Is religion anti-intellectual?

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The Flat Earth

There exists today a small group of like-minded people called the Flat Earth Society. The members of this society continue to deny the logical arguments and plentiful empirical evidence for a spherical Earth, and instead believe the world we live on is a flat disc. The sun and moon are small discs about 30 miles in diameter, which move across the "cosmos" or star-field. Viewed from above, it would look something like this:

image

Imagine you were a parent of a school-age child, and had learned that their Geography teacher was a member of the Flat Earth Society. Would you be happy with this? Or would you immediately contact the school to insist that your child be transferred to a different class? I suspect that most people here would choose the second option: somebody who believes that the Earth is flat clearly cannot be trusted to give credible or authentic teaching on any aspect of Geography. Some of us, I feel, would go one step further and say that somebody who is so deluded[1] cannot be trusted to teach any academic subject. We demand that our educators display qualities such as intellectual integrity, an awareness of modern science, and a respect for the techniques of the Scientific Method.

Religion - the public face of Flat Earth thinking

The idea that you could have a Flat-Earther teaching your child Geography is laughable. And yet, in modern, 21st Century schools, children are being taught by:

- History teachers who believe the Earth is 6000 years old
- Biology teachers who believe that a virgin gave birth and a man rose from the dead
- Humanities teachers who think that homosexuals are going to Hell
- Science teachers who deny evolution and who think that fossils were placed on Earth to test our faith
- Food science teachers who think you will be punished for eating pork or shellfish
- Electronics teachers who believe it is sinful to turn on a lightswitch on a Saturday

Can you see where I'm going with this?

It's acceptable to mock Flat-Earthers for their beliefs, and to make disparaging deductions about their intelligence or reasoning skills.

But members of mainstream religions, who believe (often literally) religious texts that contradict modern science, law and ethics are for some reason exempt from this scrutiny. Why this inconsistency?

I have, of course, picked some rather extreme examples to make my point. But my point stands: would you be happy entrusting your child's education to somebody, whose faith requires them to hold as true and unalterable, a world-view and set of personal ethics that are incompatible with many of the foundations of education?

Counter-arguments

"You're speaking from a position of Judeo-Christian bias! What about all the other religions?"

Yes, the criticisms I gave previously are mostly derived from the religions I know most about, namely the Abrahamaic faiths. I don't think this is unreasonable in the context of the Western world (and western schooling system). In the USA, for example, Abrahamaic faiths account for over 80% of the population[2]. In the UK, about 75% of people identify themselves as part of an Abrahamaic faith[3]. Additionally, in the UK increasing numbers of ethinc minority pupils are attending faith schools (typically Catholic, Church of England, Islamic or Hindu).

"Hey, you're saying religious people are stupid! I'm religious and I'm not stupid! What about all the religious scientists, like Einstein?"

I'm not saying all or even most religious people are stupid. So how can we reconcile the belief in supernatural deities, and often literal belief in miracles and such, with the fact that many religious people are well-educated and perfectly productive members of society? I think that this is evidence of mental compartmentalisation. Many religious people don't, I suspect, go through their daily lives actually believing that they are constantly being watched over, protected and judged by the personified, interventionalist god of scripture. Religion and culture are so closely linked that often the former may as well be synonymous with the latter, and a great number of intelligent "religious" people may actually just be cultural adherents of the faith.

That's still not to say that I think religion should have amy more role in education than to be studied, objectively, as an academic subject.

What do other Escapists think?

[1] The use of the word "deluded" here is correct; meaning "a view held in the face of contradictory evidence"

I would say yes.

To hold a religion, you have to believe that certain things are true, beyond any doubt whatsoever. This runs contrary to what we would consider intellectual, which requires you to be able to change your beliefs depending on evidence.

Now, how anti-intellecutal it is, and how much of a problem it is compared with various different flaws in thinking people are subject to is another matter.

...

On the other hand, if someone were to believe in religion doctrime, but were willing to abandon it if new evidence proved them wrong...does that count as religion or is that a form of science?

Great post, great post! Thank you!

Batou667:

It's acceptable to mock Flat-Earthers for their beliefs, and to make disparaging deductions about their intelligence or reasoning skills.

But members of mainstream religions, who believe (often literally) religious texts that contradict modern science, law and ethics are for some reason exempt from this scrutiny. Why this inconsistency?

Yes, this is something that bothers me so incredibly often. The huge cognitive dissonances of some people here, or just plain hypocrisy...
Is something done in the name of religion? Defend it! Can it be accomodated? We MUST tolerate it! Even if we need to discriminate between non-religious and religious people, we don't give a shit, we must tolerate religion!
Oh, bestiality. Tolerate the forms of bestiality that don't hurt animals? Oh no we can't do that. Blabla morality, blabla it's the law.

It's quite simple.
You've got history, that's the collection of historical facts.
You've got philosophy, this is about morality and other problems that we try to solve using logic.
You've got science, trying to understand the universe we're living in.

The aspects of religion that are not covered by history, philosophy or science are 'explained' or 'proven' by blind faith. Blind faith is a symptom of indoctrination, in most cases. If something is important to you and it decides how you live, it's only support and underpinning shouldn't be 'blind faith', and we as a society certainly shouldn't respect it.

