Every now and then, articles and surveys pop up suggesting that religious people are, by whatever criteria, dumber than then general population—or at least dumber than atheists. Today Bishop Barron responds to this and the charge that religion has a “smart-people problem.” A listener asks about new ecclesial movements in the Church.

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Topics Discussed

  • 0:05 – Intro and Catholic podcast recommendations
  • 1:30 – Bishop Barron’s initial reaction to the articles claiming that religion has a smart-people problem.
  • 5:00 – What does it say about religion when studies show that most scientists are atheists?
  • 8:30 – Is it worrisome that most professional philosophers are atheists?
  • 12:00 – Does it matter that most religious philosophers are theists?
  • 13:30 – How does the culture feel about religious people, are they considered childish and simple-minded?
  • 17:50 – What does historical evidence tell us about the relationship between science and religion?
  • 19:30 – Question from listener: What’s your take on Communion and Liberation and other ecclesial movements in the Church?

Bonus Resources 

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8 comments on “WOF 091: Does Religion Have a Smart-People Problem?

  1. Michael Greenan Sep 4, 2017

    I apologize a trillion times because this comment is NOT ecumenical, but here it is: Catholics need to distance themselves from evangelicals, who take every part of the Bible literally. Catholicism is brilliant. But evangelicalism is a heresy that is indeed often simple-minded. I’m so sorry, but it’s true.

    • Judith Mary Rose Sep 5, 2017

      Dear Bishop Barron or whomever reads this comment. Your “non-ecumenical” remark hits me in the heart. I am 77, raised and educated in the Catholic church, then spent 8 years as a Dominican sister. Then we went through the Vatican II directives to go through our Rule Book & the N.T. and vote (over a series of weeks) if we believed our order was following the lead of Jesus or not. I voted “NO” and left the Order and was lost for a great while. Then I married, raised two sons, in the So. Baptist church and learned the Bible for the very first time. I was amazed how wonderful it was. Then we moved and joined the Assemblies of God and learned “Spirit -filled” living for the first time. Amazed again! I have now been in the Episcopal Church for 16 years as I missed the Mass while my now grown sons are both strong “evangelicals” and I am now homebound because of 12 autoimmune diseases, a collapsing spine, etc etc. So — I spend every Sunday watching most of the Evangelicals and loving God the whole time and you are telling me I am heretical when the Evangelists I watch are preaching the exact same thing I was taught in all my Catholic schools and even Catholic University! There is something very wrong with this picture. It was the Evangelicals who taught me the Bible, not the Catholics. The Evangelicals taught me Spirit-filled living, not the Catholics. I am now forced to be homebound and you are telling me I am a heretic because I am finding God where I can. While it was the Catholics who dumbed me down in the first place by not teaching the Bible and not teaching Spirit-filled living. I am deeply hurt by your comment. and would appreciate some honesty from the errant Catholic Church for their omissions, effecting all in my generation. The Catholic Church has committed serious errors over the centuries. There is no room for your “better-than-thou” remark. Sincerely, Judith Rose

      • Judith Mary Rose Sep 5, 2017

        Dear Bishop Barron or whomever reads this comment. Your “non-ecumenical” remark hits me in the heart. I am 77, raised and educated in the Catholic church, then spent 8 years as a Dominican sister. Then we went through the Vatican II directives to go through our Rule Book & the N.T. and vote (over a series of weeks) if we believed our order was following the lead of Jesus or not. I voted “NO” and left the Order and was lost for a great while. Then I married, raised two sons, in the So. Baptist church and learned the Bible for the very first time. I was amazed how wonderful it was. Then we moved and joined the Assemblies of God and learned “Spirit -filled” living for the first time. Amazed again! I have now been in the Episcopal Church for 16 years as I missed the Mass while my now grown sons are both strong “evangelicals” and I am now homebound because of 12 autoimmune diseases, a collapsing spine, etc etc. So — I spend every Sunday watching most of the Evangelicals and loving God the whole time and you are telling me I am heretical when the Evangelists I watch are preaching the exact same thing I was taught in all my Catholic schools and even Catholic University! There is something very wrong with this picture. It was the Evangelicals who taught me the Bible, not the Catholics. The Evangelicals taught me Spirit-filled living, not the Catholics. I am now forced to be homebound and you are telling me I am a heretic because I am finding God where I can. While it was the Catholics who dumbed me down in the first place by not teaching the Bible and not teaching Spirit-filled living. I am deeply hurt by your comment. and would appreciate some honesty from the errant Catholic Church for their omissions, effecting all in my generation. The Catholic Church has committed serious errors over the centuries. There is no room for your “better-than-thou” remark. Sincerely, Judith Rose

