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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.

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