We live in a democracy. Other people have influence over you, but this influence should be rational. The pro-life movement and the anti-gay marriage movement certainly aren't rational, and we shouldn't tolerate or defend their influence over those important matters.

EDIT: I just looked at your picture and had to tell you something.

In Dutch, we have those word for Godly beings; 'bovenaards', Google translate says it's "empyreal" in English.
Aliens, extra-terrestrials, are called 'buitenaards'.

Boven=above, buiten=outside of.
Boven clearly uses a flat earth worldview, buiten is more modern.

But... if you believe in bovenaardse beings, you are religious and respected.
If you believe in buitenaardse beings, you are a f*cking weirdo and a lunatic.

EDIT2:

Batou667:

In the USA, for example, Abrahamaic faiths account for over 80% of the population]. In the UK, about 75% of people identify themselves as part of an Abrahamaic faith.

80%/75% of the population means that for religion statistics are even higher.
If 80% of your population believes in an Abrahamic faith and 15% is atheist, that means (80 / 85) * 100 = 94.1176471% of all religion is Abrahamic.

Batou667:
*flat Earth*

Really? I mean, yeah, such people probably exist (although I think a few of those groups are actually satirical), but the idea that the South Pole is ring-shaped like that is "easy enough" to disprove by crossing it ("easy" in however easy an Antarctic expedition is, but certainly not beyond our capabilities).

I suspect that most people here would choose the second option:

You bet.

I have, of course, picked some rather extreme examples to make my point. But my point stands: would you be happy entrusting your child's education to somebody, whose faith requires them to hold as true and unalterable, a world-view and set of personal ethics that are incompatible with many of the foundations of education?

Certainly not, but I'm neither a fundamentalist nor a moderate religious person (I think the latter group's responses to this question will be the most interesting ones).

I don't think this is unreasonable in the context of the Western world (and western schooling system).

I'd agree. It's wrong to overgeneralize and make claims along the lines of "all religions fall in that area" or "all interpretations of religion XYZ fall in that area", but it is quite justified to point out a proportionally large problem. Doesn't mean there can't be other religions or other interpretations of that religion. Doesn't mean this is the only problem that could exist. The only issue I might have is with using a broad term like "Abrahamic religion", since not only are they distinct enough to warrant individual evaluation, they also include variable enough subsets that warrant indiviudal evaluation, also. So the problem is less with Abrahamic religion, since many adherents of them believe in allegorical interpretations anyway, but with subsets thereof (and yes, all of them have their own fundamentalist literalistic subsets, I don't think any of them can really claim the absolute high ground).

Many religious people don't, I suspect, go through their daily lives actually believing that they are constantly being watched over, protected and judged by the personified, interventionalist god of scripture.

Even if they do, they might be perfectly capable of compartmentalization, of applying very different standards to their religion than to other things in their lives, which means that what I might consider an irrational belief in one area can coexist with a perfectly rational mindset on most or all other issues.

Well, it's certainly anti-scientific, as it so obviously violate the scientific method in establishing the framework of reality it's internal logic works within. Assuming an unfalsifiable "god" exist is not up to par, much less is assuming factually incorrect things which have actually been falsified to still be true.

Its adherents can devote themselves plenty of intellectual pursuits within these delusional premises though, so it's hardly anti-intellectual; Just speculating within an authoritative alternate perception of reality, which might charitably be called a "religion", and less charitably a "baseless delusion".

As for the logical inconsistency in what is mocked and what is respected, in spite of being equally delusional: Level of societal power, plain and simple.

The more Christianity's grasp on society weakens, the more it'll be subjected to the exact same criticism and ridicule people who with all their heart believe that a span of unicorns is pulling the sun would be (and who more importantly think this has relevance for others).

It really depends on the religion, what you put into it, and how you put into it.

Skeleon:
Really? I mean, yeah, such people probably exist (although I think a few of those groups are actually satirical), but the idea that the South Pole is ring-shaped like that is "easy enough" to disprove by crossing it ("easy" in however easy an Antarctic expedition is, but certainly not beyond our capabilities).

Magic my good man. Gods love instantly transports you to the other side of the world-disc, because he works in mysterious ways and knows where you need to be. But he also allows you to see the other side so you don't walk two feet then disappear from sight from your buddy who was 2 feet from you. And all those GPS devices and satellite images? Have you ever seen an image they've taken that wasn't 2D? Exactly!

It's why in all his infinite wisdom, he gave certain people a head start in the sinning tests and make then alergice to shellfish while he felt like dicking others by making them gay. Because all men are created equal by the divine god who knows it would be too easy to insure his laws are consistent, easily understood and timeless. And since he knew you were going to fuck up anyway, violated his own laws by impregnating a married virgin woman against her will with himself (who is also his son), then got himself killed, resurrected and transcended back into the sky to demonstrate that all you really need to do is feel bad about what you did and love him... platonically.

I fail to see how that isn't intellectual!

That was a really well written post.

Yeah, I'd say that religion is anti-intellectual, as if you already believe all the answers can be explained by a God, you can just invoke a supernatural power as an answer to any question. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't religious intellectuals, and some are amazing at what they do. I just believe that most religion doesn't exactly foster a culture of independent & unique thought. As always, there are exceptions.

