The fact that the Shroud of Turin . . .

Joe Marino spotted this interesting article, Are Christians Stupid?,  by George Yancey (pictured) in Black, White and Gray hosted in the Evangelical Channel of Patheos.

imageI will soon have a research article (Coming out this year in the Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion) that provides some evidence about the unreliability of cognitive ability tests to make assertions about Christian intellectual inferiority. What I did was look at one of the tests suggesting that Christians have a lower level of cognitive ability than the irreligious – a study done by Robert Altemeyer in his book The Authoritarian Specter. He gave respondents a series of statements and asked them whether they agreed with those statements. He wanted to see how well his respondents were able to assess if there was sufficient evidence to support the assertions in the statements. He used 20 statements but on 4 of them religious individuals who had “authoritarian” . . . tendencies tend to make incorrect assessment of the evidence presented in these statements. The four statements are:

1. Just because many religions in the world have legends about a big flood, that does not prove the story of Noah in the Bible is true.

2. The accounts of many people who nearly died, who say they traveled through a dark tunnel toward an all-loving Being of Light, proves the teachings of Christianity are true.

3. The fact that archaeologists have discovered a fallen wall at the site of ancient Jericho does not prove the story in the Bible about Joshua and the horns.

4. The fact that the Shroud of Turin was scientifically shown to have been made in the Middle Ages indicates it is a fake, not a miraculous impression made by God.

Yancey goes on to say:

I am not surprised that Christians are less likely to correctly interpret these statements since a correct interpretation of these statements would challenge their epistemological presuppositions. But as I was reading this research, it occurred to me that none of the statements Altermeyer used would challenge the epistemological presuppositions of atheists or agnostics. If Altermeyer’s work is an example of the type of research used to indicate the intellectual inferiority of Christians, then such research is incomplete unless the irreligious also face the same level of intellectual challenges provided to religious Christians.