i came across an interesting article on cnn.com. health columnist elizabeth landau cites a new study that suggests that atheism and liberalism are indicators of an elevated i.q., as is sexual exclusivity in men (but not women).
evolutionary psychologist satoshi kanazawa at the the london school of economics and political science explained the results this way:
The reasoning is that sexual exclusivity in men, liberalism and atheism all go against what would be expected given humans’ evolutionary past. In other words, none of these traits would have benefited our early human ancestors, but higher intelligence may be associated with them.
george washington university leadership professor james bailey adds:
The adoption of some evolutionarily novel ideas makes some sense in terms of moving the species forward. It also makes perfect sense that more intelligent people — people with, sort of, more intellectual firepower — are likely to be the ones to do that…These preferences may stem from a desire to show superiority or elitism, which also has to do with IQ. In fact, aligning oneself with “unconventional” philosophies such as liberalism or atheism may be ways to communicate to everyone that you’re pretty smart.
as to religion, specifically, kanazawa has more to say:
Religion, the current theory goes, did not help people survive or reproduce necessarily, but goes along the lines of helping people to be paranoid. Assuming that, for example, a noise in the distance is a signal of a threat helped early humans to prepare in case of danger. It helps life to be paranoid, and because humans are paranoid, they become more religious, and they see the hands of God everywhere…Historically, anything that’s new and different can be seen as a threat in terms of the religious beliefs; almost all religious systems are about permanence.
now, i realize i’m a little slow, but let me try to get this straight…
atheists tend to buck the trend–to go against the evolutionary pull–and this proves their superior intelligence. the very act of living life makes religious people “paranoid” and there is really nothing they can do about it because they’re simply not bright enough. witty people explore the mysteries of the universe. dull people, on the other hand, park their brains in the god garage.
please allow me, your humble host, to editorialize.
if you are a christian and this study makes you uncomfortable, then 1.) you have totally missed the point, and 2.) you don’t understand the most fundamental premise of the gospel. you see, religious people may seek safety and normalcy, but christ-followers never do. christians may worry about what others think of them, but those who have abandoned all to follow jesus do not. the american church preaches a message of balance and moderation, but the kingdom that jesus preached could never be described as “balanced”…his is a gospel of radicality. i love the way mark buchanan describes it: “the holy wild.”
so if maintaining status-quo and herding together with the majority like cattle (academia’s description of conservatives and evangelicals) is a sign of feeblemindedness, then leaving all to follow jesus is the sure sign of a genius.
can you think of a more “unconventional philosophy“?