Well, the eastern religions aren't exactly pro-intellectual either. Many don't regard reason as the philosophical 'end all be all' unlike in 'western'(and I use that loosely) philosophy where it has pretty much dominated.

That isn't to say the 'eastern'(again, used loosely) philosophy isn't valuable.

Abrahamic theology is actually pretty intellectually rigorous. A lot of the ideas come about from pretty creative trains of thinking however, if you view it in comparison to other disciplines -and are not willing to work in the frame of the assumptions necessary for it, which I think are arbitrary- I wouldn't feel like I was being dishonest by saying it is anti-intellectual.

On the other hand, that is often the point. For example, many of the prominent christian philosophers have made a point not to appeal to reason, instead thinking that other things were more philosophically valuable.

So, while anti-intellectual would be insulting to a secular philosopher, scientist, etc, Anti-intellectualism has actually been fairly popular as an idea.

I don't know if I've made my position clear in my post, but I do think anti-intellectualism is sily.

Firts the idea because someone has a personal beleif that may be silly or not not considered by most to be accurate idea does not give you the right to take thier job away. Schools are regulated to what you can teach and what you cant so its not like they can teach that to the students anyways.
Secound people are different. So different people have different ideas about all sort of things and no matter where you go in this world you will meet them. In fact if it was not for people who had crazy ideas most of the science we love so dearly would havenever happened. That being the case its terrible to think that you cannot expose a child to new ideas even if you think they are good. That is no different from a religouse family locking away there child so they wont be corrupted by the outside world.
Some of my best teachers have been religiouse people. Microbiology, Biology, Chemistry, and Hematology have all been taught to me by very religious people but guess what I still learned all the things I was supposed too. They never forced me to think anything that wasent part of the required information.
Remember folks too alot of the science we have today is just theroy in a few decades they find something new that blew everyones mind and changes science forever so dont get so dogmatic in what you believe is fact. It wasnt that long ago we belived that living things came from non living material and that the earth was flat.

Endersgate1321:
It wasnt that long ago we belived that living things came from non living material.

But that is where living things came from...Abiogenesis and such.

Some religions are, some aren't. Despite the current state of affairs, religion used to not only encourage but drive scientific discovery. Baghdad was at one time one of the greatest centers of learning in the world, driven by a belief that to understand the natural world was to come closer to understanding the will of Allah. The university system was started by the church. Science, or what we now know it as, has been around for as long as we have. It was the Enlightenment that marked the beginning of its separation from theology, a separation that didn't pick up much appreciable speed until the early 20th Century.

That said, now that science has shaken off the constraints put on it by the old tendency to use it only as a tool for confirming or clarifying what the theologians said, and has discovered that the theologians were dead wrong, religious establishments that are unwilling to admit that their old books are wrong have had to become anti-intellectual.

So yes, some are, some aren't.

And no, I don't think those who harbor delusional beliefs should be allowed to work as teachers. Delusion is counter to the very concept of learning and has no place in the classroom. However, given the political climate, and the affinity humans have for adopting delusions of all kinds and degrees, I'll settle for simply not letting people teach when they have delusions that impact the field they are teaching.

Batou667:

Imagine you were a parent of a school-age child, and had learned that their Geography teacher was a member of the Flat Earth Society. Would you be happy with this? Or would you immediately contact the school to insist that your child be transferred to a different class?

I suppose that depended on what the teacher was teaching my child. If the teacher was sticking to the curriculum instead of teaching whatever books might support the flat-earth theory. By the way, when I was a small child and they had those big flattened out maps with the whole globe on it I thought the world was shaped like that :D. Kids are cute, and so was I.

The idea that you could have a Flat-Earther teaching your child Geography is laughable. And yet, in modern, 21st Century schools, children are being taught by:

- History teachers who believe the Earth is 6000 years old
- Biology teachers who believe that a virgin gave birth and a man rose from the dead
- Humanities teachers who think that homosexuals are going to Hell
- Science teachers who deny evolution and who think that fossils were placed on Earth to test our faith
- Food science teachers who think you will be punished for eating pork or shellfish
- Electronics teachers who believe it is sinful to turn on a lightswitch on a Saturday

Can you see where I'm going with this?

It's acceptable to mock Flat-Earthers for their beliefs, and to make disparaging deductions about their intelligence or reasoning skills.

Once again I'll defer to what I said earlier about curriculum. Teachers can teach subjects which they don't agree with, or without injecting their own beliefs into the lessons. In fact I've had a biology teacher who believed that Mary gave birth the Jesus and he rose from the dead, but it didn't inhibit her ability to teach me about mitosis.

But members of mainstream religions, who believe (often literally) religious texts that contradict modern science, law and ethics are for some reason exempt from this scrutiny. Why this inconsistency?

Of course it should be scrutinized, and everyone should scrutinize everything that they believe in or think is true. Unfortunately people rarely feel the necessity to check their beliefs and it's not just religious folks. They rarely feel like checking the news they read, or the statistics people give.

"Hey, you're saying religious people are stupid! I'm religious and I'm not stupid! What about all the religious scientists, like Einstein?"

