Do religion and faith create anti-intellectuallism?

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Everglow
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I have been reading about anti-intellectualism as of late and I am wondering whether religious institutions, holy scriptures and faith create it.

Christians and Muslims, for example, often defend their holy books as inherent, unquestionable and timeless truths that cannot be disputed because they are 'the word of God'. Empiricism becomes irrelevant because, in the eyes of a devout religious believer, it's subordinate to God. Everything is subordinate to God, and as inferior humans we should just accept that and give thanks to God.

The Enlightenment of the 18th Century obviously went a long way to countering anti-intellectualism, but it doesn't change the issue that religious scripture and those who follow it may be avid promoters of anti-intellectualism by using their faith in a god and scripture to answer all problems.

(Original post by Romans 8:28)
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I picked this quote from the Bible because it demonstrates the common belief that God 'causes all things to work... according to His purpose'. This kind of claim, which is supported by nothing empirical, is a key example in how religion, namely Christianity, promotes the idea that only the word of God is valid. Anything that humans discover is irrelevant because God is the creator and designer of all, and everything was within His plan. But this kind of claim is surely inherently unsubstantiated, whereas the empiricism of science is substantiated.

So, I pose the question: are religion and faith both prominent in creating anti-intellectualism? If holy scripture is timeless, as it is usually claimed to be, then religion must be judged throughout time rather than just how we view it in the present.
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mattwilkins
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I don't think you can lump everything under the umbrella term religion together. It would be kind of like asking whether all governments promote a particular policy. Some surely will, whilst others wont.

That being said I will delve a little deeper into Christianity in particular as the religion of which I have the most knowledge (Disclaimer: I'm not religious at all nor do I claim to be an expert in any other person's beliefs).

I think many Christians are very intellectual people, many are not. I would say there are some forms of Christianity that implicitly promote anti-intellectualism in the ways that you mention, although I would say that most don't tend to take the Bible in a very literal sense, and therefore don't promote anti-intellectualism at all.

I would also like to point out that the Bible is full of contradictions, which makes it a very difficult topic to have a logical argument about (a fact that I lament greatly as an engineer! ).
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Everglow
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(Original post by mattwilkins)
I don't think you can lump everything under the umbrella term religion together. It would be kind of like asking whether all governments promote a particular policy. Some surely will, whilst others wont.

That being said I will delve a little deeper into Christianity in particular as the religion of which I have the most knowledge (Disclaimer: I'm not religious at all nor do I claim to be an expert in any other person's beliefs).

I think many Christians are very intellectual people, many are not. I would say there are some forms of Christianity that implicitly promote anti-intellectualism in the ways that you mention, although I would say that most don't tend to take the Bible in a very literal sense, and therefore don't promote anti-intellectualism at all.

I would also like to point out that the Bible is full of contradictions, which makes it a very difficult topic to have a logical argument about (a fact that I lament greatly as an engineer! ).
Of course. I used the term religion because it makes our discussion as broad as possible. I didn't want to demonise certain religions - and the fact is that the majority of religions center around a higher being.

I think you have to be careful with confusing intellect and anti-intellectualism. I am not disputing that there are intellectual Christians out there, but I am considering whether religious scriptures and practices are turning people away from science and empiricism towards unsubstantiated beliefs that lead them to dismiss anything that questions the existence or works of their God. Science almost becomes an evil that seeks only to turn people away from faith.

A belief in a God at all could be considered anti-intellectual. It is unprovable and relies entirely on faith. Martin Luther once said 'reason is the greatest enemy that faith has.' The same is also true in reverse. It could be said that if you have faith in a God, you are standing in opposition to reason and empiricism - and are therefore anti-intellectual.
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mattwilkins
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(Original post by Reluire)
Of course. I used the term religion because it makes our discussion as broad as possible. I didn't want to demonise certain religions - and the fact is that the majority of religions center around a higher being.

I think you have to be careful with confusing intellect and anti-intellectualism. I am not disputing that there are intellectual Christians out there, but I am considering whether religious scriptures and practices are turning people away from science and empiricism towards unsubstantiated beliefs that lead them to dismiss anything that questions the existence or works of their God. Science almost becomes an evil that seeks only to turn people away from faith.

A belief in a God at all could be considered anti-intellectual. It is unprovable and relies entirely on faith. Martin Luther once said 'reason is the greatest enemy that faith has.' The same is also true in reverse. It could be said that if you have faith in a God, you are standing in opposition to reason and empiricism - and are therefore anti-intellectual.
Perhaps I worded my response wrong, but I don't believe that religion inherently turns people away from science. Indeed many top scientists are very religious.

