Intelligent People Less Likely to be Religious

What if my religion dictates that belief isn't really the point, and you can believe what you want? There doesn't have to be an Us and Them as far as the universe is concerned. Like Madge from the Palmolive commercials would say, you're already soaking in it.

Robear wrote:

I suppose a better way to phrase the question PR and I were talking about would be "Prove to me that my life will be better if I add in belief in, worship of and adherence to the rules of a deity that can't be perceived." After all, people put a lot of time into this stuff.

Well, you first have to clarify *which* deity that can't be perceived I should worship to improve my life and then explain exactly how that deity is better and more real that the thousands of other deities humanity has solemnly worshipped over the years, but now thinks are just myths and fables.

(And add in a shot of "not everybody religious believes in worship, in a deity, in religious rules, or even in supernatural things" for form. Even though I'm tired of trying to make that point and being ignored.)

You aren't ignored. In fact I haven't personally responded because it seems odd to me that we can't just take that as a given.

fangblackbone wrote:
(And add in a shot of "not everybody religious believes in worship, in a deity, in religious rules, or even in supernatural things" for form. Even though I'm tired of trying to make that point and being ignored.)

You aren't ignored. In fact I haven't personally responded because it seems odd to me that we can't just take that as a given.

I guess it just seems like opening a can of worms to try and unpack what that actually means. I mean, I'll not ignore that point if you want. I just...I kinda get the impression that sometimes people are happier when I ignore them as opposed to giving them my full attention?

Robear:

And the fact that the Church has not modified it's practices speaks strongly against it's doctrine being bottom-up. Not to mention that the Catholic Church is, fundamentally, a top-down hierarchy. I'm curious as to how you perceive the structure of God - Bishops - Priests - Deacons as *not* being a top-down hierarchy of control...

The Church's hierarchichal structure is top-down. Religion's properties suggest it is bottom-up. The Catholic Church has modified or changed its stance on many things since its inception. This is supposed to have been driven by divine inspiration, but it looks to me like it was driven by cultural change in the population at large. "Keeping the teachings relevant" is one of the functions of the Church, and what is that but response reaction to the people?

But what is the functional effect of that? Sure, if all you're saying is that "questioned assumptions are no longer assumed to be true", that's right, but it's also trivial. Your implication here is that you are against the questioning of assumptions in the sense that once you have one, you should never worry about changing it.

That's how I read it at first, too. It took a while for me to really understand what they meant.

I suppose in terms you're familiar with, it means not to be too beholden to the "TRUTH" of any particular set of axioms. Axioms are useful or they are not. Once proven useful in a situation, they can continue to be useful in that application, without being considered universal - that is, you don't question them, you use them the way they're defined - as starting points for logical processes.

Edit - I also would assert that if you have "redefined your perspective" by changing an assumption, it means that your previous "perspective" is nullified by the change. If you changed the assumption arbitrarily, that has no real-world effect, but if you've changed it due to observation or experimental results, then yes, you could well have rendered your earlier perspective invalid in the real world, and relegated it to the realm of thought alone.

This reflects a fundamental difference in perspective. I guess this explains why Westerners are so hung up about making everyone the same as themselves, even at gunpoint or swordpoint - the ol' Cross and Sword approach.

Redefining one's perspective or POV means sharing in another person's perspective or POV - like shifting seats to get a better view of the same thing. Which view of Mount Kilimanjaro is the "true" one? The left side or the right side? Obviously, they can both be true - it just depends on where you're sitting.

It is plausible that a given scientific theory or model could be completely outmoded by a new model, but in practice, this is a harmful view to take. It makes scientists too beholden to particular theories. Einstein himself showed this weakness. It's important to remember that scientific theories are purely convenient mental models that's a shorthand for "all the data we've accumulated." Once the data doesn't fit, you start making new models.

It also isn't particularly useful for applied scientists like myself. We purposely create mental models that we know do not account for data in order to make application of certain other mental models easier. The Theory of Gravity is a mental model that is still useful. The two-compartment model of human physiology postulates that the human body is made up of just two compartments - which is just downright silly. But it's useful for certain things.