Justifying your own beliefs and intelligence by comparing it to another persons will only make you look stupid by comparison. :)

I'm not saying all or even most religious people are stupid. So how can we reconcile the belief in supernatural deities, and often literal belief in miracles and such, with the fact that many religious people are well-educated and perfectly productive members of society? I think that this is evidence of mental compartmentalisation. Many religious people don't, I suspect, go through their daily lives actually believing that they are constantly being watched over, protected and judged by the personified, interventionalist god of scripture. Religion and culture are so closely linked that often the former may as well be synonymous with the latter, and a great number of intelligent "religious" people may actually just be cultural adherents of the faith.

That's a very fair statement, it's certainly true for myself. However, I think this defeats whatever argument was being made about people with certain beliefs not being capable of teaching certain subject.

Obviously not. The notion is absurd. There have been many times in history where religious people have been the source of learning and intellectual development. The Dark Ages might never have ended if it weren't for Christian monks preserving texts in their monestaries or for Muslims in the Golden Age of Islam giving us such concepts as accurate astronomy, algebra, advanced (for their time) medical knowledge and of course Arabic numerals.

Batou667:
- History teachers who believe the Earth is 6000 years old
- Biology teachers who believe that a virgin gave birth and a man rose from the dead
- Humanities teachers who think that homosexuals are going to Hell
- Science teachers who deny evolution and who think that fossils were placed on Earth to test our faith
- Food science teachers who think you will be punished for eating pork or shellfish
- Electronics teachers who believe it is sinful to turn on a lightswitch on a Saturday

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Yes, I can. You're going to a fallacy where a handful of anecdotes (for which verification isn't even provided) from a handful of religions are used erroniously to represent religion as a whole.

It's complete bollocks.

But my point stands: would you be happy entrusting your child's education to somebody, whose faith requires them to hold as true and unalterable, a world-view and set of personal ethics that are incompatible with many of the foundations of education?

The foundations of education have absolutely nothing to do with a person's individual beliefs. I'm a teacher. I sometimes have to teach my students how to say things that I don't personally believe. And I like to think that I am a good teacher, so it doesn't matter if I believe these things or not. So if a student comes to me and wants help saying, "America is the Great Satan that must be destroyed!" I will help them say it correctly, because my job as an educator is not to make my students think like me, but to express themselves so they will be understood. Now part of that may entail helping my students to understand there are consequences to that expression that could cause further problems for them or might alienate their audience, but I'm not an editor of student ideas. The same should go for all branches of education. A science teacher should teach evolution because evolution is accepted science. If the science teacher does not do that because it conflicts with their beliefs, the problem is not their beliefs or the religion those beliefs come from (and certainly not the ludicrous claim that the fault is due to religion itself). That teacher is just a shitty teacher and should be fired.

I don't think this is unreasonable in the context of the Western world (and western schooling system).

Then I propose you need a refresher course in the principles of science. A generalization that is only right 80% of the time is an invalid generalization. Science is not horseshoes- you don't win the game by being "close enough." And of course your 80% is faulty because simply being a mmber of an Abrahamic religion does not require you to believe in any of the things you anecdotally criticise above.Good scientists don't stack the deck with false assumptions.

So how can we reconcile the belief in supernatural deities, and often literal belief in miracles and such, with the fact that many religious people are well-educated and perfectly productive members of society? I think that this is evidence of mental compartmentalisation. Many religious people don't, I suspect, go through their daily lives actually believing that they are constantly being watched over, protected and judged by the personified, interventionalist god of scripture. Religion and culture are so closely linked that often the former may as well be synonymous with the latter, and a great number of intelligent "religious" people may actually just be cultural adherents of the faith.

Now this gets a good deal more reasonable, but I think it still swings wide off the mark. Yes, I do think compartmentalization is very reasonable (in fact, I think nearly all psychological behavior is compartmentalized. Take a look at a lot of the people who strike you as crazy. Odds are good they filter their whole world view through a single paradigm.)

However, this would necessitate that religion has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the intellect. Religions are distinct paradigms through which we interpret our world view. Too many atheists (often I find, atheists who are themselves insecure about their intellects) try to portray it as somehow bad that religions offer an alternative paradigm to science. But no one lives their lives in a scientific paradigm, because without mentally leaving the science paradigm a basic, functional life is impossible. So even the most militant, obnoxious atheist is not in a scientific paradigm all the time (in fact, I find these people often step out of the science paradigm most frequently.) The only difference between these people and members of a religion is that the atheists often lack names for the paradigms they use as alternatives to religion.

You're getting at a person's willingness to exercise intellectual thought on a subject. This willingness to exercise thought can be employed in any paradigm, religious or otherwise. And there is a long history of religious scholars doing exactly that. What you are seeing with those dubiously-unsupported anecdotes above is certain people refusing to exercise their intellectual abilities for political gains. This is no different from when people scorned presidential candidate Kerry for being "an intellectual". This has nothing to do with religion, but rather is a political position that says "people who went to university and speak eloquently are not like me, therefore they cannot represent my interests." When a tiny minority of Christians in the US try to oppose evolution, they aren't doing it because their religion commands them to (the Bible says nothing about the literal accuracy of the book of Genesis.) They are doing it because people of a similar demographic have aligned themselves around a belief in literal creationism and pushing that belief is a way of strengthening their political group.