      • Romel Yao Sep 5, 2017

        I’m sorry to hear that and that you felt that way. I heard many sad things that happened to other people as well with heir experience in the Catholic Church. Even I had some similar experience with you as well. Before, I didn’t felt God. I became an atheist in a sense, not believing in God. But the time came when I was really down and things happened, andjust to make things short, the next thing I knew I was asking God to help me. It wasn’t easy getting back up. But somehow God was there. Then I came to the knowledge of a community called Light of Jesus. It’s a Catholic Charismatic community. There I learned many things. One of those is Bible Study. They’d purchase a video, materials, etc with Ascension press and we do Bible Study and learned many great things. So what am I getting at?

        Well, thru Bible Study I’ve learned that the Catholic Church is really the Church that Jesus founded thru St. Peter. The sit of Peter is an office (this can be traced way back in the Davidic kingdom in the book of kings – the al habayit), and an office is something that will always be there even if the one sitting there dies. An person sitting in an office is replaceable, but the office itself is not (because we’re talking of an eternal kingdom).

        I understand how you feel hearing this because of your experience with the Catholic Church compared to the other churches you have been with. You weren’t fed in the Catholic Church, because honestly, there are so many Catholics who don’t know what being a Catholic is all about. And I have been one of them and I currently is still a work in progress. But the main point is, if a person’s goal is to really know, Biblically, the Church that Jesus founded, it would be the Catholic Church. But I tell you, it’s a very messy Church. And people like you who knew how to love is what the Church needs. Christ’s apostles had a Judas in them, and right now, there are still many Judas in the Catholic Church. But having some Judas in the Church does not make the Church not a Church that Jesus created.

        May God bless you. I hope that we both get to go to heaven. So that I can see you and talk to you some more.

  2. Could you please list down the other podcasts you recommended on the show, and point us to where to find them ? I could not find Catching Foxes or Made to Magnify on iTunes.
    Thanks!

  3. About religious people being dumb – I think the general accusation is that religious people believe what they believe because of social conditioning and a mentality of tribalism within a religious community (which is allegedly due to natural selection according to the Newsweek link). And then atheists, on the other hand, are “intelligent” enough to rise above their instincts and conditioning. They’re able to “think for themselves” and go their own way. The atheist commenters are not feigning surprise; they really believe nearly all religious people are simple and not that bright or curious. I wonder what Bishop Barron would say about studies that claim that there is a correlation between raw intelligence and less religiosity.

  4. Dilrukshan dominic Sep 5, 2017

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  5. I am glad to hear Brandon giving other podcasts some recommendations. I have a theory that when a sports announcer has to say the name of an opposing network his lifespan is shortened by 15 minutes (so if, say, a CBS announcer says “ESPN” he loses 15 minutes in his lifespan). But of course I do not buy into this for Brandon’s case! Anyway, I agree that Pints with Aquinas and Do Something Beautiful are good podcasts. I also love Father Mike Schmitz’s “podcasts” (which is simply his homilies on iTunes), which are awesome for college aged people but good for anyone. I enjoy Jeff Cavins as well, and I like to download Relevant Radio archives. But the Word on Fire Show is the best podcast now!

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