Bright people don’t believe in God

There is no evidence that intelligent people are more likely to be atheists than stupid people, but many atheists simply define belief in God as a sign of stupidity itself.

People with bachelor’s degrees are somewhat more likely to be atheists than those who do not go beyond high school, but people with advanced degrees are somewhat less likely to be atheists than those with only a bachelor’s, and slightly more than half of college professors believe in God. Correlation with income is firmer: Those who earn more than $150,000 a year are more likely to be atheists. Perhaps when you feel materially secure, you feel you don’t need God.

Many Christians are anti-intellectual and make bizarre statements about both science and theology. At the same time, many scientists make ignorant arguments about religion. One academic finds it ridiculous to think that “there’s some person sitting on a chair with a beard who has lightning coming out of his fingers or makes pronouncements about how people should live.” Of course it’s ridiculous, as every Christian would agree.

Some of the dullards who have believed in God are the musicians Palestrina and Johann Sebastian Bach; artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Caravaggio; writers such as Dante and J. R. R. Tolkien; philosophers such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, René Descartes, Alfred North Whitehead and Antony Flew; and scientists (I list more of these because anti-theists often claim that religion and science are incompatible) such as Louis Agassiz, André-Marie Ampère, Robert Boyle, Tycho Brahe, Nicolaus Copernicus, Georges Cuvier, John Ambrose Fleming, Galileo, Pierre Gassendi, William Harvey, Werner Heisenberg, William Herschel, James Prescott Joule, William Kelvin, Johann Kepler, Carolus Linnaeus, Joseph Lister, Charles Lyell, James Clerk Maxwell, Gregor Mendel, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Max Planck, Bernhard Riemann and Nicolaus Steno.

The anti-theists retort that these people are too old and dead to have been aware that science disproves God. But here are brilliant people who believe in God today: Stephen M. Barr, Francis S. Collins, Simon Conway Morris, William Lane Craig, Owen Gingerich, Stanley Jaki, John C. Lennox, Alister McGrath, Kenneth Miller, Alvin Plantinga, John Polkinghorne, John A. Pople, Marilynne Robinson, Hugh Ross, Allen R. Sandage, A. N. Wilson and N. T. Wright.

And that’s just the beginning. At the world’s leading research universities, a much higher proportion of Christians is to be found in departments of natural science than in departments of humanities or social science. Among the leaders of the anti-theist movement today, few are actually professional scientists.

This post is an excerpt from the book Exposing Myths About Christianity by Jeffrey Burton Russell (IVP Books, 2012). It is used with permission. You can purchase this resource in its entirety here.

Published March 23, 2018