Just like how pushing the completely unsupportable belief that religion is anti-intellectual is a way of strengthening your political group.

Yes and no.

On the one hand, yes, religion does involve adhering to a strong set of beleifs that fall flat on not only direct scientific evidence, but even more indirect skepticism. People can be smart enough to realize a miricle product on an infomercial is a bunch of lies, but can beleive centuries old histories made by people with questionable understanding of much of reality, and translated and retanslated by people with vairous political motivations beyond the "word of god". The idea that the burning bush may have just been a hunger induced dream, or that the real story may be lost in legend (we have people that can't get recent history like 9/11 right) does reeks of general ignorance to start with, and seems stupider in the rejection of other religions and scientifics evidence.

That said, one of my issues with die hard aethists is a total unwillingness to accept the possibility of the fantastic. That science as we know it may not have all the answers and that the laws of physics as we know them could be broken by someone with more knowledge or power than us. Science becomes the new bible and if science can't explain it, it can't exist. It can even go too far. Evolution doesn't disprove the existance of God, just parts of the Christian bible like Adam and Eve, and it isn't all or nothing. There is a true level of intelegence in someone that admits we don't know as much as we think we do, and that as many holes as science has punched in the bible at leaset as a historical record, it has not proven an all powerful God does not exist and never could.

Katatori-kun:
Obviously not. The notion is absurd. There have been many times in history where religious people have been the source of learning and intellectual development. The Dark Ages might never have ended if it weren't for Christian monks preserving texts in their monestaries or for Muslims in the Golden Age of Islam giving us such concepts as accurate astronomy, algebra, advanced (for their time) medical knowledge and of course Arabic numerals.

...which all came out of a dedication to science and research, not religion. What you're doing is akin to saying that since Brian May has a degree in astrophysics that automatically means that it was astrophysics that made Queen's music possible. It's absolute nonsense.

If religious people are on average the only ones sufficiently well off to get an education then naturally they will be the primary source of scientific discoveries. That does not in any way invalidate the idea of religion being anti-intellectual.

Fact of the matter is, religion demands the belief in things for which there is no verifiable evidence whatsoever. That is a textbook case of anti-intellectualism. Going "Well, it's proof to me, but it might not be to you" is irrational, and only serves to illustrate to what great degree religion is actually opposed to rational inquiry.

Elcarsh:

Katatori-kun:
Obviously not. The notion is absurd. There have been many times in history where religious people have been the source of learning and intellectual development. The Dark Ages might never have ended if it weren't for Christian monks preserving texts in their monestaries or for Muslims in the Golden Age of Islam giving us such concepts as accurate astronomy, algebra, advanced (for their time) medical knowledge and of course Arabic numerals.

...which all came out of a dedication to science and research, not religion. What you're doing is akin to saying that since Brian May has a degree in astrophysics that automatically means that it was astrophysics that made Queen's music possible. It's absolute nonsense.

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying religion is irrelevant to intellectual ability. Religion didn't cause mideaval Christian monks to presever the knowledge of the ancients, nor did it cause the Muslims to lead the western world into a new era of scientific enlightenment. My point is, religion didn't inhibit it.

If religious people are on average the only ones sufficiently well off to get an education then naturally they will be the primary source of scientific discoveries. That does not in any way invalidate the idea of religion being anti-intellectual.

Yes, it does. Scientific discovries don't come from wallets. You cannot have a scientific discovery without intellect.

Fact of the matter is, religion demands the belief in things for which there is no verifiable evidence whatsoever.

Stop right there. This is false, and I know you know it's false because we've gone over it a million times in this forum. "Religion" does not require a belief in anything. In fact, only certain interpretations of certain religions are concerned with faith at all. I really have to marvel at the irony here- atheists attacking religion as "anti-intellectual" while insisting on using sloppy reasoning to make their case.

The latest Atheist Experience deals with this, partly. The notion that once you have the right answer you stop looking for any other. As the religious have the "right" answer (God dunnit) they stop looking for any other answer.

It's not a hard and fast rule, there are religious people who are on the forefront of scientific advancement afterall, but it does explain why there are so few of them.

Katatori-kun:

Stop right there. This is false, and I know you know it's false because we've gone over it a million times in this forum. "Religion" does not require a belief in anything. In fact, only certain interpretations of certain religions are concerned with fith at all.

Interview the Pope, the Dalai Lama or important islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia or Iran if you have to believe something to be able to join their club. I am quite sure that the whole definition of their religion is believing certain stuff.

The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادة‎ aš-šahādah audio (help·info)) (from the verb شهد šahida, "he witnessed"), means "to know and believe without suspicion, as if witnessed"/testification; it is the name of the Islamic creed. The shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God (tawhid) and acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. The declaration reads:
لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله (lā ʾilāha ʾillallāh, Muḥammad rasūlu-llāh) (in Arabic)
There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God. (in English)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahada

The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem (त्रिरत्न (triratna)) (Pali: tiratana), are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in

Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is central to Buddhist lay and monastic ordination ceremonies, as originated by Gautama Buddha, according to the scriptures. The practice of taking refuge on behalf of young or even unborn children is mentioned[2] in the Majjhima Nikaya, recognized by most scholars as an early text.
Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is generally considered to make one officially a Buddhist. Thus, in many Theravada Buddhist communities, the following Pali chant, the Vandana Ti-sarana is often recited as the "SIEMESE TRIPLES" by both monks and lay people:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Jewels

And also...

