Monday, June 29, 2009

Are Atheist Well Educated?


An article on claims that atheist are well educated. I contend that the sort of atheist who rants about the stupidity of theology, who is equally alarmed by philosophy and liberal arts, are not well educated, they tend to lack any sort of understanding of arts and humanities. They are only well educated in science and in computers and in things that deal with making money, but not thoughtful contemplative studies that make for deep thinking about the nature of the universe.

He starts his attack on the intelligence of Theologians by using the wrong word for them. Then he goes on to demonstrate they are so very stupid by linking to journal of theology that he finds particularly stupid. He uses the Australian EJournal of Theology Not particularly a major source.

And read through a number of the articles, but they are all the same. Each author simply puts forward their own views, without any reference to research or evidence to support their points.

Even accepting that the subject matter doesn't really lend itself to evidence, most of this stuff just looks like shameless invention.

I think the biggest paradox in reading this rubbish is that for authors who must (by nature) start with a premise that there is a deity, they don't appear to take any backward step in presuming to know the mind & motives of their particular deity. Wouldn't that in itself be the height of arrogance?

Anyhow. From my point of view if you cut and paste "invisible pink unicorn" everywhere they refer to the deity in question, the material doesn't seem to loose any of it's argumentative or logical value, which is to say, almost zero.

But, maybe I'm reading the wrong authors.

So, any theist out there who thinks they can point an atheist to a piece of writing by a theologian that would challenge my thinking please do. I'm really not up for reading entire books at this point, so an article available on the internet would be good, but books if it must be.

Over to you, internets..!

A Christian looking at the same material had this to say:


I took a look at the Australian journal the OP linked to. After browing through an article or three I was forced to conclude that you were very unfamiliar with any journals in the humanities.

I found substantiations based on well-established concepts with special meaning in the humanities (mimesis, sacraments, Logos, Other), well-known previous authors (Buber, Barth, Levinas), models (even a proposed equation system drawn from economics!), qualifications that negate their supposed "presumption" ("I propose", "The following is based on Mr. X's ideas") etc.

I really find it difficult to see how the OP could be so obtuse. Has he taken a look at papers in art, musicology, philosophy etc. lately? Given current fashions (which admittedly have much for one to object to) they are about on par with this kind of theology.

Perhaps you should start by looking up basics like "Eucharist", "Apostolic Succession", "Barth", "Luther", "Council of Chalcedon", "scholasticism" etc. on Wikipedia first. Primary texts are obviously not for you.

Of course we don't know if he's carping because the things discussed aren't "proved" or because hey discuss things he doesn't agree with or believe in. What exactly is his beef? would he find a regular academic journal of any subject "stupid" and too tedious to read? is he saying these things because he just doesn't know what a real intellect discussion looks like? The journal he picked on is not stupid. It's not a major source of theology but its' not bad.

I think he's just carping and one could slip in an academic journal on Greek and show him a brilliant article on diacritical markings in Homer and he would say it was stupid because he just doesn't know anything. How many such people are carping against theology on atheist messages boards all over the net?

That's just one guy but let's examine the claims in the about. come article:

It is true that studies have repeatedly shown a correlation between atheism and education levels. The more education a person receives — especially in the sciences — the less religious they become and the less likely they are to remain theists. The exact nature of the relationship between atheism and education is a matter of dispute, but the existence of some sort connection is clear and not really debated.

That's not true. The scientific degree bearers that believe in God are 45%. That statement by the atheist in is referring to a survey of the national academy of sciences several years ago (around 99) which was terrible and totally unscholarly because the questions were designed to compare fundamentalist belief with no alternative but atheism. So there was no room on the survey for a liberal sort of belief in a process theology god for example.

It is also true that higher education levels generally correspond with better income — the more education a person has, the more they will earn over their lifetime. The connection between education and income is even less controversial than that between education and atheism, but it suggests that in America, atheists tend to be a bit better educated and probably tend to make more money that the average. Usually, it is assumed that people with more education and money are privileged, not the victims of bigotry and discrimination. So what's going on?

There is no correlation between education levels and atheism.

this is on Doxa, my website it's originally taken from an atheist website that has for years argued that atheists have higher IQ's. I tear that up and tear this up.


Percentage of students who believe in a divine god: Harvard 30; UCLA 32; Dartmouth 35; Yale 36; Cornell 42; Wayne 43; Weslyan 43; Michigan 45; Fisk 60; Texas 62; North Carolina 68.2. National Review Study, 1970

Percentage of students who believe in a Spirit or Divine God: Reed 15; Brandeis 25; Sarah Lawrence 28; Williams 36; Stanford 41; Boston U. 41; Yale 42; Howard 47; Indiana 57; Davidson 59; S. Carolina 65; Marquette 77.

[O look what happens here! The scores go way up for God, especially at S. Carolina and Marquette why is that? And all the Ivy league and big name schools its near 50%, is this really evidence? Why a greater percentage of believers at Harvard and Yale than at UT? Better schools?]

Professors Represent the Same proportion of Religious Belief as General Public.
Students in the first year of collage or last year of high school will be more rebellious, since they are testing the limits of their new found adulthood for the first time. This means they may tend to reject their parent's teachings, but might come back to them in latter life. It might also be that the even ore intelligent cream of the crop will go on to graduate school and these will tend to be more religious than the overall student body of undergraduate school. In fact this is borne out by the stats on religious belief among professors in colleges and universities. We can assume that professors are a more highly educated and more intelligent group than the general public. Yet religious belief among professors reflects that of the general public, overwhelmingly believes in God.

Sociology 265--News Articles
Natalie Angier

c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service

"Several recent surveys of American college professors, ..., show that professors are almost as likely to express a belief in God as are Americans as a whole."

