Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Dumb Christians

Miron Zuckerman, from the University of Rochester, has recently published a study based on a huge amount of research that stretches back decades. The conclusion of his study is that the religious within society are less intelligent that those who do not embrace religion, causing atheists and church critics to laugh with delight. Essentially, there is now proof that people who believe in God are not that bright.

Some claim that people who are intelligent are people who can see through the lies that religion tells. They are the people who accept science and reason as their ways of looking at the world, and are much more likely to question the tradition of organised religion, or the faith that seems to be required with seemingly little evidence.

Also, smart people tend to be more successful, so they don't need God. They have houses, cars, comfortable lives and are generally more successful, meaning that they have no need to pray for more things. Their needs are met, so they don't have to turn to a giant spaghetti monster in the sky to solve lingering problems.

As you may have picked up, I am a Christian, meaning that the publication of this report seems a bit like a personal comment on my intelligence. Obviously, it was not meant that way, but it does make me think about the people within my local church, or in the church across the country. Are we simply a collection of people with lower than average intelligence, clinging to a fairy tale to make ourselves cope a little better with life?

In addition to this, since I have written quite a bit about how God is meant to be the rock on which to build a prosperous nation, it seems a little offputting that it now turns out that people who follow a religion, including Christians, are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

If you look at the people who turn up on a sunday, you can certainly see a cross section of society. There are the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the bright and, yes, the not so bright. There are professors, teachers, builders, cleaners and people from all kinds of professions. It seems really hard to put them into a box, and we often regard it as a little bit of a miracle that all these people can actually get along with each other.

Looking at the church, though, does bring to mind some of the report. Churches are not filled with brainiacs or those less gifted, but with people that are broken and weak. The study is right when it points out that people who turn to faith are those without much else to turn to. Whether or not you are Christian, however, is nothing to do with your brain power, but whether or not you have reached a point of weakness in your life when faith has become the thing that you cling to.

Maybe the smarter people, with the more money, don't reach that stage as much, so don't have to to turn to faith, but the weaklings that we see in church are certainly relying on God to come through for them.

The church is made of the weak and the broken, the unwanted and the hurt, so it would make sense that the study might notice this about them. That is not to say, however, that we are clinging to a false hope in order to give us something to fight for. The church is meant to be made up of these people, because these are the people that God wants to do amazing things for, and these are the people who have realised exactly what Christianity means.

It may seem bizarre, or frankly weird, to say that the church is meant for weak people, but that is generally what is has been for the last 2,000 years. Those that recognise their car needs fixing go to a mechanic to get it fixed, just like those who know they are broken go to God to get fixed. Everyone is pretty screwed up, but often it is those who are the most screwed up who do something about it first.

Therefore, the church is a broad group of people united only by being weak enough to seek the truth. They are the bunch that took the step of faith, and found a whole new world on the other side.

So, I don't feel that I should give up my dream of a country based on God. I also don't think I am surrounded by idiots, because these are the people who have the made the most intelligent decision that could ever be made.

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