"You're speaking from a position of Judeo-Christian bias! What about all the other religions?"

Yes, the criticisms I gave previously are mostly derived from the religions I know most about, namely the Abrahamaic faiths. I don't think this is unreasonable in the context of the Western world (and western schooling system). In the USA, for example, Abrahamaic faiths account for over 80% of the population[2]. In the UK, about 75% of people identify themselves as part of an Abrahamaic faith[3]. Additionally, in the UK increasing numbers of ethinc minority pupils are attending faith schools (typically Catholic, Church of England, Islamic or Hindu).

Several thousand years of evidence says no. Ignorance is anti-intellectual but religion is not (which by extension means religion is not ignorance).

Batou667:
The idea that you could have a Flat-Earther teaching your child Geography is laughable. And yet, in modern, 21st Century schools, children are being taught by:

- History teachers who believe the Earth is 6000 years old
- Biology teachers who believe that a virgin gave birth and a man rose from the dead
- Humanities teachers who think that homosexuals are going to Hell
- Science teachers who deny evolution and who think that fossils were placed on Earth to test our faith
- Food science teachers who think you will be punished for eating pork or shellfish
- Electronics teachers who believe it is sinful to turn on a lightswitch on a Saturday

Can you see where I'm going with this?

It's acceptable to mock Flat-Earthers for their beliefs, and to make disparaging deductions about their intelligence or reasoning skills.

But members of mainstream religions, who believe (often literally) religious texts that contradict modern science, law and ethics are for some reason exempt from this scrutiny. Why this inconsistency?

I have, of course, picked some rather extreme examples to make my point. But my point stands: would you be happy entrusting your child's education to somebody, whose faith requires them to hold as true and unalterable, a world-view and set of personal ethics that are incompatible with many of the foundations of education?

Assuming they don't allow it to interfere with what they're meant to be teaching, I don't see any reason their personal beliefs should have even the slightest significance.

Seekster:
Several thousand years of evidence says no. Ignorance is anti-intellectual but religion is not (which by extension means religion is not ignorance).

So those ages of scientific repression by the religious didn't happen then? What are you getting at with this post?!

I'll come out and say this: as long as the concept of religion is so intrinsically bound to ideas which cannot be verified but are to be assumed as absolutely correct, then it is anti-intellectual. The very concept of an assumption which is both entirely unfounded and entirely unnecessary is, to its very core and in its very nature, anti-intellectual, regardless of whether or not it leads to the person believing in it to abandon more rational pursuits or not.

I think it's important here to differentiate between 'religion' and religious institutions.

Religion - "a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values." This part of the first line on the wikipedia page for religion.

Religious institution - "such organizations usually have other responsibilities, such as: the formation, nomination or appointment of religious leaders, the establishment of a corpus of doctrine, the disciplining of priests or other people with respect to religious law, the determination of qualification for membership, etc." I felt that defining the roles of a religious institution would be better than defining the institution itself; religious institution is a fairly self explanitory term after all.

Religion is someone's spiritual beliefs and can range from a very hardline belief that an otherworldly force determines day to day life to completely atheistic views that claim spirituality has nothing to do with the existance of supernatural forces. Both are forms of religion. Religion is something to be cultivated personally and can come from wherever the individual wants it too. In many cases, an individual's spiritual beliefs (their religion, for those who haven't caught on yet) are based on rational observation of their physical world. The differences come from the interpretation of those observations just the same way that in science you can have different conclusions about similar data sets. But I digress. I say that to claim that religion is inherently anti-intellectual is untrue, nothing about the actual definition of religion states any connection to intellectulism.

However, I would claim that some religious institutions are inherently anti-intellectual. I agree that sects like the ultra-conservative reform churches in the US are very anti-intellectual; to them their way is the way and any outside logic is quite simply incorrect. To summarize - religion is not anti-intellectual, but some religious institutions are. Not all mind you, there are many that seek the marriage of science and religion who interpret faith as being cooperative with fact and see higher scientific knowledge as equalling higher spiritual knowledge. It's just that there's also the other guys.

Also I'd like to bring this into the discussion; why should religion be subject to immediate scrutiny simply based on its being spirituality focused. Why should observations made from a scientific point of view be automatically superior than those made in a religious context or, to broaden things out, a social context? When a group of ten people say "We've shared a vision of God, here's exactly what happened how it happened and what went on." they're almost instantly subject to accusations of insantiy or mental instability. However, when a group of ten people say "We've synthesized element 118, here's exactly what happened how it happened and what went on" it's hailed as a groundbreaking discovery? Have any of us done the same experiment? Did any of us have the same vision? Do any of us really have anything to go by other than other people's words in either case? I think this arbitrary veneration of science and intellect needs to be scaled back a little bit. I'm not saying by any means that they're bad, simply that we need to take science and intellect with a grain of salt the same way we would any economic, social, political or even religious aspect of life.

