be combined with something else, something more constructive than its opposition to religion, to be relevant to our lives. The only possibility is to embrace morality as natural to our species.

    For those who know me, you will know this statement resonates with my own feelings on the topic.

    But anyway, I want to encourage everyone to read this wonderful book as well as any of Frans de Waal's books on primatology.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Oct 7, 2013
  21. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Because you don't know Dick Swaab.

    Everything we think and do is determined and carried out by our brain. The unheard evolutionary success of mankind and the many restrictions of the individual human being are determined by this organ. The build of this incredible machine determines our possibilities, our restrictions and our character; we are our brain. The rest of our body is merely here to feed our brain, to move and to make new brains by reproduction.
    Our genes, the environment and the use of our brain strongly and permanently influence during development its structure, and therefore its function. As no one's experiences and thoughts are exactly the same, every brain becomes unique in the process of development. Each of the brains of identical twins has already become unique in this way at the moment of birth. The brain thus only partly develops on the basis of genetic information. A child's brain development is influenced already in the womb, by hormones and its mother's stress, and by the random silencing of genes, and it is threatened there, too, by any medication, alcohol and nicotine taken by the mother during pregnancy. This multitude of factors that influence the structure of the brain during early development determine together with our genetic background our character. Whether we will feel like a man or like a woman (gender identity) and our sexual orientation are determined in utero. Also early postnatal environment is involved, through, e.g. the effect of language and religion. Our brain makes our culture and our culture shapes our brain development.

    On free will:
    Our brain is unique and that’s why we are able to produce a unique poem or painting, or to create unique experiments. Eccles believes that the evidence of free will is the creativity of the scientist. But this surely doesn’t prove the theory of free will. Not coincidentally, in very different parts of the world, the same ‘unique’ find is made by very creative scientists on a very frequent basis. The ‘discovery’ of art was made about 35,000 years ago, around the same time in the Ardeche in France, in Australia and in Africa. Apparently, the unique expression of human creativity depends on the development stages of the
    brain. The brain remains a machine, from which we can theoretically, if we would know the input and build of the brain, know every detail. With reasonable certainty we could predict what will come out under certain circumstances. Because of the complexity of these connections within the human brain we are not (yet) able to do this for one individual, but this doesn’t proof the existence of a free will. Groups of people behave so predictably that free will just seems imaginary and suggested by the enormous complexity of our environments and our behaviour. According to Spinoza free will didn’t exist and a new argument for its existence isn’t given yet. How ‘free’ are we essentially? From the menu of life we can choose between meat, fish or vegetarian food, but the really import choice, how much and when we eat, is predetermined. The difficult decision to start a war usually will be made during the summer in the northern hemisphere and during the winter in the southern hemisphere. Near the equator this decision wil be made depending on the season. This has been the case for centuries.

    And finally, on-topic:
    The choice to be religious or not also doesn’t seem to be entirely ‘free’. Obviously the environment in which one grows up is a decisive factor, but twin studies also show that genetic factors decide about 50% of our religious interest (Saver and Rabin, 1997). The serotonin system (a chemical messenger) could be a biological foundation for spiritual experiences. Also the fact that LSD, mescaline (from the peyote cactus) and psilocybin can give mystical and spiritual experiences points in this direction.
    [...]
    Another intriguing encounter between religion and science occurs with the often deep religious experiences that patients with epilepsy experience at the part of the brain that is called the temple bone vortex. During the epileptic seizure, patients are often dreamy and experience hallucinations with strong religious images. They can also have the feeling like they are having an ‘out of body experience’. They often undergo emotional changes and can become hyper religious. It appeared that a patient who suffered from ecstatic epileptic seizures saw a figure that looked like Jesus, had a brain tumor. The seizures stopped after the tumor was surgically removed. About 23% of the psychoses after an epileptic seizure have a religious theme. Many founders of large religious movements like the prophet Mohammed and religious leaders like the apostle Paul and Jeanne d’Arc suffered from epilepsy.
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    In the de Waal book I'm reading he notes studies finding that spraying oxytocin into people's nostrils increases their empathic responses.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Oct 8, 2013
  23. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Can we drop some of that from drones over DC?
    Last edited by ShaneP, Oct 8, 2013
  24. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Jabba, what's the reasoning behind your weird self-quote posting of late? Is it like a split personality thing? Here's angry Jabba/here's reasonable Jabba.

    Anyway, yeah, the guy goes a bit overboard. Nevertheless, his main argument (first paragraph) is something that cannot easily be dismissed, and his argument on free will is but a small step from there. I think he may have a point with his ruminations on religion, but he does back it up crappily. Especially when you consider he's a scientist. I guess it's hard for people to remain level-headed when they think they've uncovered a great truth.
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    It's not completely unlike that.

    I was a bit surprised to learn his amazing revelation that the brain is the seat of human personality.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Oct 9, 2013