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  #61  
Old 11-06-2007, 06:15 PM
David Sklansky David Sklansky is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

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I am not much persuaded by this argument.

A 6 point difference between the IQ's of atheists and "believers" of some sort does not really impress me. The fact that the atheists win 103 to 97 is slightly interesting but not decisive on the ultimate question.

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The average difference is irrelevant. Very high IQs actually get very low representation that way - the IQ scale is statistical, higher IQs are more rare by definition. Therefore those in the 100 range are going to represent the majority, by definition. Even if everyone with a 150+ IQ is atheist, the mean difference between atheists and theists may be relatively small. We're looking at how the tendency toward atheism grows with intelligence, and mashing things together into an average isn't a good way to look at that. The correlation is relevant, not the mean difference.

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Moreover, I would be willing to wager that if it were possible to ascertain the total number of people that are 2 standard deviations from the mean (which I think is the definition of genuis) since the 1600's or so, the number of atheists would be dwarfed by the number of those who believed in some sort of God.

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This is also irrelevant. In a general population that is >99.99% nominally religious, of course any subset of the population is going to contain more theists than atheists. The question is whether the proportion of atheists in the subset is consistent with the proportion of atheists in the general population. If only 0.01% of the general population are atheists, then if even 1% of scientists are unbelievers atheists are over represented by a factor of 100. That is, very smart people are 100 times more likely to be atheists. And I think you would find this to be true since 1600. It has certainly been true since Leuba's time.


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Your two perfectly correct points are themselves good exmples of why highly intelligent people are so much more likely to get things right. Both your points immediately struck me as well when I first read the post you were refuting, even as I realized most people wouldn't see it. In fact most people will have difficulty seeing it even after reading your post.
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  #62  
Old 11-07-2007, 11:32 AM
MrBlah MrBlah is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

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A non omnipotent intelligent designer of some sort, who had something to do with the big bang, the laws of physics, and perhaps even the existence of consciousness, is reasonably likely in my mind. It will be less likely if conscious computers are ever made. Less likely still if the double slit experiment is ever explained better.

[/ QUOTE ] What makes you think that this designer would be non omnipotent? Why would our rules of logic also apply outside of our universe?
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  #63  
Old 11-07-2007, 12:13 PM
Alex-db Alex-db is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

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A non omnipotent intelligent designer of some sort, who had something to do with the big bang, the laws of physics, and perhaps even the existence of consciousness, is reasonably likely in my mind. It will be less likely if conscious computers are ever made. Less likely still if the double slit experiment is ever explained better.

[/ QUOTE ] What makes you think that this designer would be non omnipotent? Why would our rules of logic also apply outside of our universe?

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Because omnipotence is a rediculous super-power and we have no indication its possible for anything to posses it; at the moment its nothing more than a word that humans made up.

Why assume logic would not apply?
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  #64  
Old 11-07-2007, 01:10 PM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

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I am not much persuaded by this argument.

A 6 point difference between the IQ's of atheists and "believers" of some sort does not really impress me. The fact that the atheists win 103 to 97 is slightly interesting but not decisive on the ultimate question.

[/ QUOTE ]

The average difference is irrelevant. Very high IQs actually get very low representation that way - the IQ scale is statistical, higher IQs are more rare by definition. Therefore those in the 100 range are going to represent the majority, by definition. Even if everyone with a 150+ IQ is atheist, the mean difference between atheists and theists may be relatively small. We're looking at how the tendency toward atheism grows with intelligence, and mashing things together into an average isn't a good way to look at that. The correlation is relevant, not the mean difference.

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Moreover, I would be willing to wager that if it were possible to ascertain the total number of people that are 2 standard deviations from the mean (which I think is the definition of genuis) since the 1600's or so, the number of atheists would be dwarfed by the number of those who believed in some sort of God.