It's a radical change in perspective from what you and other people here in the thread understand. You want to assign "Truth" to a set of axioms so questioning your current set is a necessary and useful concept. Where I'm standing, I'm not even looking for "Truth" at all, but rather recognize all axioms as the different POVs of men - it is useful to be able to take on another person's perspective wholly and see the world from that position.

In other words, I don't question assumptions, but I also never assert or think of any axiom as inherently axiomatic. They're just consensus agreements.

Analogously, your understanding is that you have a set of clothes and you must constantly assess them if they need replacement - you change them if they're dirty enough so you do it maybe once a week or so. I don't do that. I just change my clothes daily or hourly as a matter of course.

LarryC wrote:

The Church's hierarchichal structure is top-down. Religion's properties suggest it is bottom-up. The Catholic Church has modified or changed its stance on many things since its inception. This is supposed to have been driven by divine inspiration, but it looks to me like it was driven by cultural change in the population at large. "Keeping the teachings relevant" is one of the functions of the Church, and what is that but response reaction to the people?

If you think any religion changes its beliefs because of divine inspiration I have several bridges (built by god and/or divine inspiration, of course) to sell you.

They change their beliefs because they need to stay socially relevant to keep the money and political power flowing.

As for the Catholic Church, they just stopped preaching Mass in a language that had been dead for more than a millennia and half just fifty years ago. That should tell you all you need to know about how serious they are about "keeping teachings relevant."

I wish I had been alive prior to Vatican II. I know there are still churches that do Latin mass, but none in my area.

OG_slinger wrote:
LarryC wrote:

The Church's hierarchichal structure is top-down. Religion's properties suggest it is bottom-up. The Catholic Church has modified or changed its stance on many things since its inception. This is supposed to have been driven by divine inspiration, but it looks to me like it was driven by cultural change in the population at large. "Keeping the teachings relevant" is one of the functions of the Church, and what is that but response reaction to the people?

If you think any religion changes its beliefs because of divine inspiration I have several bridges (built by god and/or divine inspiration, of course) to sell you.

They change their beliefs because they need to stay socially relevant to keep the money and political power flowing.

As for the Catholic Church, they just stopped preaching Mass in a language that had been dead for more than a millennia and half just fifty years ago. That should tell you all you need to know about how serious they are about "keeping teachings relevant."

Actually Latin was a living scholarly language, evolving throughout the middle ages. What really killed it was the Renaissance, and their attempts to 'purify' the language by idolizing the Republican style of the language. This lead to all the stylistic and linguistic evolution throughout the middle ages being discarded; in any case, Latin wasn't a truly dead language until closer to a few hundred years ago.

Of course the use of Latin and the general public not being literate were great ways to retain the churches power and mystique.

Tanglebones wrote:

Actually Latin was a living scholarly language, evolving throughout the middle ages.

And who were the only scholars throughout the Middle Ages? Priests.

LarryC wrote:

In other words, I don't question assumptions, but I also never assert or think of any axiom as inherently axiomatic. They're just consensus agreements.

Yeah, that's fundamentally different. Axioms are, by definition, baseline assumptions that are not consensus agreements, but rather stipulations. From my point of view, there are axioms based on the things we know about the world, and axioms based on the things we like, suspect, believe, imagine, etc, about the world. I don't group subjective axioms with objective axioms, because while the first are simply POV based, the latter are not.

To me, it matters whether the stipulations are based on the real world, or not. The latter can be useful for thought experiments, or likes/dislikes, but not for logical conclusions about the real world.

It's axiomatic for me that Baroque music is better than free-form Jazz. Anyone can disagree with that and be on as solid a footing as I am with it. That's fine. But it's also axiomatic that water will boil if heated throughout it's volume to at least 220 degrees Fahrenheit at the normal pressure range at sea level. Anyone who disagrees with that has a faulty understanding of the world as it is, unless they can show that that is inaccurate (as happened a hundred years or so as cookbooks gave temperatures for the first time, and people in the mountains discovered that they needed to make adjustments). In that case, the accepted axiom that people base conclusions on the world with must be changed to match.

