God Wants More For You. So Do We.

Does Having Faith Demonstrate a Lack of Intelligence?

Ask Pastor Alex, Ep. 30

This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex.
All right, welcome back to the podcast, everyone.
We’re here with another episode and another question.
And the question for this episode is, does having faith demonstrate a lack of intelligence?
And that’s a good question.
You see, there’s a common misconception today that to be a person of faith not only demonstrates
a lack of intelligence, but actually requires a lack of intelligence.
That to be a person of faith means that you are an unintelligent person.
It’s the idea that faith is rooted in hope rather than reason.
So for instance, sometimes people will say that people have faith because they want something
to be true, not because they’re convinced that it actually is true.
So they might say that people have faith in a deity because they hope we’re not alone
in the cosmos.
Or they might say that people have faith that there is an afterlife because they hope that
death is not truly the end.
Both of these examples demonstrate the common misconception that faith and reason or faith
and intelligence or even faith and rationality are opposed to each other.
Most people today who are atheists or unbelievers would say that faith is nothing more than
It’s a wish.
It’s hoping for the deepest desires of our hearts, but it’s not actually rooted in anything
rational or reasonable.
And so we’re going to confront that question head on today.
And just for a way of introduction as a way to give evidence that faith is not simply
for the unintelligent, we can give examples of incredibly intelligent people all throughout
history who have also had and do have faith.
So for example, we can think of Sir Isaac Newton, who is considered to be one of the
greatest scientists of all time.
He’s the man who discovered gravity, among other things.
He was a man of faith.
The same is true of Blaise Pascal.
He was a prominent mathematician, physicist, and philosopher.
He was also a Christian.
You also have Gregor Mendel.
He’s the father of modern genetics, and he was a person of faith.
The same is true of Johannes Kepler.
He was a renowned mathematician and astronomer who discovered the laws of planetary motion,
and he was a man of faith.
Now these aren’t just examples from long ago history that we can rely on, but we also have
many examples from today.
There are some of the most intelligent people alive today are people of faith.
One of my favorite examples today is Professor John Lennox.
He is an Oxford mathematician and philosopher, and he is also a dedicated Christian.
If you ever have time to go and listen to any lecture by John Lennox or just listen
to his debate with Richard Dawkins, the famed evolutionary biological atheist, that’s a
fantastic debate to listen to.
I highly recommend it.
But also if you just listen to John Lennox’s story, he talks about the fact that he did
grow up in a Christian home, but his parents encouraged him to be open-minded and consider
all sorts of possibilities and come to his own conclusions.
So he did wander away from his Christian upbringing for a while, but if you listen to his story,
what’s amazing about it is that he says that it was actually through science that he came
back into faith, that he was convinced of the existence of God.
As he studied mathematics and realized how precise mathematical equations are and the
fact that they work out in a universe that’s supposedly formed by unguided random processes,
he said that makes no sense whatsoever.
And so mathematics actually led him back to God.
And so a wonderful story.
If you have time, go and look up some lectures and talks by Professor John Lennox.
Another one that we can look to today is Francis Collins.
If that name sounds familiar, he’s a physician and geneticist who was instrumental in the
Human Genome Project, and he is open about his Christian faith.
Another really prominent one today is Stephen Meyer.
Stephen Meyer is a philosopher and scientist and the director of the Center for Science
and Culture, and he is an open Christian.
Now, these examples, they do not disprove the claim that faith is only for people who
lack intelligence, but they do serve as good examples of the fact that throughout human
history some of the most intelligent people who have ever lived have been people of faith.
They saw no incompatibility between their intelligence, their rationality, their scientific
endeavors, their philosophical endeavors, and their faith.
In fact, it was very often their faith that spurred on further scientific inquiries and
So here’s what we need to do at this point.
As I said, many people today have this misconception that faith is nothing more than blind hope.
It’s just hoping for our deepest desires, but it’s not rooted in anything rational or
And so we need to get a biblical definition of faith to better understand it.
And this is what we read in Hebrews 11, 1.
The Bible says, now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things
not seen.
Now, we need to be very clear about that definition.
The Bible does not say that faith is blind hope, as many claim today.
Rather, the Bible specifically says that faith is a combination of at least two things.
Faith is an assurance and it’s a conviction.
And these things are not rooted in emotional hope, but rather evidential realities.
Because Hebrews 11, the great hall of faith, it records great people of faith throughout
the Bible and the ways in which they demonstrated their faith in God.
And so you’re able to see the definition of faith played out in the lives of the great
people listed in this particular chapter.
And one example is Abraham.
The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 11, verses 17 through 19, by faith Abraham, when he was
tested, offered up Isaac.
And he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom
it was said, through Isaac shall your offspring be named.
He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively
speaking, he did receive him back.
Now I want you to notice how the definition of faith is at play in that situation.
