Commenter JA (Jewish Atheist is his pseudonym … at my home/personal blog) continues to hold the notion that “low atheists” don’t exist in his continued (no true Scottsman) argument as a basis for the higher intelligence/education feature of the set of atheists compared to those who do believe in God. There is a problem with this position which might be best expressed by considering a particular individual from another planet entirely.

Consider an alien coming from a place/planet which has never considered the notion of divinity, spirit, gods or God. This notion, for our alien, is an (pardon) alien concept with which he struggles and only incompletely understands having now encountered earthlings. During his life prior to that meeting he had never ever spent an iota of mental activity thinking about or considing God (or the gods). He is, more than our earthly atheists, I contend a complete atheist. In the spectrum of belief between the Saint and the modern atheist he is even further away from the Saint than the 20th century self-professed atheist.

By contrast to the high atheist, who has a panoply of reasons why he has decided God doesn’t exist the low atheist is more akin to our alien. Just like our alien the low atheists actions, values and decisions are made in a universe in which God (or gods) do not consider. He spends just as little time thinking about the divine (much less praying) as our alien does. He is an atheist of the same mold as our alien.

By first approximation, one might view religious belief in a population as existing on some sort of bell curve. A population with low religious beliefs and attendance shifts the bell curve toward “nonbelief” and a population that is highly religious shifts it the other way. Atheists practically exist at a point on the non-belief side of the curve and a less religious population will (to first order) just be expected to have more atheists than one that is highly religious. Demographic studies that our JA note point out that many highly educated populations are often (in our culture) ones with low religous beliefs and therefore also have a higher percentage of atheists. However what he hasn’t noted is that populations which are very poorly educated also are characterized as having low religious beliefs …. and it would follow that these too have (functionally like our alien) a higher percentage of atheists.

The percentage of atheists in a population is not correlated directly with intelligence. It is however, a symptom of the spread in religious beliefs found in people and that the mean/mode (peak) of that population is not a universal human invariant but a culturally dependent variable.

Filed under: Mark O.Religion

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!