So an axiom that claims to represent something *objective* about the world, or is perceived as such, can be questioned through experimentation and usefully changed if needed to be more accurate. One that is subjective, well, that doesn't matter.

I put religion into the category of subjective topics, but American Protestants insist that it's objective. In the US, if you say you never question axiomatic beliefs, then you're saying (for example) that if you believe in a Triune God, people who believe in a Unitary God are actually, objectively wrong.

Another cultural, or in this case, educational viewpoint difference.

BTW, I have no problem at all with inaccurate axioms that are still useful. It's utility that's the judge in that case, and as long as they are limited in use, they're fine. But when the axioms create situations that are not useful, or accurate about the world, but they have to be accepted in order for someone's worldview not to fail, that's a problem for everyone, it's a form of delusion. In the US, an example might be people protesting against or threatening atheists because Christianity is under attack and they feel they have to defend it, or the atheists will exterminate them like Stalin tried to do. (Yes, this is a real thing; atheism is repulsive to many because they view atheists as wanting to *destroy* religion, and thus, destroy them.)

There's the weird part for me. I don't get the point of insisting on making axioms out of empirical observations. More to the point, insisting on making them axioms to the point of creating hostile reactions puts them squarely into the "situationally useful" category.

LarryC wrote:

There's the weird part for me. I don't get the point of insisting on making axioms out of empirical observations.

You don't have to, but as you noted, axioms can be made out of anything, any assumptions at all. Isn't it reasonable to base a system of inductive logic, say, to determine the behavior of a factory control system, or program a network router, on empirical observations?

More to the point, insisting on making them axioms to the point of creating hostile reactions puts them squarely into the "situationally useful" category.

If the axiom is demonstrably rooted in empirical observation, wouldn't the hostile reaction be unreasonable? That is, should we worry about offending people who can't accept that the world is not the way they wish it to be, and become upset?

You don't have to, but as you noted, axioms can be made out of anything, any assumptions at all. Isn't it reasonable to base a system of inductive logic, say, to determine the behavior of a factory control system, or program a network router, on empirical observations?

It depends on what the factory control system or router is for. As I said, it has to be useful. It can be detrimental to insist on making axioms out of empirical observations when axioms made out of made up stuff will arrive at better and more efficient conclusions. Of course, I disagree about using inductive logic exclusively for real world practical application in the first place. That's not conducive to effective action when observations on the ground conflict with a cherished mental model that's held too tightly.

If the axiom is demonstrably rooted in empirical observation, wouldn't the hostile reaction be unreasonable? That is, should we worry about offending people who can't accept that the world is not the way they wish it to be, and become upset?

I would say yes. I value people above my personal gratification over made up axioms. Just because those are putatively based on observations doesn't change this. I still value people more. What's the point of offending someone to assert something that doesn't otherwise matter in the least?

If a kid I know wants to insist that cheese comes from the moon, I have 0 qualms about entertaining that notion until it becomes a problem. Once it becomes an empirical problem, then the person in question generally also is easy to convince to act contrary to their stated beliefs. For instance, I have never met a single Jehovah's Witness who would rather die than be transfused blood. They can object to it before, and vehemently deny after, but when it comes to it, they are amenable to practical solutions.

I'm okay with that.

And if they choose to die for personal reasons? That's their choice. I'm okay with that, too.

Robear wrote:

I put religion into the category of subjective topics, but American Protestants insist that it's objective.

Not this American Protestant. To me faith, and the organized religions that have grown up around that faith, is subjective.

LarryC wrote:

And if they choose to die for personal reasons? That's their choice. I'm okay with that, too.

In the US, that choice is also used to impose restrictions and even penalties on people who don't share the same beliefs.

MacBrave wrote:

Robear wrote:

I put religion into the category of subjective topics, but American Protestants insist that it's objective.

