A recurring theme we hear day in and day out is that belief in God is anti-intellectual, but hearing the same drum banging away over and over again does not mean that drum is sound. If this statement is true then fifty Nobel prize winners who professed to believe in God, including Albert Einstein, are all anti-intellectual.
The disparaging comment that man only accepted the myths about a divine presence until science came along is an ignorant statement as there have been scientists of substance who believed in God for centuries. Take Nicholas Copernicus who lived from 1473 to 1543. He was the Polish astronomer who put forward the first mathematically based system of planets going around the sun and it wasn’t the atheists who urged him to publish his works, it was a Bishop, a Cardinal, The Pope and a Protestant Professor. Copernicus saw no problem with his mathematical system being compatible with belief in God, probably because he realised God was perfectly capable of doing maths!
Some atheists pontificate on how Copernicus was later banned from the Roman Catholic Church, how ‘organised Christianity did everything it could to stamp it out’ and then went on to ban Galileo from teaching the worlds went round the sun, but they conveniently neglect to point out that neither Copernicus or Galileo had put their trust in man-made religious organisations, but rather the living God. Progressive, intellectual and challenging thinkers are still thrown out of institutional denominations to this day, but that is hardly proof that there is no God or that belief in Christ is anti-intellectual! Jesus himself was persecuted and crucified by denominational leaders, so this whole angle is very weak indeed. Intellectual Christianity and institutionalised behaviour claimed to be Christianity are two different worlds! People who exercise progressive thought on social action, ministry and challenge error will continue to face denominational wrath, but that will never be a credible argument against the existence of God, if anything it is proof that religious institutions are not the answer, only God himself is the answer!
As further proof that belief is anti-intellectual critics often quote Rene Descartes for his statement, ”I think therefore I am,” but what they seldom realise is that he went on to put up an argument for the existence of God and warned us that without an awareness of God we can deceive ourselves through our own thought processes. Bearing in mind his conviction that there is a God I do wonder if he was deliberately making a play on God’s description of himself as the “I AM.” Either way the scientific methodology of Rene Descartes was respected for centuries, so who can seriously write him off as a non intellectual?
Were Galileo Galilei, Sir Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle anti-intellectual? You could rightfully argue they did not all share identical ideas of who God is, but you cannot deny that for centuries and centuries there have been many culture challenging and world-changing intellectuals like these men who believed in God. Men who pushed the intellectual envelope deserve to appear on stamps, but the talking heads who claim that belief is anti-intellectual do not. This over banged drum is simply not sounding out the truth, it isn’t true today and it never has been either.