The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Walking the Walk

I think I’m quite an intelligent person. This is a belief I share with most of the world. That is to say, I’d be willing to bet that a majority of individuals on this planet believe at some level that they are quite intelligent.


If we consider intelligence to be a relative value, however, at least fifty percent of these people must be wrong. I don’t believe I’m a part of that erroneous fifty percent. One clue is that I can correctly use the word ‘erroneous’. There are, however, other indicators. I can usually cobble together a coherent argument for or against practically anything at a moment’s notice. I spend very little time scratching my head and staring with my mouth wide open. I learn quickly. I get good results in intelligence tests. All these things lead me to think that the idea of me being at least mildly intelligent is not an unreasonable one.


One thing that emphatically does not help me to prove my intelligence is the fact that I am an atheist. The fact that I do not believe in the existence of a deity does not automatically grant me an IQ bonus. I am aware that there are studies out there that indicate that, on average, atheists are smarter, but I’m about as willing to believe studies I read on the internet as I am a party political.


So why is it, then, that so many atheist commentators I read and hear about have such a patronising attitude toward the religious? Why do I so often see internet atheists who cannot spell assuring the world at large that all these poor religious people will one day ‘see the lite’? It is disheartening to hear atheists talk about having unique access to the one and only truth, their duty to proselytise that truth and their forbearance in the face of religious persecution. And not just because statements like this could be cut and pasted onto a religious website without causing comment. The thing that disheartens me about statements like these is that they are arrogant, misguided and flat out wrong.


Being an atheist does not preclude anyone from being an idiot. Or a patronising asshole, for that matter. Just as being religious does not preclude individuals from being sane or clever.


We think that atheists have taken an intelligent approach to religion and religious belief? Fine. I agree.


Now let’s ensure we act like it.

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