Not this American Protestant. To me faith, and the organized religions that have grown up around that faith, is subjective.

Okay, I left out the word "many". I fully understand that there are moderates and liberals in American Protestantism, but there's a very large contingent of literalists as well.

Robear:

In the US, that choice is also used to impose restrictions and even penalties on people who don't share the same beliefs.

Yeah, you guys have a real problem with that. To a much lesser extent, even you exhibit that tendency. I imagine it's a natural extension of the axiomatic belief thing. As I see it, everyone across the Pacific just wants their own beliefs codified into law, rather than have a "live and let live" approach. I don't see this latter thing very much, except as a rhetorical defense by losing factions. Winning or dominant factions rarely exhibit that.

Yes. It can lead to a situation where one re-evaluates one's beliefs periodically. This is useful in technical fields as technology and solutions change, for example, and at times in personal life as well. As long as it's not overdone. I happen to like "live and let live"; usually it takes actions, rather than words, to make me turn aside from someone.

I don't want my beliefs codified in law, per se, I'd rather see other people's subjective beliefs not codified in law either. That's the big change these days; one political party is actively working to modify laws based on their morality and their social beliefs, and has been for over 30 years, so it's a big deal with us.

I wonder if there's a relationship between the idea that axioms should be discarded at need, and the idea that change is good and natural over time?

Double post for Odin!

Robear wrote:

Double post for Odin!

My dog Odin agrees with you and is yet somehow confused.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/G3yBHuy.jpg)

Robear:

I don't want my beliefs codified in law, per se, I'd rather see other people's subjective beliefs not codified in law either. That's the big change these days; one political party is actively working to modify laws based on their morality and their social beliefs, and has been for over 30 years, so it's a big deal with us.

I actually would like everyone's belief given equal consideration, not that no one's beliefs are codified. For instance, Jews and Christians enjoy holidays on Yuletide, but Muslims don't get off days for the end of Ramadan. Hindus and Bhuddists don't get off days, either; neither do humanists and secularists. I don't think the solution is to give everyone an equally hard time, but to give everyone an equally pleasant time.

I wonder if there's a relationship between the idea that axioms should be discarded at need, and the idea that change is good and natural over time?

There undoubtedly is. Changing axioms is as fundamental a worldview change as it gets. It's not that inaccurate to say that you can I do not live in the same world, insomuch as you and I view the world differently. I suspect that's why I can speak in perfectly plain English and still be as clear as mud.

I'd like to point out especially the word, "discarded." The word choice suggests having a standing set of axioms that you evolve as you go along - like tailoring your hand in a game of Magic. I would instead use the idea that axioms are only adopted when needed. That is, having a toolset. You don't discard your hammer just because you happen not to need it just now; and you don't insist that all your workmen use hammers for everything from putting in nails to cutting boards.

LarryC wrote:

There's the weird part for me. I don't get the point of insisting on making axioms out of empirical observations. More to the point, insisting on making them axioms to the point of creating hostile reactions puts them squarely into the "situationally useful" category.

I think you're right here. Any given fact about a system that is available to be tested empirically but has not been should be best labelled an assumption. As you say, an axiom is some founding logical truth about a system that can not be tested

LarryC wrote:

I actually would like everyone's belief given equal consideration, not that no one's beliefs are codified. For instance, Jews and Christians enjoy holidays on Yuletide, but Muslims don't get off days for the end of Ramadan. Hindus and Bhuddists don't get off days, either; neither do humanists and secularists. I don't think the solution is to give everyone an equally hard time, but to give everyone an equally pleasant time.

In that sense, I agree. It's what happens when one group decides to put themselves above all others that concerns me.

Quote:

I wonder if there's a relationship between the idea that axioms should be discarded at need, and the idea that change is good and natural over time?

There undoubtedly is. Changing axioms is as fundamental a worldview change as it gets. It's not that inaccurate to say that you can I do not live in the same world, insomuch as you and I view the world differently. I suspect that's why I can speak in perfectly plain English and still be as clear as mud.

