As you say.. tit for tat.
There was a time when senior Roman Catholic clerics, popes and cardinals, the heads of the various monastic orders and doctrinal colleges, wielded
enormous secular and political power. Princes bowed to them. They dictated terms to kings. Pope Gregory VII made the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV,
wait in the snow before the gates of Canossa for three days before consenting to receive him.
Such men could not be anything but highly intelligent. They got where they were by using every power at their disposal, and the ones who reached the
highest positions of the church were the absolute elite, the crème de la crème
– the most intelligent men in Europe. No doubt some of them
were too worldly, corrupt or simply pragmatic to concern themselves much with spiritual matters, but this was an age of faith, and only a few could
have been unbelievers. History records any number of instances of private devotion, self-denial, self-mortification and self-sacrifice to show that
many were indeed men of consuming faith.
So yes, some believers – and not just the princes of the Catholic Church – are, indeed, highly intelligent. I know plenty of smart, religious
people. My friends aren't stupid, and quite a lot of them have faith of some sort or another. At school I was taught by some very intelligent men,
most of whom were convinced Christians.
Personally, I think it's more a case of religion making people stupid. It doesn't have this effect on everyone. It depends, I think, on how seriously
you take it – how big a part of your life it is – and how you interpret it. If you let it take over your life it makes you stupid, just as
anything you let take over your life makes you stupid. If you accept foolish things unexamined because you believe this is asked of you by your faith,
it makes you stupid. If you need it as a crutch, or a moral compass, or as a key part of your definition of yourself, it's making you stupid.
In the end, I suppose, it depends on how stupid – or, more positively, how smart – you are to begin with. If you have sufficient native
intelligence, you may find it easy to make religious belief work for you, to the point where it is actually a personal strength and a source of
confidence. Or you may be smart enough to dispense with all of that, and see religion for what it really is – for better or worse – whether you
continue to believe in God or not.
But it is people who are not very smart who, I think, find most comfort in religion. Bewildered by the world, lost in a maze of conflicting social
demands and moral confusion, they are grateful for the comfort it offers them. Let's not forget that those princes of the Church I spoke of earlier
exercised power over millions of almost inarticulate peasants, whose faith was probably far stronger than theirs. And it was this faith – this
comfort for the straitened, bewildered mind – that enabled them so to rule.
edit on 17/8/13 by Astyanax because: of corruption.