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This is also irrelevant. In a general population that is >99.99% nominally religious, of course any subset of the population is going to contain more theists than atheists. The question is whether the proportion of atheists in the subset is consistent with the proportion of atheists in the general population. If only 0.01% of the general population are atheists, then if even 1% of scientists are unbelievers atheists are over represented by a factor of 100. That is, very smart people are 100 times more likely to be atheists. And I think you would find this to be true since 1600. It has certainly been true since Leuba's time.


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Your two perfectly correct points are themselves good exmples of why highly intelligent people are so much more likely to get things right. Both your points immediately struck me as well when I first read the post you were refuting, even as I realized most people wouldn't see it. In fact most people will have difficulty seeing it even after reading your post.

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I'm not sure how either of these responses was a "refutation". On the first point, we were in agreement, the slight difference around the "fat part" of the bell curve is NOT persuasive of anything.

As to the second point, I questioned the breadth of the data. His saying (falaciously) that 99.9% of the general population is nominally religeous is NOT a refutation, it is just a false statement. And making up data that "very smart people" are 100 times more likely to be atheists isn't either-- though if it were true it would have a lot more persuasive value and I would agree.

The two studies that I looked at dealt with atheism and the average intelligence of populations, AND an incredibly small sample of the intelligent population's (namely scientists and academicians, whose fields tend to promote strict empiricism) beliefs. I don't think I could cherry pick a group more inclined to be atheist and intelligent.

My point in bringing up the 15th Century was to raise the following questions:

1) Excluding scientific knowledge, are the "geniuses" of today posess any greater reasoning capacity than the "geniuses" of prior eras. (I would say negligbly if any).

2) To what extent have advancements in science provided any conclusive evidence for or against a divine being responsible for creation-- assuming that is a minimal definition of "God" shared by the predominate religions of our time. (I would say science has shed no light on this at all, but those more inclined towards science would probably disagree, or find the lack of evidence more compelling).

But assuming both of these points to be true, AND that the geniuses of today are less likely to believe in God, how does this change the interpretation of the data? I would argue it has more to do with the "training" of geniuses of different eras, and that therefore this has more to do with a bias towards a certain type of education and methodology than any greater power of reasoning. Especially since the "geniuses' surveyed invariably are the MOST rigorous adherants to the methodology of the day.

I will put it one final way.

I would assume that the greater one's capacity to comprehend and explain the world in empirical terms, the LESS accepting they are of the propositions that some things defy comprehension or explaination in empirical terms.

When no one is left that believes in God, we will have become him.
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  #65  
Old 11-07-2007, 02:32 PM
ZeeJustin ZeeJustin is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

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1) Excluding scientific knowledge, are the "geniuses" of today posess any greater reasoning capacity than the "geniuses" of prior eras.

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Does evidence that the exodus never happened count as non scientific knowledge? Do statistics of how many religions there are (which is PROOF that the vast majority of people are wrong) count as non scientific knowledge? Etc.

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2) To what extent have advancements in science provided any conclusive evidence for or against a divine being responsible for creation-- assuming that is a minimal definition of "God" shared by the predominate religions of our time.

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God(s) was often invented just to explain the unexplainable. Science shows we can explain almost everything.

Science has effectively refuted basically every major religion, whether it be through carbon dating, evolution, or even finding grammatical errors in the Qur'an.

So I would say yes, science has shed A LOT on the matter at hand, and there is more reason now than there ever has been before to not believe in god. Even most theists will admit that is true, especially those that disagree with evolution, and think evolution is not compatible with Christianity.

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I would assume that the greater one's capacity to comprehend and explain the world in empirical terms, the LESS accepting they are of the propositions that some things defy comprehension or explanation in empirical terms.

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I find it baffling that you use this as reason to believe that there probably is a God.
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  #66  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:04 PM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

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1) Excluding scientific knowledge, are the "geniuses" of today posess any greater reasoning capacity than the "geniuses" of prior eras.

[/ QUOTE ]

Does evidence that the exodus never happened count as non scientific knowledge? Do statistics of how many religions there are (which is PROOF that the vast majority of people are wrong) count as non scientific knowledge? Etc.