I'd like to point out especially the word, "discarded." The word choice suggests having a standing set of axioms that you evolve as you go along - like tailoring your hand in a game of Magic. I would instead use the idea that axioms are only adopted when needed. That is, having a toolset. You don't discard your hammer just because you happen not to need it just now; and you don't insist that all your workmen use hammers for everything from putting in nails to cutting boards.

Right. But if you discover your hammer is a ball-peen, and you needed a claw, then you must at a minimum have two different hammers, where before you had only one. And if you discovered that what you thought was a hammer was only a fist-sized rock, then perhaps you would not use it as a hammer again, not unless you were stuck out in the wild and had no alternative.

For me, religion is the fist-sized rock hammer; it gets the job done, perhaps, and people are content with that. But for me, there are better ways to organize one's life, and I also see people trying to hit others with that rock in the name of satisfying their own beliefs, so I put the rock down a long time ago. (And at least I can remove the nail if I need to; the rock does not allow that kind of correction.)

It seems I can turn anything into a metaphor.

Robear wrote:
LarryC wrote:

I actually would like everyone's belief given equal consideration, not that no one's beliefs are codified. For instance, Jews and Christians enjoy holidays on Yuletide, but Muslims don't get off days for the end of Ramadan. Hindus and Bhuddists don't get off days, either; neither do humanists and secularists. I don't think the solution is to give everyone an equally hard time, but to give everyone an equally pleasant time.

In that sense, I agree. It's what happens when one group decides to put themselves above all others that concerns me.

Nitpicks first: Channukah (an extremely minor holiday) only occasionally overlaps with Christmas due to lunar vs solar calendar nonsense. the important holidays are usually on the worst possible workdays in the fall.

Actual point: The American calendar is weighted towards Christians; they're the majority, that's fine. Hopefully businesses accomdate diversity in their workforce

Back on topic:

Robear wrote:

For me, religion is the fist-sized rock hammer; it gets the job done, perhaps, and people are content with that. But for me, there are better ways to organize one's life, and I also see people trying to hit others with that rock in the name of satisfying their own beliefs, so I put the rock down a long time ago. (And at least I can remove the nail if I need to; the rock does not allow that kind of correction.)

Unfortunately, not everyone is both willing and able to construct their own hammer to approach their problems. Some guidance from a spiritual force seems fine to me.

Even if you've got your own hammer that works well, participating in a religious group can allow you to join a community of people who built or adopted hammers similar to yours.

Belief in a god is irrelevent to the personal success of religion.

"Belief in a god is irrelevent to the personal success of religion". Or is that maybe spirituality?

Sorry for the delay in this response, Robear, but I wanted to think around an answer and was spending time with Rubb since he was here this weekend.

Robear wrote:

I don't think believers are mentally ill because they believe. I think they have issues when they imagine that religion can inform their views on how the world actually works outside of society and the like. The Bible gives a Bronze Age view of the natural world (and one that defies the more advanced understandings which had come into play in some civilizations the Jews had contact with), and yet it's incredibly common for Christians today to argue that it somehow contains or prefigures or can be completely reconciled with what we've learned in the last 2500 years.

Which I think speaks poorly of the church. I am right there with you in trying to understand why people want to use the Bible as a guidebook on how the world works. When I did my Christian education sessions when I pastored a church, I told those attending that it is inconceivable that Noah and his family would understand the science behind a rainbow. So, they used what they could via narrative to have it make sense to them with their limited understanding of the world around them. The myths are wonderful, but they cannot replace science or truth. I cringe when I hear people say the Earth is 6,000 because of the creation story as though anyone in the Old or New Testaments could intellectually fathom the idea of the Big Bang Theory or natural selection or the evolutionary process.