I don't think it is. I know quite a few people who are regular church goers, and they don't like some parts of the sermon because it sounds like it wouldn't work.

Certain sects might be anti-intellectual. What is that sect that takes everything literally? Evangelists? I'm thinking that some of those people could be a litle on the slow side.

Midgeamoo:

Seekster:
Several thousand years of evidence says no. Ignorance is anti-intellectual but religion is not (which by extension means religion is not ignorance).

So those ages of scientific repression by the religious didn't happen then? What are you getting at with this post?!

Over thousands of years, most scientists, philosophers, and other great minds have been people who to varying degrees are religious. So clearly you cant point at religion and say its anti-intellectual. It can be when it tries to cater to ignorance but ignorance is what is anti-intellectual, not religion itself.

MoNKeyYy:
I think it's important here to differentiate between 'religion' and religious institutions.

Religion ....

Religious institution ...

Yes. MoNKeyYy is right on here. Many of you people posting above him need to learn to differentiate between a a vague class of belief, a specific belief, person who has a specific belief, and a specific institution dedicated to supporting a specific group of people who often (though not always) share certain specific beliefs.

However, I would claim that some religious institutions are inherently anti-intellectual.

Agreed. A certain religious group might be anti-intellectual if they see this as a way of advancing their group politically. This has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with the tendency of insecure humans to form groups and other-ize anyone outside their group. Much like some atheists are doing in this thread.

Also I'd like to bring this into the discussion; why should religion be subject to immediate scrutiny simply based on its being spirituality focused. Why should observations made from a scientific point of view be automatically superior than those made in a religious context or, to broaden things out, a social context?

This gets very dicey, because different religions and science are all paradigms of thought. A paradigm is a way of structuring the information we get from the outside world so that our brains are able to work with it. But we have no way of saying that any paradigm is objectively superior to any other, because how can we objectively evaluate paradigms outside of the viewpoint of a paradigm? In other words, how can a person without a framework to structure their thoughts decide objectively that one way of structuring thought is superior to another?

However, if we run with Batou's idea of compartmentalization and treat a paradigm not as a single framework that dominates all thought (which as I claimed makes daily life almost impossible), but rather as a tool-kit that allows us different ways to structure our world as convenient, then we may not be able to say that one paradigm is better than another but we can say that one is probably more useful to certain tasks that mesh well with it's founding assumptions than others. To put it simply, science, religion, and all other paradigms are tools. Just as we would never be so ass-headed as to say that hammers are better than saws, it's foolish to say that either religion or science are superior to the other. However, you won't get far using a hammer to make a precise cut in a board, now with using a saw to drive in a nail. Likewise, religion is not going to get you far in determining the cause of a newly discovered illness or form public policy in a community of people from diverse backgrounds. (I'm neglecting to specify which situations religion might be a superior tool because religion isn't in and of itself a paradigm, but rather it is a collection of distinct paradigms that share certain characteristics but which function in very different ways. Religion does not have a single purpose.)

When a group of ten people say "We've shared a vision of God, here's exactly what happened how it happened and what went on." they're almost instantly subject to accusations of insantiy or mental instability. However, when a group of ten people say "We've synthesized element 118, here's exactly what happened how it happened and what went on" it's hailed as a groundbreaking discovery? Have any of us done the same experiment? Did any of us have the same vision? Do any of us really have anything to go by other than other people's words in either case? I think this arbitrary veneration of science and intellect needs to be scaled back a little bit. I'm not saying by any means that they're bad, simply that we need to take science and intellect with a grain of salt the same way we would any economic, social, political or even religious aspect of life.

I'm not in agreement with this. For science to be the tool it is supposed to be, replication of experiments is essential. The problem is trying to use the paradigm of science to judge the value of other paradigms- by making the judgement from an existing paradigm, there is unavoidable bias. The way most religions work (symbolism, metaphor, emotion, empathy, etc) it doesn't matter if the people actually saw God or not. Just like any other issue where religion tries to infringe upon scientific territory. It doesn't matter if Noah actually built a boat. It doesn't matter if Jesus actually came back from the dead. It doesn't matter if Set actually chopped Osiris into little bits. Literal, scientific truth isn't what the religion paradigm is useful for.

I dont know. Define "religion" and "religious". They are very broad terms. Sure, there are Christians out there who believe the earth is flat, and there are Muslims out there who believe when they die they will be awarded with 40 virgins, and they are fucking deluded to phrase it politely. But there are also atheists out there who believe that a lizard alien race is living among us in disguise. (Oh, and dont forget, if you do not believe this, YOU are an alien lizard yourself!)

I know its not a good awnser, but there are so many religions out there with so many different believes and so many religious people who believe in different things, you simply cant make one statement and say all religion is anti-itellectual or intellectual.

Religion, in history, has done not only its fair share of holding up progress, its also sped it up. Numerous examples of this have been named already.

So yeah, I need specifics before I can say anything about this.

Seekster:

Midgeamoo:

Seekster:
Several thousand years of evidence says no. Ignorance is anti-intellectual but religion is not (which by extension means religion is not ignorance).

So those ages of scientific repression by the religious didn't happen then? What are you getting at with this post?!

