“My story is almost always met with surprise: How could and atheist convert to Christianity at Harvard, the bastion of secular intellectual elitism.” This is the opening line of an article written by Jordan Monge in which she questions the findings of a study entitled The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations. The research in question covered 63 studies on religion and intelligence conducted over eighty years and found that, statistically speaking; the more intelligent a person was the more likely they were to reject religious teachings.
Analyzing 63 studies conducted over eighty years is a significant undertaking. I usually find those who do such research have a point they want to prove. That is, they find what they are looking for, which helps to bolster their reputation and maintain the flow of financial support for their research.
Monge is quick to point this out, “The way they framed their study suggests an implicit bias in the way scholars think about religion.” Monge shows this view is confirmed by Frank Furerdi, an atheist sociologist, when he says, “Secular researchers are likely to discover what they already suspect…social science research turns into advocacy research.” Like Mark Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things, statistics are much more pliable.” Statistics can be twisted to prove most anything you want them to say.
Monge goes on to make the case that even if a statistical correlation exists it does not prove causation. While this is a common attack on statistical conclusions, she states her case cogently, “Just because intelligent people are less likely to be religious doesn’t mean that their brilliance causes them to reject religion.” And what about men like Saint Augustine, Sir Isaac Newton, and C. S. Lewis to name a few? No one would claim these men were mental midgets, but their intellect did not stand between them and faith in God.
Monge goes on to make a very good argument that brains and belief are not necessarily antithetical in her article Why Intelligent People Are Less Likely to Be Religious: And how our expectations for Christians in education are changing published in the Christian Post online edition. The article was very readable and informative. Her closing statement made me realize our college bound high school grads may not be in as much danger as we suspect, “the university taught me to think rationally, to question well, to delight in knowledge, it was the best place I could come to learn how to worship God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind.”
It has been my experience that most people who claim to be atheists, retreat from it when confronted with the impossibility of proving a negative. You cannot logically prove something does not exist, because the evidence that it does not exist, is equally non-existent. So then they claim to be agnostics; they don’t know if God exists. But if they are honest with themselves, like Antony Flew, discoveries in the realm of science make a strong circumstantial argument for the existence of an intelligent Designer. This leads one to embrace Deism, as Flew did. And I suspect, if he had lived long enough, Flew would have become a Christian theist.
Everything in that last paragraph may have been, in part, why the psalmist wrote, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God” Psalm 14:1. It is illogical or foolish to say there is no God. The reason people reject the God of the Bible is not for intellectual reasons, but for moral reasons. People who reject the knowledge of God do so because they want to live their life as they choose and please without the interference of biblical morality.
Paul tells us “of men who suppress the truth [God’s existence] in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” Romans 1:18-19. This is the truth of the matter; man rejects the existence of God, even though he knows He does exist, because to admit His existence would be to admit the morality of the Scriptures. The rejection of God is for moral reasons, not intellectual ones.
This is why Paul goes on to write, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” Romans 1:22.