I wouldn't say a belief in god is anti-intellectual. Illogical? Maybe, but by the same hand that there is no evidence for a higher being, there is none against either. At a basic level faith is completely disconnected from logic etc.

I do agree however that some organised religions certainly make it hard to take logical and scientific arguments. I think as a whole religion is moving towards a less literal form, especially concerning worldly things, and is becoming more of a personal faith.
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sevchenko
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Complete nonsense. The medieval Islamic world was the center of learning and innovation particularly in the fields of Mathematics, Astronomy and Medicine.

In the Medieval western world. Monks and clergy were the most educated and the only actual intellectuals in society. They were the only people who could speak Latin and educated the ruling elite.

It was the monk's who recorded and documented history. They actively practised a many range sciences in order to "better understand God"

You'll quickly find the best Universities in Europe and the US foundations and creation stem from Christian learning.

Why limit the word religion to conventional religions such as Islam and Christianity. The work of Plato and Archimedes flourished despite the universal belief in Greek Mythology.

Religion does not promote anti-intellectuallism. It encourages it if anything
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james22
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In modern times it most certainly does. You cannot make progress if there are still things which you hold to be true with no evidence.
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Chicken.M.
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nah not really. Up until recently all of the intellectuals forwarding science have been monks or muslims. Just authority figures ended up messing it up by outlawing stuff for conflicting with the religion.
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viddy9
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Some forms of religion - particularly fundamentalist ones - do create anti-intellectualism when knowledge, evidence and science are frowned upon and when the only thing which people think matters is faith in a deity.

Most forms of religion, however, may not explicitly create anti-intellectualism but they do impede critical thinking: any scientific discovery that is made is, according to "moderates", part of God's divine plan - they don't stop and think and ponder whether God is even needed in the cosmic picture. So, essentially, the vast majority of religions teach their adherents to start with a conclusion, namely that an omniperfect entity exists, and build around that conclusion, keeping the conclusion itself immune to criticism.

In history, it is true that religious officials were often the ones carrying out science, but that's simply because: a) the vast majority of people were religious or had to act like they were, b) religious officials had the time and the means to carry out experiments.

Now, in the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S., for instance, 92% of the scientists don't believe in God. There are some scientists, such as Francis Collins and John Lennox, who are religious, but if you look at the reasoning behind their belief in God from their books, it's clear that they disregard their intelligence and settle for logical fallacies or, in some cases, pseudoscience to defend their belief in God.
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saalih
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true Islam brings the age of enlightenment

http://www.muslimheritage.com/

http://www.1001inventions.com/
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saalih
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(Original post by viddy9)
Now, in the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S., for instance, 92% of the scientists don't believe in God. There are some scientists, such as Francis Collins and John Lennox, who are religious, but if you look at the reasoning behind their belief in God from their books, it's clear that they disregard their intelligence and settle for logical fallacies or, in some cases, pseudoscience to defend their belief in God.
some of the best scientists were believers in God and it never contradicted with their work or intellect
http://www.1001inventions.com/
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james22
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(Original post by saalih)
true Islam brings the age of enlightenment

http://www.muslimheritage.com/

http://www.1001inventions.com/
Except when it comes to evolution (which most muslims don't believe in).
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SandmanMMA
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(Original post by viddy9)
Now, in the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S., for instance, 92% of the scientists don't believe in God. There are some scientists, such as Francis Collins and John Lennox, who are religious, but if you look at the reasoning behind their belief in God from their books, it's clear that they disregard their intelligence and settle for logical fallacies or, in some cases, pseudoscience to defend their belief in God.
http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/s...ts-and-belief/ Turns out 51% of scientists believe in a deity or higher being. Unless you have data to back up your claim instead of making up numbers, please do not make that claim. I can understand why they believe in a higher being. You cannot disprove a god/gods, like you cannot prove it. You can however disprove religious books.
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viddy9
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(Original post by saalih)
some of the best scientists were believers in God and it never contradicted with their work or intellect
http://www.1001inventions.com/
As I've already said, virtually everyone before the 19th Century believed in God, scientists or not. Furthermore, I never said that religious belief hindered their work in science, but I did say that they don't apply the same intellectual standards to their faith as they do to every other claim.