Over thousands of years, most scientists, philosophers, and other great minds have been people who to varying degrees are religious. So clearly you cant point at religion and say its anti-intellectual. It can be when it tries to cater to ignorance but ignorance is what is anti-intellectual, not religion itself.

So because great minds have been religious, then religion is considered intellectual.
But when great minds have been repressed by religion, religion is not considered anti-intellectual.

Do you not see the double standard there?
Also these great minds were great minds who were living in times when religion was a universal thing, and people didn't even question religion, it doesn't mean their religion helped them.

In a 2007 study 52 percent of scientists said they had no religious affiliation, compared with only 14 percent of the general population. 14 percent of the general population described themselves as "evangelical" or "fundamentalist." Less than 2 percent of scientists identified themselves as either. Whats more the study also found that whether you were religious or not largely depended on whether you were born into a religious family. Scientists tended to be not religious before entering science, rather than losing their religion after entering the realm of science.

In a 1998 study that focused on specific areas, only 7.5% of Physicists were believers and only 5.5% of Biologists.

The scientific community is disproportionately made up of the non-religious, I think that speaks for itself.

Midgeamoo:

Seekster:

Midgeamoo:

So those ages of scientific repression by the religious didn't happen then? What are you getting at with this post?!

Over thousands of years, most scientists, philosophers, and other great minds have been people who to varying degrees are religious. So clearly you cant point at religion and say its anti-intellectual. It can be when it tries to cater to ignorance but ignorance is what is anti-intellectual, not religion itself.

So because great minds have been religious, then religion is considered intellectual.
But when great minds have been repressed by religion, religion is not considered anti-intellectual.

Do you not see the double standard there?
Also these great minds were great minds who were living in times when religion was a universal thing, and people didn't even question religion, it doesn't mean their religion helped them.

No, because most intellectuals throughout history have been religious to varying degrees we can logically conclude that religion cannot be inherently anti-intellectual.

It doesnt mean their religion hurt them either. My view is that religion is neither pro or anti-intellectual, its just religion. There is no real correlation to be found here (as much as I know some people on this forum would love to find one).

As far as I'm aware, most religions on their own really have no decreed way of approaching science or logical reasoning. I've never heard of any prophets or holy texts saying anything to the effect of "Now, whatever you do, don't THINK about anything too hard. We wouldn't want you using that big ol' brain our god/gods gave you." All of that stuff comes out of different denominations and institutions.

Batou667:

"You're speaking from a position of Judeo-Christian bias! What about all the other religions?"

Yes, the criticisms I gave previously are mostly derived from the religions I know most about, namely the Abrahamaic faiths.

Actually you aren't even describing the Abrahamic faiths. You are discussing some forms of Christianity.

So how can we reconcile the belief in supernatural deities

Easy, as has been discussed in many threads.

What do other Escapists think?

That your beliefs are big on sterotyping and short on reality.

Lilani:
As far as I'm aware, most religions on their own really have no decreed way of approaching science or logical reasoning. I've never heard of any prophets or holy texts saying anything to the effect of "Now, whatever you do, don't THINK about anything too hard. We wouldn't want you using that big ol' brain our god/gods gave you." All of that stuff comes out of different denominations and institutions.

Exactly. Most religions WANT you to think.

The only ones that have official rules on it that I know of say basically that you are required to use logical reasoning and respect science. The Baha'i is the clearest on this, a core belief given to them by one of the founders of the religion is if science and religion ever disagree, science win and the religion must have got it wrong - even if it was the words of their greatest prophet.

Danyal, my good man, we really do need to have a talk about how your throught process, and how it leads you to these questions.

Let's follow your logic, shall we:
"Here are some real people who believe something that we know to be wrong."

"Here are some examples of imaginary hard-line religious people in jobs that run counter to the radical, hard-line versions of their beliefs. These people may, or may not, exist."

"These religious people now represent all religious people on the planet, and their hard-line views now represent the construct of religion itself."

"People who believe something we know to be wrong and the imaginary examples of religious people are now the same people. All religious people are, by extrapolation, believing in something we know to be wrong, and have hard-line views that run opposed to our knowledge."

"Is religion anti-intellectual?"

Based on the "presentation" available in this thread, clearly not.
If the Religious people are practicing teachers, they've been educated within the bounds stipulated within the law. If they're holding jobs at public schools, they teach the circulum as detailed by the appropriate Government agencies. If they're holding jobs at private schools, they teach what the school pays them to teach.
If they've been educated, they qualify for the title of "intellectual" based on your complete lack of definition for the term.

Asking, in a veiled manner, "Does religion hinder the advancement of our species' collective scientific knowledge?" advertises your particular bias, as you've failed to establish a meaningful context for your question, and have used "arguments by entomology" - assumed definitions of your selected words - more so than "arguments by evidence" or "arguments by facts".

Are you familiar with the works of Mr. Charles Darwin? In particular, "On the origins of the species"?
You might want to take a look-see at whose work Mr. Darwin used for a good slice of his inspiration and proof. Pay particular attention to the geneology sections relating to flowers and animals.
Then again, you might also want to read about the Islamic educators of the 13th-15th Century, and their advancements and recording keeping expertise. They're indirectly responsible for a sizeable chunk of our current world.

Nice try, though.

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