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Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

Religion and Intelligence

"Religion and Intelligence" by Vexen Crabtree (2007)

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Religion and intelligence

There may be a correlation between low IQ and being religious, but what if there is a gene for religion? Every gene in our bodies has been selected for, so religion may have a survival purpose and that may be why it has persisted in the population. Religion may just be a side effect of consciousness. People can misinterpret the world around them, but when it comes to the crunch, the only thing you can trust is your own thoughts and feelings. As a scientist, I only go on evidence, but what if that evidence comes from your own personal experiences? If you restrict your mind to purely scientific thought, you cannot truly explore the possibilities the Universe has to offer.

Re: Religion and intelligence

That a gene is selected for doesn't make the underlying point of the gene correspond to any kind of reality; for example, the Peacock's ridiculous tail, and female breast size, both have genes that are selected for (just like proposed genes for religious behaviour), but this doesn't say anything about the truth of religious ideas, and about religious behaviour (that it has at times in history, led to increased rates of survival for children). And as you imply yourself, religion can easily be a by-product of other normal behaviours. It can itself be an abnormal. For a much fuller discussion of the psychological causes of religous beliefs and behaviour, see:

"The Causes of Religion: Psychological and physiological causes of religious belief and behaviour" by Vexen Crabtree (2007).

Finally, on your point about the scope of religion, please note that scientists can understand many phenomenon without immersing themselves in it. Weathermen can understand the weather and report about its causes and effects, without actually sitting in the rain or shouting into a microphone in a hurricane. We can study the internal metabolism of the stars, without actually being there, and the most important comparison is this famous one: It is perhaps better if you study drunken behaviour without actually being drunk yourself, and such is the truth of the scientific study of religion.

Religion and Intelligence

Hello Vexen, thank you for replying to my comment on Religion and Intelligence.

I think probably a high proportion of people who are born into a particular religion accept it as part of their social conditioning and may not have the opportunity to choose what they believe. There is always variation in any population for any type of behaviour, intelligence seems to be in part genetic and can occur at random and so perhaps religious behaviour can too.

Free-thinking people such as ourselves either are religious or they are not, suggesting a predisposition.

People seem to go through religious phases in their lives depending on their circumstances which suggests that it is the result of cognitive processes. In my experience I have found that religious people tend to be happier and more content about life because they ask less questions. Perhaps there is a correlation between having an enquiring mind and not being religious and having a closed mind and being religious.

Although much can be learned from observation, there is no substitute for experience. As an obsever of human behaviour you have to draw conclusions based on the experiences of others. If you purely observe, you can describe something as you see it but not as it feels to be part of it. An important part of science is to be experimental and see what happens.

Differing Points of View

Biased view points have always been a hinderance in society. I, a professing Christian, am greatly disturbed by this site. I know and correspond with numerous intelligent people, scientists and others, who are devout followers of the Christian faith. Their I.Q. is nothing below average. I myself love science, and yet, I remain a Christian. I know the contradictions, I've read them and debated them. Science is based on observation. No theory is ever proven true, a scientist can only fail to reject it. You do not believe in God, I do. I respect your choice to not believe in God. Just remember, your theories aren't the only one out there.

Re: Differing Points of View

Your reasoning can be considered flawed since you are basing it on the people you know and hang out with. You might choose to hang out with intelligent religious people, which do exist. The study didn't say no religious people were intelligent, only that the -average- was lower.
The study above used information from several dozen scientific studies, and represents a far large population sample, one that you cannot claim to be more accurate than. Perhaps you might counter with data on an actual scientific experiment or survey done, if you know of one that shows your view.

Re: Differing Points of View

I was delighted to see someone actually commenting from a faith point of veiw! The title of the strand says it all - differing points of view. This site and all those created by Vexen are his veiws only - I wonder why he believes in satan and not god? Is his intelligence any higher or any lower as regardless of what he says, surely he is a monothiest, being a satanist?

Re: Differing Points of View

I go to great lengths to provide a forum for every page so that others can input their views. And, my pages are largely backed up by evidence - footnoted - so that you can often check where the information and data comes from. I am largely, merely, a presenter of evidence.

I am an atheist - there are no Gods, no Devil's etc. An evil Satan is a better symbol of reality, than is a good God.

To me it is simply a matter of two things:

1) People who are religious are taught not to decide or question for themselves since God has decided everything for them, thus they make less use of vital sections of their brain which then loose function.
2) A more intelligent person tends to nit-pick and pull out flaws inherent in a religion. They tend to notice the contradictions, fallacies, and atrocities inherent in many religions more than a less observant person.

