Does Belief in God Make You Smarter? (Part 2 of 2)

Conclusion of yesterday’s column.

Other research throughout the years has strongly suggested that most of us do not use nearly the capacity for intelligence that we possess. Those who do use their full intelligence stand out as the great innovators and discoverers of history, often altering mankind’s destiny for generations beyond what any supernatural force has provably done.

Imagine two people stranded on a desert island. One is told to simply trust in an all-powerful god to guide him, and ensure survival under these difficult and dangerous conditions.

The other is told that there is no god; it’s all up to him to survive by his wits, his action and his reasoning intelligence.

Each person chooses to believe what he’s told. Which one do you think will come out of the whole experience with a higher level of intelligence – much less survive?

For most, life is not necessarily survival on a desolate island. But the principle is the same. Man survives by the use of his self-generated, self-motivated and self-sustained, reasoning intelligence.

It doesn’t matter whether greater minds have discovered knowledge he can use. If he doesn’t use his reason, he won’t benefit from any knowledge, not knowledge discovered by others, and not any he manages to discover on his own.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that a religious person is automatically stupid. There are plenty of religious people who have achieved great things.

But it seems reasonable to assume that such people achieve and develop intelligence in spite of their religious convictions, not because of them.

It also doesn’t follow that a non-religious person will always be rational. A non-believer could be a drunken lazy bum, and would therefore have to live off the rationality of others. Such enabling by others will arise from a religious belief that self-sacrifice for others is a requirement. In such a case, the nonbeliever indirectly benefits from the religious attitudes of those who feed and clothe him.

Religions differ, but they usually stress the importance of an all-powerful being combined with an all-important afterlife.

Compared to God, man’s reason is humble and even pathetic. Compared to the afterlife, 50 or even 90 years on earth pales in comparison to eternity. Why bother with life on earth when it’s the afterlife that really counts?

Religions have their arguments for denying this, but it’s the inevitable consequence of religious belief.

All ideas have psychological consequences. The extent to which you buy into religious beliefs inevitably impairs your self-fulfillment and self-actualization as a human being, including the development of your intelligence. It’s not a popular view, but it’s a credible one. And it appears that some research, done by a few who dare to take on such an issue, is supporting it.

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