Monday, September 30, 2013

Do Smart People Need Faith?

In August, I read an interesting article discussing a meta-analysis exploring the relationship of intelligence and faith. Since this lands squarely in a major area of interest for me, psychology and faith, I was fascinated.

Ultimately, just about any studying examining IQ and faith is going to identify correlation, not causation. The four causal factors suggested by the authors sound very plausible to me and could play a role in the lower levels of faith of those with higher intelligence.

I wonder if part of the causal influence has to do with the type of work those with higher intelligence tend to engage in. I don't mean to be derogatory here, simply descriptive. Those usually recognized to have a higher intelligence (from a cognitive standpoint--there is a lot of debate over other forms of intelligence, including emotional, social, creative, etc., and I personally think those do need to be recognized as elements of intelligence) tend to have white collar jobs. Those with lower intelligence tend to have blue collar jobs (of course there is always an exception, especially with immigrants).

Let's think about stereotypic blue collar jobs. Lots of manual labor. Lots of repetitive actions. Not a lot of mental stimulation. It's no wonder many blue collar workers turn to prayer, singing hymns, and other spiritual activities during work. I know I was often bored during work when I had blue collar jobs. From a psychological perspective, it can fill a gap of stimulation.

Now let's think about stereotypic white collar jobs. Very little manual labor. Very little repetitive actions. A lot of mental, novel stimulation. In the past few years of having increasingly stereotypic white collar positions, my time has been very filled with a variety of stimuli that also fill my brain. Since I like my work, I continue thinking about it and processing it in my off time. I notice I feel like I have less "downtime" to fill with prayer, Bible reading, etc. In some ways, I could argue my work distracts my brain from spiritual things (okay, from my incarnational perspective, work can be very spiritual, but we're talking about more explicitly spiritual stuff).

The more our time is filled with the ins and outs of daily life and a variety of activities, the easier it is to explain life away by those things. We are also more distracted from any potential spiritual needs and longings, so we're not even aware of them.

Do smart people need faith? I would argue yes. But they often have more of a challenge to recognize their need of faith.

"O Lord! Thou knowest how busy I must be this day: If I forget thee, do not forget me!" Sir Jacob Astley (1579-1652)

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