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  #71  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:35 PM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

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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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I also took my statistics from adherents.com and they placed the % of non-religeous God worldwide at 16% and if you add budhism (which is not based on a supreme being) it is more like 22%. They state the population of atheists/agnostics in the US at between 3-9% (very strange range). See links below.

As for Larsen, again, "scientists" is a very "cherry picked" portion of the population of intelligent people. A portion which has historically been at odds with the Church for centuries, and almost religeously empirical only in there evaluation of any proposition.

http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_atheist.html


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

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  #72  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:47 PM
tame_deuces tame_deuces 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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This explains a lot. I'll grant that they are potentially extremely useful, but smarter...nah. That just sounds like inbred arrogance to me.
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  #73  
Old 11-07-2007, 04:48 PM
Phil153 Phil153 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

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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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What about people who are living right now?

Your stipulation "since the 1600s or so" is interesting. The thing is, prior to discovery of evolution, cells, the brain, the age of the earth, an understanding of emergence, and the universe beyond our solar system, it was almost reasonable to believe in a designer of some sort. Just like it was entirely reasonable for natives of just about every civilization to believe that the weather was caused by spirits or Gods or that sickness was caused by demons or God's displeasure (as opposed to tiny men multiplying in your bodily fluids). In the absence of a causative link, or even a plausible theory, people default to putting familiar purpose on things.

The thing is, God is the default position, and was especially in the 1600s in the West. Just like in a Muslim country, belief in Muhammed was/is default. Or in India, belief in Hinduism. People of centuries past were raised with Christianity as truth. They were indoctrinated with all kinds of strange tales such as Noah's flood, and taught them as absolute fact. Social pressures and reinforcements kept them believing (not to mention, the threat of being accused of heresy).

So to become an atheist, someone has to first see, and then be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is no God as defined by Christianity. Only recently did the knowledge of our world become sufficient that God was expelled from most of his hidey-holes, and biblical stories once presented as fact were shown to blatant falsehoods, nothing more than the tales of silly tribes wandering the desert.

Comparing the 1600s is like asking the smartest four year olds if they believe in Santa. They simply don't know enough about the world to know if Santa is possible or likely, and the Santa belief is reinforced by all those around them. Plus, presents magically appear under the tree! Even the smartest don't have the tools to find a way out of that one.

The 1900s is like asking a kid who's 10 or so - he's learnt so much about his world that he can start to make informed commentary about things he can't see.

And I'm not sure about the situation in the OP - perhaps intelligence was also correlated with atheism in the 1600s.

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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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Do you find the almost universal tendency to attribute the weather to God(s) interesting as well? Because it's exactly the same mechanism. People tend to humanize and add conscious purpose to things they don't understand. They used to do that with just about everything we now know to be purely indifferent mechanics. It seems that everywhere a light is shone into a dark area of human knowledge, God disappears, scuttling like a cockroach to his next hiding place.
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  #74  
Old 11-07-2007, 05:31 PM
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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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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I'm not assuming that logic does not apply. I read DS's statement as, "we know very little about what's happening or happened outside of our universe, so let's not assume too much" and therefore found it an odd specification. I was honestly curious about his reasoning and didn't mean to imply that it was wrong.
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  #75  
Old 11-07-2007, 06:09 PM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

Phil, I agree belief in God seems to be a default position. Clearly there is a very large social component to this, and to some degree a component of convenience of explanation. I tend to think there is more at work-- especially when it comes to notions of "good and evil".

As to your remarks about thinkers of past eras, I strongly disagree. Questions of this nature have been dissected by some incredible minds for milleniums. And, I don't think most of the thought hinges on totally primative notions. People all over the world have been using math to predict and scientific methodology to track the unknown for such a long time...see the many very precise astrological calculalations and structures based on those calculations throughtout the ancient world. People have been bringing reasoning, observation and rational thought to bear on these issues for many many centuries. Moreover, the dominant religeons have not been about "explaining the weather" for milleniums as well. The teachings of Jesus are almost entirely philisophical and have nothing to do with explaining the weather, or attempts to establish theocracy-- far from it.

Don't get me wrong, science has dispelled a great deal of mythology, but count me amongst the people that the more they understand of the Universe, the more persuaded they are of the existence of an architectural force, AND the more my experience leads me to believe that there is an aspect of conciousness that exceeds any laws of physics or biology.
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  #76  
Old 11-07-2007, 06:17 PM
madnak madnak is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

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I also took my statistics from adherents.com and they placed the % of non-religeous God worldwide at 16% and if you add budhism (which is not based on a supreme being) it is more like 22%. They state the population of atheists/agnostics in the US at between 3-9% (very strange range). See links below.

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Right, .com not .org.

But I'm not talking about agnostics. I'm talking about atheists. From the main ranking page on the secular/nonreligious/agnostic/atheist section:

"This is a highly disparate group and not a single religion. Although atheists are a small subset of this grouping, this category is not synonymous with atheism. People who specify atheism as their religious preference actually make up less than one-half of one percent of the population in many countries where much large numbers claim no religious preference, such as the United States."

