Can a Smart Person Believe in God?
Contrary to the slanders voiced by arrogant atheists, we who believe in God are in very distinguished company indeed.
One of the most prominent Christian Atheists I know is someone I respect highly. He is Edward O. Wilson, Harvard sociobiologist, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and quite honestly one of the nicest, most decent human beings whom I have the honor of calling friend.
Ed was a born-again Southern Baptist until the age of seventeen or eighteen, when he began to lose his faith. He no longer believes in a personal God but says, "I have not abandoned my Christian upbringing. I'm very much a Christian in ideals and ethics, especially in terms of belief in fairness, a deep set obligation to others, and the virtues of charity, tolerance and generosity that we associate with traditional Christian teaching"
We must also not forget the Rebel Atheists, persons who reject God as part of an overall aversion to authority. Their god is Individualism. Take, for example, the American feminist Voltairine de Cleyre. After many failed attempts at suicide, de Cleyre died from illnesses brought on by a life of poverty-but not before she was able to boast: "I die, as I have lived-a free spirit, an Anarchist, owing no allegiance to rulers, heavenly or earthly."
Finally, I wish to recognize what I call the Atheist's Atheist, that rare person who worships neither God, Intellectualism, nor Individualism, but rather some other all-knowing, all-powerful abstraction. My favorite example of this is the nineteenth-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. InA History of God
, author Karen Armstrong explains that for Schopenhauer there was "no Absolute, no Reason, no God, no Spirit at work in the world: nothing but the brute instinctive will to live."
I could go on naming atheism's other denominations, but I trust I've made my point. It really does appear impossible for anyone to go through life believing only in things he can prove scientifically or argue conclusively academically. One way or another, we areall
believers in something that lies beyond the grasp of pure smarts.
Contrary to the slanders voiced by Arrogant Atheists, we who believe in God are in very distinguished company indeed. The simplest evidence of this: according to a 2003 Harris Poll, among Americans with post-graduate degrees-in other words, our country's most well-educated men and women-a whopping 85 percent believe in God.