Of course those theories are hard to test, so I could be wrong :)

1. Yes - the "God done it" response certainly culls skeptical and open investigation.

2. Definately, that's why science is so strictly evidence-based. Theories should explain and predict facts, not explain-them-away.

(Deleted comment)

Re: I am confused

1. Well at least you're brave enough to tell your mum, I guess it is hard being atheist in Mauritius.

2. The laws of the universe, physics and biology, are what created you. The mixing of DNA from your parents created the information needed to make your body and mind.

3. If your mum wants to know "who created the laws of the universe" then, the answer is the same as the answer to "who created god?". If everything needs a creator, then, how can God exist?



I'm not sure if I agree with everything you say here, but I found your investigation into divorce rates interesting. I am a born again Christian, and one thing I have noticed over the past year is just how many Christian couples are getting married at a really young age! Too young in my opinion i.e. around the 20 mark. One couple has only been together half a year or so and are already engaged. Perhaps they are so caught up in the whole idea of Christian marriage and the joy it will bring, perhaps it has something to do with sex?
The other part I was reading was on intelligence and religion. Now just because more intelligent people are less likely to be religious doesn't make religion 'wrong'. It could mean that their own pride in their intellect restricts them from opening up to anything spiritual and new. Jesus did say we have to be like children i.e. stop being so proud and arrogant, if we are to really accept him. Also, religion is not God and the relationship many of us share with him. It is the organistation of many individuals who are not really Christians and it may place rules and regulations on you like the Catholic church, which I think is the one thing that has stopped most people coming to God.

Anyway good job with the website mate.


Thanks for the comments.

1. Divorce rates: I know a Christian priest who says the same thing; Christians feel more pressurized to get marry so they often do so too early, and too young. This contributes to the high divorce rate.

2. It is true that the fact that certain people believe/don't believe, in something, isn't evidence for or against it. But it's not true about closed minds; many scientists make names for themselves arguing against established facts because they have seen new evidence. Where there is evidence, scientists will fight to discover new things. The thing with God though, is that there is no evidence.

3. It can't be that "pride in their intellect" prevents them opening up to new things because many scientists come from theist families, so, becoming an atheist *is* new, and not restrictive.

4. It is true that the truth/reputation of individual religions is a different matter to the question of whether god exists or not.

5. The rules and regulations of specific churches are irrelevent - only the truth is important.

Your many articles

Although I agree with much of what your saying, there appears to be an attitude problem in some segments of your presentations. Some segments are confrontational rather than informative. A greater amount of respectability for the essential thought contents of your writings may be achieved by avoiding this confrontational and sometimes denigrating stance. Nonetheless, I think you're brilliant.

May I share some of my own thoughts?

Religion appears to be a necessity for most people. I believe this is so because of two things:
(1) Man dreads the termination of existence and desires eternal life. Almost all religions promise life after death. Others dismiss death altogether, like the Buddhist concept of perpetual re-birth.
(2) Retribution. With man's innate desire for justice, no one should get away with evil deeds. Since many do get away with evil in their lifetime, there must be punishment in the afterlife.
The "gods" of these religions, one way or another, satisfy these two needs.

Most faiths have humanized their god. Christianity claims god made us in his image. It may be the other way around - christianity has created a god in man's image and even man's character is mirrored in its god.

Should we not create a sort of "credo" stating what we logically believe in rather than dismantling the beliefs of others?

My sincerest regards. I hope to interact with you.


Do you think there is any correlation between intelligence implications and the strict gender roles imposed by Christianity? Someone on here mentioned young marriages in Christian couples-- something i've witnessed firsthand-- and in all the cases I've seen, the females in the equation are either uneducated (high school at most), undereducated (college dropouts), or un-enthused by academic conquests and regard college as a timekill until they are 20. In so many words, their explanation to me is that their "calling" is to get married, start families, and be provided for and that they do not need college. If they do care to be employed, they seem to gravitate toward female-dominated professions which are usually dropped with the first child. This to me is a societal TRAGEDY. I think these girls are just as capable of being educated as any non-fundamentalist, yet reject education because from day one they are bombarded with propaganda about "callings" and "wifely duties." All these are gender-specific with higher academic standards being imposed on males all within the social paradigm of archaic family standards. It makes me sick to my stomach but I think it would be a valid point for research.

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