And for me, why should I worry about someone who tells me that a big invisible guy wants me to behave a certain way, when his Book can't even describe the world correctly? We'd never do this in real life - "Your car won't run, first I'm gonna charge you for a ceremony to restore it's spirit, then I'm gonna charge you for gas and new battery." Say what? I'll go straight to the guy who doesn't want to charge me to restore the car's spirit, even if that's not how my daddy raised me, because, well, outside of religion that's how everything else works. :-)

The only problem for me here is that I don't see God as the "big invisible guy." God is very visible to me through general revelation (the world, the universe, nature, life, etc.). God has also given me a brain and an intellect and I can't think of a greater sin than not using either of those to understand that we know more than the fine people of the Bronze Age did and in a thousand years, our descendents will know more than we do. I have always encourage those under my pastorate to not take my word for it, but to go study, read, educated themselves and listen to what God is saying to them not only through the Scriptures, but also through reason, tradition, experience and knowledge.

I'm honestly glad religion works for you. It'd be nice to get it fixed so that it doesn't work *against* me, though. I know that your goal, too.

Yes, it is, and I wish I had the power to make it stop working against you. But for the time being, I hope you will take some solace in knowing that there are pockets of Christendom that welcome you and won't work against you but see you and everyone else as companions trying to understand the world and the universe around us.

While I have my reasons for disliking irrationality, I think a lot of people (especially "intelligent people" as described in the OP) routinely discount or underappreciate the idea that most of our decisions are not actually based on rational decision-makinig processes.

It looks irrational if one doesn't agree with the premises or is disadvantaged or disgustted by the conclusions for one reason or another, but if the latter agrees with one, I find that people are perfetly willing to reason back to premises contemporaneously, and then cite those as the reasons for their decision-making, often without consciously thinking about it. Irrational thinking of this nature is pervasive and ubiquitous. The real challenge is to determine when you're doing it yourself, since you are almost certainly doing so. Seeing when other people are doing it is no special thing, especially when you don't like what they're saying.

I think this is what happens when Jesuits lose faith, become atheists, and then regain their faith and return to Catholicism - they uncover the reality first, and then decide later on - consciously - to return to their faith with open eyes, and clearly considered reasons.

Clarification: I don't want to imply that Jesuits who remain atheists are "just going through a phase." Deciding whether or not to maintain or return to faith is a personal thing.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

Sorry for the delay in this response, Robear, but I wanted to think around an answer and was spending time with Rubb since he was here this weekend.

I understand completely, and I'm frustrated with you that they can't figure out what is going on. Good luck!

Robear wrote:

I don't think believers are mentally ill because they believe. I think they have issues when they imagine that religion can inform their views on how the world actually works outside of society and the like. The Bible gives a Bronze Age view of the natural world (and one that defies the more advanced understandings which had come into play in some civilizations the Jews had contact with), and yet it's incredibly common for Christians today to argue that it somehow contains or prefigures or can be completely reconciled with what we've learned in the last 2500 years.

Which I think speaks poorly of the church. I am right there with you in trying to understand why people want to use the Bible as a guidebook on how the world works. When I did my Christian education sessions when I pastored a church, I told those attending that it is inconceivable that Noah and his family would understand the science behind a rainbow. So, they used what they could via narrative to have it make sense to them with their limited understanding of the world around them. The myths are wonderful, but they cannot replace science or truth. I cringe when I hear people say the Earth is 6,000 because of the creation story as though anyone in the Old or New Testaments could intellectually fathom the idea of the Big Bang Theory or natural selection or the evolutionary process.

Exactly. And it ossifies one interpretation of what was in reality (and remains) an extremely diverse movement, just as it turns to social and legal activism to protect itself and impose it's goals on society.

Quote:

And for me, why should I worry about someone who tells me that a big invisible guy wants me to behave a certain way, when his Book can't even describe the world correctly? We'd never do this in real life - "Your car won't run, first I'm gonna charge you for a ceremony to restore it's spirit, then I'm gonna charge you for gas and new battery." Say what? I'll go straight to the guy who doesn't want to charge me to restore the car's spirit, even if that's not how my daddy raised me, because, well, outside of religion that's how everything else works.