Which means that this large group of more intelligent people reflects the general population, the vast majority of which believe in God. So why doesn't this mean that when you look across the board, not at special interests that are more likely to be materialist, most intelligent people believe in God?

This fact also confirms my previous argument on page one, that we could expect many or most of these kids to become beleivers latter in life. After all, we find that bright kids have a high consentration of atheists in late highschool and than early college, but we also find that professors accorss the board tend to reflect the religious attitudes of the general population. That tells us that with more education, age, maturity, and settaling down, more intelligent people tend to resume their faith.

Just for the thrill of it, here's my list of recent nobel science winners who are Christians:

The scientific fraternity conducted a poll and found that on any given Sunday 46% of Ph.D. holders in science can be found in church. That compares with 47% for the general population (in Alan Lightman Origins: The Lives and World of Modern Cosmologists (Harvard University press, 19990).

Fritz Shafer, nominated for Nobel Prize in Chemistry, University of Georgia, himself a Christian: "it is very rare that a physical scientists is truly an atheist."Martin Rees at Cambridge: "The possibility of life as we know it depends upon a few basic values which are constants. And it is in some aspect remarkably sensitive to their heir numerical values. Nature does exhibit remarkable coincidences."

Charlie Towns, Nobel prize winner: "The question of science seems to be unanswered if we explore from science alone. Thus I believe there is a need for some metaphysical or religious explanation. I believe in the concept of God an in his existence."

Arthur Schewhow, Nobel prize winner from Stanford, identifies himself as a Christian, "We are fortunate to have the Bible which tells us so much about God in widely accessible terms."

John Pokingham, theoretical physicist at Cambridge, left physics to become a minister. "I believe that God exists and has made himself known in Jesus Christ."

The world's greatest observational cosmologist Alan Sandage, Caregie observatories, won a prize given by Swedish parliament equivalent to Nobel prize (there is no Nobel prize for cosmology) became a Christian after being a scientist, "The nature of God is not found in any part of science, for that we must turn to the scriptures."

In a lecture by Fritz Shafer from a website by Leadership University:


The last part of that web site about atheists beign smarter is very confussing indeed. He goes on to say:

"This is the result even when the researchers are Christian conservatives themselves. One such researcher is George Gallup. Here are the results of a Fall 1995 Gallup poll:

Percentage of respondents who agreed with the following statements:

Religion is Religion can "very important "answer all or most Respondents in their life" of today's problems" ------------------------------------------------------------ Attended college 53 percent 58 percent
No college 63 65
Income over $50,000 48 56
$30,000 - $50,000 56 62
$20,000 - $30,000 56 60
Under $20,000 66 66

I don't' know why he includes the income levels, but it seems that he is showing that more people who say that religion is not very important go to college than those who say it is important. But that could also be explained by the fact of early adulthood rebellion. He never presents any stats on life long commitment to atheism. And how does he explain the fact that taken across the board college professors reflect religious belief the same as the general population? "Why does this correlation exist?" He says, "The first answer that comes to mind is that religious beliefs tend to be more illogical or incoherent than secular beliefs, and intelligent people tend to recognize that more quickly." But wait, no they aren't! Just because he can't read the works of the great theologians and think rationally about them doesn't mean they aren't rational. This is mere opinion, mere propaganda!

"The simplest and most parsimonious explanation is that religion is a set of logical and factual claims, and those with the most logic and facts at their disposal are rejecting it largely on those grounds." But that shows total and complete theological naivete. What he's actually demonstrated is the opposite of his thesis in his own analysis. Why can't he read the theologians? Why can't he buy a book and find out what religion is? Why doesn't he consult the works of comparative religionists? Religion is not reducible to a mere set of propositions or of "factual claims." There is no correlation between intelligence and religious belief or lack there of. The majority of people are of average intelligence and the majority are religious. Atheism is "in" for young people in teenage rebellion so any comparison will be like comparing the chess club with the rest of the student body. There can be some very bright kids not in the chess club, perhaps even the brightest, but in comparing the chess club to the student body at large the chess club will obviously seem to be much brighter proportionally. IN fact it may well be but what does that prove?

The whole concept that the truth of the case can be decided by which camp has the brightest members is idiotic. But his site does nothing to prove that atheists are smarter. All he really proves is that at a certain time in life more adventurous kids are more likely to expediment, and that materialistically minded people are drawn to reductionistic occupations.

Next: Page 3


A Hermit said...

Once again I don't really disagree with your objections to this persons argument (it's a silly one I would never make), but I have to wonder why you fell compelled to make an inane generalization like the one in your first paragraph:

"An article on claims that atheist are well educated. I contend that they are not well educated, they tend to lack any sort of understanding of arts and humanities. They are only well educated in science and in computers and in things that deal with making money, but not thoughtful contemplative studies that make for deep thinking about the nature of the universe."

It's hard to take your critique of one atheist's misconceptions seriously when start by doing the same kind of thing he's doing...

J.L. Hinman said...

I think I qualified it to those type of atheists who say stuff like that guy did, those I call "Dawkamentalists." I think clearly stated I was taking about them.

J.L. Hinman said...

Ok I didn't say that. I meant to screwed up. now it does.

good to see you again Hermit.

A Hermit said...

Well at least you didn't pull the "hate group" crap this time...

J.L. Hinman said...

you are so dman human! all too human.

A Hermit said...

"you are so dman human! all too human."

But not FULLY human, right?

J.L. Hinman said...

you are so dman human! all too human."

But not FULLY human, right?

that's the kind of thing you humans would say!

A Hermit said...

"that's the kind of thing you humans would say!"

Just the bigoted pedophile promoters...

Oh, sorry, does that comment make me a hate group?