This figure is validated in other places. The standard of self-described atheism is a bit different in practice (but not in theory) from the standard of disbelief in God (used in the scientist survey), and you might argue that as much as 2% of the population fits the "disbelief" standard. I say you're mincing words, but even if top scientists are "only" 25 times more likely to be atheists, that's something. I think your explanation is satisfactory based on what we know now, but the discrepancy is certainly huge enough to merit some investigation.
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  #77  
Old 11-07-2007, 06:30 PM
Phil153 Phil153 is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

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Questions of this nature have been dissected by some incredible minds for milleniums.

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Incredible minds with barely any knowledge about anything. I'm not sure that people realize the amazing leap in understanding that has happened in the last two centuries. We take the knowledge of genes, germs, evolution, geology, meteorology, cosmology, the brain, microscopy and so on for granted these days. They didn't exist a few hundred years ago. All people knew was a mysterious world and an even more mysterious "heavens", where nothing really made sense without a designer. Thus the God hypothesis was perfectly reasonable.

Now, we have a direct and strong link between almost everything we know and the basic laws of physics. Almost every spot where God was hypothesized has been shown to be not God at all. That should give any thinking man incredible pause when invoking God for the mysterious. No other hypothesis in the history of mankind has such a horrible record at being wrong.

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Don't get me wrong, science has dispelled a great deal of mythology, but count me amongst the people that the more they understand of the Universe, the more persuaded they are of the existence of an architectural force

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The universe is awe inspiring and miraculous, but it's also fundamentally strange. The odds of it conforming to simplistic human understanding and expectation (i.e. a conscious dad-like figure who loves us made the world) is minuscule. The Copernican Principle has been validated over and over and the God hypothesis has been crushed again and again.

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Moreover, the dominant religeons have not been about "explaining the weather" for milleniums as well.

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Of course not. But the idea is the same - people invoke a conscious entity behind forces or structures they can't understand. Western knowledge has just set the bar at a different point.

Consciousness remains a mystery, I agree, but a lot less than it once was with a direct link between basic physics and the intelligence via the brain and its cells. If you want to invoke God in the last remaining mysteries of life, that's fair enough. But be aware that people have been doing exactly that for thousands of years, and history has made fools of them.

And a final point...why God? Why can't the universe just "be", without invoking retarded notions of a conscious entity that we can relate to? If God exists, the concept of God is not God.
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  #78  
Old 11-07-2007, 06:43 PM
Mendacious Mendacious is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

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I also took my statistics from adherents.com and they placed the % of non-religeous God worldwide at 16% and if you add budhism (which is not based on a supreme being) it is more like 22%. They state the population of atheists/agnostics in the US at between 3-9% (very strange range). See links below.

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Right, .com not .org.

But I'm not talking about agnostics. I'm talking about atheists. From the main ranking page on the secular/nonreligious/agnostic/atheist section:

"This is a highly disparate group and not a single religion. Although atheists are a small subset of this grouping, this category is not synonymous with atheism. People who specify atheism as their religious preference actually make up less than one-half of one percent of the population in many countries where much large numbers claim no religious preference, such as the United States."

This figure is validated in other places. The standard of self-described atheism is a bit different in practice (but not in theory) from the standard of disbelief in God (used in the scientist survey), and you might argue that as much as 2% of the population fits the "disbelief" standard. I say you're mincing words, but even if top scientists are "only" 25 times more likely to be atheists, that's something. I think your explanation is satisfactory based on what we know now, but the discrepancy is certainly huge enough to merit some investigation.

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I am willing to accept that a much larger percentage of scientists (most of whom are highly intelligent) are atheist than the general population. As to whether this is a persuasive argument that God does not exist, I don't believe it is very conclusive, but it does make interesting fodder for discussion/investigation. As I have said in other posts, I would expect this correlation with intelligence to some degree, that it is as high as it is amongst scientists either suggests HUGE bias, or merits further consideration.
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  #79  
Old 11-07-2007, 06:53 PM
madnak madnak is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Atheism

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I am willing to accept that a much larger percentage of scientists (most of whom are highly intelligent) are atheist than the general population. As to whether this is a persuasive argument that God does not exist, I don't believe it is very conclusive, but it does make interesting fodder for discussion/investigation.

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I don't think it's much of an argument. It's certainly no more convincing to me than "most people are religious, so religion must be correct."

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As I have said in other posts, I would expect this correlation with intelligence to some degree, that it is as high as it is amongst scientists either suggests HUGE bias, or merits further consideration.

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I agree. I think it merits investigation regardless of religious persepctive. We don't understand much about how people form their beliefs, so it's possible that these anomalies can teach us something.
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  #80  
Old 11-07-2007, 07:27 PM
CrayZee CrayZee is offline
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Default Re: Atheism Intelligence Correlations - The Strongest Argument for Ath

Proof by authority heuristic?

How much should the avg person appeal to this? 80%? So when someone says, "Do you believe in God?" They can say, "Absolutely, 20%."

What about something like global warming?
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