The only problem for me here is that I don't see God as the "big invisible guy." God is very visible to me through general revelation (the world, the universe, nature, life, etc.). God has also given me a brain and an intellect and I can't think of a greater sin than not using either of those to understand that we know more than the fine people of the Bronze Age did and in a thousand years, our descendents will know more than we do. I have always encourage those under my pastorate to not take my word for it, but to go study, read, educated themselves and listen to what God is saying to them not only through the Scriptures, but also through reason, tradition, experience and knowledge.

It's been said that atheists simply disbelieve in one more God than Christians. Like Richard Dawkins or Carl Sagan or, heck, Protagoras, I find sufficient wonder in the complexity of the world that I don't need to make up a story about how it was all hand-crafted for our benefit. To me, it's like looking at a fine Rembrandt and saying "Of course, like all artists, Rembrandt could not have worked without the divine influence of the Art Pixie to give him his talents and inspiration". Excuse me? Why is the extra stuff that can't be verified actually needed? (That's not directed at you, but rather intended to explain my own reaction to finding out that even complicated nature can have simple rules underlying it which produce complexity.)

I'm sure I'd be comfortable falling back into my old Methodist practices in your congregation. But I can't say that I'd adopt the beliefs again. They never touched me emotionally, even when I did believe.

Quote:

I'm honestly glad religion works for you. It'd be nice to get it fixed so that it doesn't work *against* me, though. I know that your goal, too.

Yes, it is, and I wish I had the power to make it stop working against you. But for the time being, I hope you will take some solace in knowing that there are pockets of Christendom that welcome you and won't work against you but see you and everyone else as companions trying to understand the world and the universe around us.

I'm fully aware of this and somewhat frustrated that in spite of specifically calling out literalism many times, people still think I "hate religion" or stuff like that. I don't. I hate irrationality when it's applied as a guide for living. Even the unknowable can be rational, in that if you accept it as axiomatic (hi Larry!) you can build useful things from it. But using it to impose your beliefs on others is bad. Put another way, you can believe anything you like, but if it does not match the way the world actually works, sooner or later you're in for a big surprise. The more things in the world are underlaid by fantasies, the larger the danger.

I suppose that this means that imposing a basic understanding of the world as shown to us by actual research is good, but that's a topic for another time.

I use rationality in this context to refer to a rational reflective process, not to everyday thinking and conclusions. Those can often be trusted for everyday things, but for things that matter, you have to reach back in and, yes, question your thought process to see how you arrived at a conclusion. So I'm assuming a process of introspection and logical consideration of beliefs. The sort of thing that happens when you sit down to review your own beliefs, perhaps in preparation to defend them to others. Or you could view it as a periodic check for mistakes that creep into one's thinking. (I prefer to identify as many of my biases as I can.)

One way to describe it is that my problem with religion is with people who answer the question "Why do you believe in God?" with "Because the Bible is the ultimate truth about everything" or similar. I'm entirely comfortable with your belief, or PR's, or indeed anyone who is not telling me I'm going to Hell or trying to make a law to make me follow their religious precepts. For me, the idea that beliefs should reflect *something* of reality if they are intended to *interact* with reality is crucial. I'm put in mind of the story told by a fighter pilot who, when training Egyptian Muslims, found some who would get into a difficult situation and release the controls, shouting "Allah has it!" as if Allah was in the cockpit and could pull them out of an inverted flat spin. I've got no problem with people who have elaborate mental constructs which help them emotionally or in similar ways; heck, people even take their behavior from movies and novels and other stories, and that can work out very well. But as you can see, if it conflicts with the real world, things can end in smoking craters.

It's when a belief structure is not based on the real world, but insists that it is, that I find a serious potential for problems. The more so if the believers are driven to get others to accept it as well.

Note that the "intelligent people" in the OP is defined in the study by *traditional* measures. It's not a colloquial term, it's a reference to the use of IQ for sorting the respondents. The researchers note the shortcomings of that and encourage more nuanced research based on more recent understandings of intelligence. So that was used in a specific sense, not the general one that you seem to have read into it.