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Monday, 26 December 2011

Why Christians are More Rational than Atheists

"People with a good IQ don't always have a good EQ to match. And I'd rather deal with high EQs than IQs, any day!" --KC Concepcion  

Last Tuesday, I got off work early. Since it was too hot (it was apparently the hottest day reported in Metro Manila) and since I needed to kill some time, I went to the Eastwood City Mall.

I went to Fully Booked and browsed through a book of detective stories. One of the short stories there was by Edgar Allan Poe entitled The Purloined Letter. It was magnificent. I am a mystery novel fanatic and after reading the story I finally realized why people are saying that Sherlock Holmes was based on a character that Poe created. Poe pioneered the genre. He was able to create a detective story even before the word “detective” was coined. Now, what do all of these have to do with the title of this article? Well, let me start with an excerpt from The Purloined Letter:
I dispute, in particular, the reason educed by mathematical study. The mathematics are the science of form and quantity; mathematical reasoning is merely logic applied to observation upon form and quantity. The great error lies in supposing that even the truths of what is called pure algebra, are abstract or general truths. And this error is so egregious that I am confounded at the universality with which it has been received. Mathematical axioms are not axioms of general truth. What is true of relation --of form and quantity --is often grossly false in regard to morals, for example. In this latter science it is very usually untrue that the aggregated parts are equal to the whole. In chemistry also the axiom falls. In the consideration of motive it falls; for two motives, each of a given value, have not, necessarily, a value when united, equal to the sum of their values apart.

There are numerous other mathematical truths which are only truths within the limits of relation. But the mathematician argues, from his finite truths, through habit, as if they were of an absolutely general applicability --as the world indeed imagines them to be. Bryant, in his very learned 'Mythology,' mentions an analogous source of error, when he says that 'although the Pagan fables are not believed, yet we forget ourselves continually, and make inferences from them as existing realities.' With the algebraists, however, who are Pagans themselves, the 'Pagan fables' are believed, and the inferences are made, not so much through lapse of memory, as through an unaccountable addling of the brains. In short, I never yet encountered the mere mathematician who could be trusted out of equal roots, or one who did not clandestinely hold it as a point of his faith that x squared + px was absolutely and unconditionally equal to q.

Say to one of these gentlemen, by way of experiment, if you please, that you believe occasions may occur where x squared + px is not altogether equal to q, and, having made him understand what you mean, get out of his reach as speedily as convenient, for, beyond doubt, he will endeavour to knock you down.

Ha! Pretty long eh? If you would read the entire story, Poe is actually saying that poets are smarter than mathematicians.

Ladies and gentlemen, with that in mind, I would like to propose a theory: Christians are more rational than atheists.

Generally speaking, I concur that there are a lot of atheists that are smart. A lot have high IQs. Some are geniuses. But not all are rational as they are intelligent.

Dr. Keith Stanovich, a cognitive scientist and psychologist wrote a book called What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought (winner of the 2010 Grawemeyer Award in Education). In that amazing book, he explained that it is acceptable and even useful to limit the term “intelligence” to the abilities that IQ tests measure, but that in addition to Intelligence Quotient (IQ), we should also assess Rational Quotient (RQ). IQ is actually a measure of algorithmic thinking while RQ is a measure of reflective thinking.

What Dr. Stanovich is trying to say is this: IQ cannot measure the human ability to make sound judgements/good decisions. That’s why intelligent people can sometimes do dumb things – even embarrassing things. The fact is, there is almost no correlation between intelligence and our ability to think rationally. IQ is way different from RQ.

Well if you think about it, you can't but agree. Just remember those nerds in high school who get teased a lot! Obviously they were not rational enough to figure out the benefits of having great social skills.  However, I'm pretty sure they never flunk a math quiz and that they always get high grades in science projects.

In an internet forum that I used to frequent (this was some years ago), there was an intelligent forumer who can give out  clear explanations on scientific issues and on some mathematical formulas. However, there was one instance when someone described one of his articles as boring. The forumer-author went nuts! Hahaha! It was hilarious. He was really hit hard. He retaliates by saying so many unnecessary things about that other person which made him (the author) look dumb and unprofessional. I still remember one of his comprehensible posts regarding the basic principles of a laser. Nonetheless, he failed in rationally assessing an opinion of a fellow forumer.

I'm not a scientist. I'm not that smart. Heck, some might not even get grasp the message that this article is trying to say. Some might even notice my grammatical errors (hehe, sorry po!)However, I have no doubt that some would accept Dr. Stanovich's idea that the smartest people are not the most rational.

Poe said that mathematics is the science of form and quantity; mathematical reasoning is merely logic applied to observation upon form and quantity. I believe the same applies to the majority of sciences. This is to true to most disciplines in science.

Some scientists would argue that God doesn't exist. They would argue that all of these (including us) are coincidences. A more rational mind will not and must not accept this.

Dr. Michael Behe, Professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, wrote a beautiful example:

Suppose that you and your spouse are hosting another couple one Sunday afternoon for a game of Scrabble. When the game ends, you leave the room for a break. You come back to find the Scrabble letters lying in the box, some face up and some face down. You think nothing of it until you notice that the letters facing up read, “TAKE US OUT TO DINNER CHEAPSKATES.” In this instance you immediately infer design, not even bothering to consider that the wind or an earthquake or your pet cat might have fortuitously turned over the right letters. You infer design because a number of separate components (the letters) are ordered to accomplish a purpose (the message) that none of the components could do by itself.

The argument is perfect and quite rational. The "design" concept is enough to convince us that the universe, our planet, "us" cannot exist by chance. It is, on a certain level, inconceivable.

The bible tells us something that is true and may I say very, very rational:

From the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse Romans 1:20

Again, I am not a scientist. I apologize if I was not able to provide a breathtaking theory that would sweep you off your feet (But thanks be to God if it did!)  The purpose of this article is merely to introduce to you a concept that though there are atheists that may seem brilliant, it doesn't follow that their reasoning skills are infallible.

Buh-dee, buh-dee, buh-dee--  that's all folks! To God, of course be all the glory!