Some theists use this verse to declare that atheists are unintelligent. However, it’s pretty obvious to me that the atheists running in my circles don’t lack intelligence. In fact, many of them are brilliant.
On April Fools’ Day this year, bloggers pointed to a 2010 Psychology Today article by Nigel Barber, Ph.D., “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.” In it, Dr. Barber makes the case that there are “strong correlations between atheism and intelligence” as cultures develop.
“Belief in God declines in more developed countries and is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.” (Barber, 2010. See also, Zuckerman 2007)
Dr. Barber continues:
“The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs. (Barber, 2010)
Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “fool” in the Psalm above is nabal, which better describes a “moral fool” than an “intellectual fool.” Therefore, according to the Psalmist, it’s not the intellectually-challenged that say in their hearts, “There is no God,” it’s the morally-challenged.
In What’s So Great About Christianity (2007), Dinesh D'Souza puts it this way:
"My conclusion is that contrary to popular belief, atheism is not primarily an intellectual revolt, it is a moral revolt. Atheists don't find God invisible so much as objectionable. They aren't adjusting their desires to the truth, but rather the truth to fit their desires...
“This is the perennial appeal of atheism: it gets rid of the stern fellow with the long beard and liberates us for the pleasures of sin and depravity. The atheist seeks to get rid of moral judgment by getting rid of the judge."
In a 2005 interview with The Guardian, Christopher Hitchens gave us his angle:
“There may be many things to be said against atheism – I’m not an atheist anyway, I’m an anti-theist. It would be horrible if it were true that we were designed and then created and then continuously supervised throughout all our lives waking and sleeping and then continue to be supervised after our deaths – if that were true, it would be horrible. I’m very glad there’s absolutely no evidence for it all. It would be like living in a celestial North Korea. You can’t defect from North Korea but at least you can die. With monotheism they won’t let you die and get away from them. It’s the wish to be a slave. Who wants that to be true? It’s demanding the servile condition.”
Ernest Hemingway said, “All thinking men are atheists.” I used to love this quote when I was a “thinking atheist." However, when I examine the lives of atheists such as Hemingway (and my prior self, for that matter), I’m compelled to question the true heart of these memorable statements...
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools... (Romans 1:20-22)