This article appeared on the Examiner.com website on June 6. 2015. It was written by Staks Rosch.
As an atheist, one of my biggest issues with the Abrahamic religions is that they perpetuate a culture of anti-intellectualism. It isn’t hard to miss. For example, it is no surprise that the large numbers of evangelical Christians in America are ignorant and proud. The fact that one of the most idiotic President in our nation’s history (George W. Bush) was elected mainly because of the support of Christian fundamentalists speaks volumes. Not to mention that within the Republican Party there is continually a race to the intellectual bottom with most candidates and politicians touting their religious beliefs and conviction.
A quick look back at history also shows that the Church and various organized religions have done everything they could to restrict science and knowledge. At every stage of scientific achievement, fervent religious believers were always there persecuting those who wished to expand human knowledge and human progress. One of the humanities biggest loses came pretty early on too. In 415 CE a Christian mob brutally murdered Hypatia of Alexandria. I would go into more details about the brutality of that murder, but it is a bit graphic. Needless to say, it was much more brutal than what Christians often describe as the “Passion of Christ.” She was one of the bright lights of science in her time. Even today, almost half of Christians in America stand against the scientific theories of evolution, the big bang, and global climate change. Many religious believers even oppose scientific medical advances like stem cell research, vaccines, and blood transfusions.
The fact is, that the more religious someone is the less value they tend to place on science and education. According to the National Academy of Sciences, 93% of scientists express disbelief or doubt in the existence of a personal deity. 72% outright disbelieve in a personified deity. These are among the brightest minds on Earth. Both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking (widely considered the two smartest men who every lived) had issue with the personified deity of the Abrahamic religions. These men joined the company of many of the most intellectual founding fathers such as Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, among other.
The concept of “faith” is a slap in the face to science and intellectual curiosity. Faith stops questions while science encourages questions. Faith provides dishonest, unsupportable, and unquestioned certainty while science leaves every conclusion open to re-evaluation with additional evidence and discoveries. With faith, no education is necessary. In fact, education seems to often be a determent to faith. This is one of the biggest reasons why Christian fundamentalists are so keen on homeschooling so that they can control the information their children are exposed to. Even in the Bible, the character of Jesus elevates blind faith above intellectual rigor, reason, and evidence.
“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.” – John 20: 29
This is not the only instance in which the Bible attacks the intellect. Corinthians is full of such examples. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” – 1 Corinthians 1:27 and “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:5. There are many more examples where those came from. Just pick up your Bible and read it for yourself.
Science, reason, and intellectualism support the concepts of continued questioning, education, and human curiosity. Through the scientific method, the rules of logic, and the thirst to understand, people of reason are continually pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and helping to make life better and longer for us all. Yet, example after example, the Bible and the Abrahamic religions stand against the intellect and continue to propagate ignorance, fear, and unreason. Between the Creation Museum and the absolute unquestioning certainty of a divine deity, religion remains one of the biggest oppositions to human progress and the greatest threat to intellectualism and humanity’s continued survival on this planet.
Religion often starts with the conclusion and then tries to find justifications for that conclusion. Science and intellectualism on the other hand start with curiosity and then form conclusions based on the evidence and even those conclusions can be re-evaluated if new evidence comes to light.