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2) To what extent have advancements in science provided any conclusive evidence for or against a divine being responsible for creation-- assuming that is a minimal definition of "God" shared by the predominate religions of our time.

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God(s) was often invented just to explain the unexplainable. Science shows we can explain almost everything.

Science has effectively refuted basically every major religion, whether it be through carbon dating, evolution, or even finding grammatical errors in the Qur'an.

So I would say yes, science has shed A LOT on the matter at hand, and there is more reason now than there ever has been before to not believe in god. Even most theists will admit that is true, especially those that disagree with evolution, and think evolution is not compatible with Christianity.

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I would assume that the greater one's capacity to comprehend and explain the world in empirical terms, the LESS accepting they are of the propositions that some things defy comprehension or explanation in empirical terms.

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I find it baffling that you use this as reason to believe that there probably is a God.

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I'm not sure you understood my point in 1) My point was are we possessed of greater reasoning capacity as a species than we were 400 years ago? I suspect not.

2) There is definitely a lot of truth to your second point. I guess I don't see this necessarily as a refutation of God, rather than more of a chrystalization of what the concept must embody-- or a seperation of the unnecessary and false. It certainly should explode a lot of false notions about God in any rational person.

3) I didn't set out to prove God's existance or provide reasons for it. I was simply trying to point out where I saw problems with the persuasiveness of your point. I viewed it as a virtual truism that the MORE you can explain the less likely you are to believe in the unexplainable...(which coincides's perfectly with the statistics) however this very natural correlation sheds absolutely no light whatsoever on whether God exists. It is just a natural confidence that one derives from believing he has it all figured out.

As for myself, I struggle to know if there is a God, and what is his/her nature. I really don't presume to know. I can understand how some would unequivically believe in God, especially those who feel they have experienced contact firsthadn, and I can understand how some would be agnostic. Atheism makes no sense to me at all. But I don't think it is bad, just puzzling and sad.

I find Human's almost universal tendancy to believe in an external source for concepts of "higher" morality, and to attribute creation to a "being" to be fascinating. I am frustrated that I will never be able to undo the fact that these concepts are also very socialized, but I feel that they are innate as well. We seem wired to believe in God, and that certainly gives me reason to inquire further into understanding of why.
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  #67  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:14 PM
madnak madnak is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

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As to the second point, I questioned the breadth of the data. His saying (falaciously) that 99.9% of the general population is nominally religeous

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In Europe in 1600. When the penalty for heresy is death, people tend to say they're religious. I don't think there exist any actual statistical data so 99.99% is obviously speculative (as is 1%). The goal was to have something appropriate for the era and with the same ratio as today.

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is NOT a refutation, it is just a false statement. And making up data that "very smart people" are 100 times more likely to be atheists isn't either-- though if it were true it would have a lot more persuasive value and I would agree.

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Dude, less than .5% of the general population in the US are atheists. But almost 50% of the scientists (considerably more of the top scientists) are. This is based on adherents.org and the Larson/Witham study discussed in this thread.

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1) Excluding scientific knowledge, are the "geniuses" of today posess any greater reasoning capacity than the "geniuses" of prior eras. (I would say negligbly if any).

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I think people are much, much smarter today than they have ever been in the past.

As for the rest, I don't much care.
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  #68  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:16 PM
madnak madnak is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

Oh also, the position of some on these boards is that scientists and mathematicians are the smartest people in the world. The point in the OP is probably being made on the basis of that assumption.
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  #69  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:20 PM
ZeeJustin ZeeJustin is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

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Oh also, the position of some on these boards is that scientists and mathematicians are the smartest people in the world. The point in the OP is probably being made on the basis of that assumption.

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I don't like the way you phrased it, but I think they are MUCH smarter than average, and their profession makes them even more likely to be right than their intelligence would indicate.
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  #70  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:29 PM
madnak madnak is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

Well, they're almost all "geniuses" by Mendacious's standard.
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