are christians ‘normal people of normal intelligence’?

You mean to tell me that you consider fundamentalist Christians who distribute those unintentionally amusing religious tracts to be normal people of normal intelligence? I don’t believe it. (Jim)

It’s easy to paint groups of people we disagree with as idiots for whom access to logic and reasoning is limited. I should know: I do it all the time.

But the truth is that every outlook on life is littered with people across every skill and intelligence spectrum. We can’t account for why people live their lives based on facts that seem obvious nonsense to us.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

  • I’m stunned that lots of Christians out there think our planet is 6000 years old, and that fossils and dinosaur bones fit neatly into that understanding. What does this blatant disregard for basic science say about human intelligence?

There is nothing in the Bible that indicates in any way that the world is much older than 6,000 years old. The Bible does tell us, however, that the fossils we find could not have been buried before God created Adam. The animals whose bones became fossilized had to have died after God created Adam. That means those fossils must be less than 6,000 years old. (missiontoamerica.org)

  • I’m horrified that most human beings think it makes sense to eat the flesh of of other sentient animals, showing little or no concern for how the animals live and die. And the numbers of regular meats eaters and the quantity we eat are only rising. What does this blatant disregard for suffering, environmental damage and negative health effects say about human intelligence?

The global demand for meat is growing, particularly in China and India, which could see an 80% boom in the meat sector by 2022 due to a new (and growing) middle class. Africans are also starting to eat more meat (businessinsider.com)

Unfortunately for us, humans don’t really rely on facts when formulating opinions on where life comes from or where it’s going. We seem to know a lot, but in reality we’re just scratching the surface of what existence is.

There are two important ways we further limit our teeny piece of understanding:

  1. We simply disregard facts that aren’t convenient for us. We may write them off as unimportant, not worthy of further consideration, or randomly not relevant to us as individuals. We may frame them with reference to invisible supernatural forces, the existence of which can neither be proven nor disproven.
  2. We indulge in the company of others who feed our confirmation bias – assuring us that it’s perfectly reasonable to believe the world is 6000 years old or that eating animals is tradition that need never change.

The evidence is often staring us in the face. But I know people of all levels of intelligence who believe in gods, who accept the world is 6000 years old, and who chomp into anonymous pieces of animal flesh with delight.

I like to think of myself as a normal person of normal intelligence. But, at the end of the day, I can rest assured that in my own life I most probably behave in the most absurdly ignorantly way possible in terms of my beliefs and behaviour (although I expect you’d struggle to pinpoint anything …), so I’ll try not to point the finger at any of you.

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