(Original post by SandmanMMA)
http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/s...ts-and-belief/ Turns out 51% of scientists believe in a deity or higher being. Unless you have data to back up your claim instead of making up numbers, please do not make that claim. I can understand why they believe in a higher being. You cannot disprove a god/gods, like you cannot prove it. You can however disprove religious books.
I didn't make up numbers: 93% of members of the National Academy of Sciences are either agnostic or atheist, with 72.2% being atheist.

Of course you can't disprove the notion of a deity, although the Problem of Evil comes close to disproving an omnipotent, omnibenevolent personal deity. According to Professor Karl Popper's falsification principle, we should therefore be extremely sceptical of the idea of a deity, even more so than we are duty-bound to be by default.

And, belief in a 'higher being' or 'higher power' is more understandable than belief in a God. A higher power could be anything - super-intelligent aliens, for example.
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SandmanMMA
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(Original post by viddy9)
I didn't make up numbers: 93% of members of the National Academy of Sciences are either agnostic or atheist, with 72.2% being atheist.

Of course you can't disprove the notion of a deity, although the Problem of Evil comes close to disproving an omnipotent, omnibenevolent personal deity. According to Professor Karl Popper's falsification principle, we should therefore be extremely sceptical of the idea of a deity, even more so than we are duty-bound to be by default.

And, belief in a 'higher being' or 'higher power' is more understandable than belief in a God. A higher power could be anything - super-intelligent aliens, for example.
The website you put out and it's data are both out dated and questionable, but ok at least you had a source. Mine was dated 2009. Higher being makes sense, but aliens? not really if in the context of universe creation. That doesn't explain thing such as holographic universe theory and the fact when you don't observe something it becomes a wave (the electron thing is real interesting in that part of the theory). Top physicists have actually agreed with this theory and have their proof. But maybe Aliens did come and play with our genes though, that makes a lot of sense and explains this: http://newsrescue.com/ancient-200000...#axzz3CekavR87 But I can't find a credible enough source for this gold mine though that's my problem.
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Malorys ballsack
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(Original post by james22)
Except when it comes to evolution (which most muslims don't believe in).
Iirc a Muslim pioneered the idea of evolution, it might just be propaganda though. To he honest during the Islamic Empires Muslims weren't nearly as conservative or thick as todays, there are some who think the original Islam was actually similar to liberalism (for example there are numerous accounts of women scholars).
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james22
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(Original post by Malorys ballsack)
Iirc a Muslim pioneered the idea of evolution, it might just be propaganda though. To he honest during the Islamic Empires Muslims weren't nearly as conservative or thick as todays, there are some who think the original Islam was actually similar to liberalism (for example there are numerous accounts of women scholars).
On this forum I have seen very few muslims you accept that humans evolved from apes. Polls suggest that a tiny number believe in any sort of evolution.
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viddy9
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(Original post by SandmanMMA)
The website you put out and it's data are both out dated and questionable, but ok at least you had a source. Mine was dated 2009. Higher being makes sense, but aliens? not really if in the context of universe creation. That doesn't explain thing such as holographic universe theory and the fact when you don't observe something it becomes a wave (the electron thing is real interesting in that part of the theory). Top physicists have actually agreed with this theory and have their proof. But maybe Aliens did come and play with our genes though, that makes a lot of sense and explains this: http://newsrescue.com/ancient-200000...#axzz3CekavR87 But I can't find a credible enough source for this gold mine though that's my problem.
The context of the poll wasn't universe creation, though, it was simply about personal belief.
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SandmanMMA
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(Original post by viddy9)
The context of the poll wasn't universe creation, though, it was simply about personal belief.
I never said it was.
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It's a Classic
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It would be an incredibly ignorant statement if we were to generalise and assume that every person who holds a religious belief is an anti-intellectual. For instance, my parents are doctors; both renowned and well known in the hospitals they have worked at, they also believe in God. While they brought me up, they taught me the value of education and how essential it is to keep both my mind and body healthy; instilling in me the idea that there is always room for improvement. Not once have they allowed religion to merely explain or elaborate on questions I had of the world. They believe in evolution as well as the big bang theory; and we've always had debates and discussions about it. I'm an atheist myself but I find thinking theists to be anti-intellectuals rather insulting.
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Riku
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It's a double edged sword. Organised religion has restricted intellectualism; at the same time the concept of faith, and to some degree organised religion, promotes sublimation and self-control, which inspires intellectualism, and the ability to transcend our primitive instincts.
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