Abraham did not blindly obey God because he was just hoping for the best.
He obeyed God because he was assured of the fact that God would make good on his promise
to continue the promise through Isaac.
He was convicted and convinced that God would intervene in some way and make good on his
And we see that he even reasoned in his obedience.
He reasoned with himself that even if Isaac were to die, God would surely raise him from
the dead in order to be faithful to the promises that he had already made Abraham.
So I want you to pay attention to what’s going on there.
Abraham’s faith was not blind hope, but it was rational and reasonable.
In fact, you could say that faith is not blind hope, but it is hope that is rooted in God’s
character in previous acts.
I want you to think about that for a second.
Faith is not blind hope, but rather it is hope that is rooted in God’s character in
previous acts.
Abraham’s faith was rooted in the very character of God.
He knew that God is a promise-keeping, covenant-keeping God who always makes good on his promises.
And so we can of course trust him now and in the future because that is who he is.
Not only that, but also God has always shown himself to be faithful in the past.
And so we can trust that he will be faithful in the present and in the future.
This is how all faith is recorded in the Bible.
It is never blind hope or just wishing for the best or just taking a leap of faith.
Faith throughout the entire Bible is always rooted in the character of God and in God’s
previous words and actions.
Faith always involves reason and rationality, which leads me to another crucial point in
this discussion about faith and intelligence.
And that’s the fact that God is necessary for intelligibility.
Now if you don’t know what that is, intelligibility refers to the quality or state of being understandable
or clear or comprehensible.
It’s basically the degree to which something can be grasped and perceived and comprehended
by the mind.
So when something is intelligible, it can be interpreted, it can be reasoned about,
or it can be communicated effectively.
And I’m making the argument that God is necessary for intelligibility.
Without God, we couldn’t know anything at all.
And here’s why I say that, because if the theory of evolution is true, and there are
countless reasons to believe it is not true, then every single person has evolved through
a series of random, unguided chance mutations that have resulted in humanity as we know
it today.
This means that our minds and our consciousnesses are the product of an unguided chance process
over the course of millions and millions of years.
And listen to me, if that’s the case, then why do we have any reason to trust anything
our mind tells us at all?
Now if you’re not following, okay, I’m going to give you an example to try to help make
this more understandable.
Let’s say you’re traveling on a train going to Baltimore, and it’s a long ride, so you
fall asleep.
And when you wake up, you look out the window at a hillside, and you notice that there’s
a rock formation that says, welcome to Baltimore.
When you look at that rock formation, naturally the first thing that you’re going to think
is I’ve arrived at Baltimore.
And the reason you’re going to think that is because information is being communicated
to you by means of this rock formation.
So in other words, you look at the rock formation, you see that information is being communicated
to you with the message, welcome to Baltimore, and you know that since information is being
communicated to you, and since that information is intelligible, you naturally assume that
someone has gone through with the act of creating this rock formation as a way of welcoming
people into Baltimore.
So you don’t think anything about it, right?
But what if, hypothetically, no one created the rock formation?
What if the guy sitting next to you said, hey, interesting thing about that rock formation
Well, if you look on that hillside, and that particular hillside is really susceptible
to wind and rain, and so over the course of millions of years, that rock has eroded in
such a way that it now randomly and by a total chance says, welcome to Baltimore.
Well, if that’s the case, and what you’re seeing there on that hillside in that rock
formation truly is just the byproduct of wind and rain erosion over the course of millions
of years, and it just so happens to create this message, welcome to Baltimore, you have
absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe or trust that you are in Baltimore.
Information is being communicated, but since there was no intelligence that went into the
formation of that information, there was no intelligence that went into the formation
of that message, there was no intentionality behind creating that message.
It is just the result of unguided random chance processes over the course of millions of years.
You have no reason to trust what is being communicated to you.
Well, in the same way, if our brains and minds and consciousnesses really are just the product
of random chance mutations over time, and no thought, intelligence, or intentionality
went into forming them at all, then listen to me, we have no reason to trust our brains,
our minds, or our consciousnesses at all.
Everything we perceive is just like the message on that hillside.
Information is being communicated to us, we are taking it in, but none of it is reliable
or trustworthy.
However, if, like the Bible says, God created us and made us in His image and intentionally
formed every part of us, then we have every reason to trust our perceptions, our minds,
our brains, and consciousnesses because intelligence and intentionality are behind their creation.
Therefore, God is essential for intelligibility.
The only reason atheists can reason and trust their rationality is because God created us
and made us creatures of reason and rationality.
As atheists seek to disprove God, they do so using the very reasoning abilities that
God gives them and makes possible.
Now they may reason incorrectly and they may come to the wrong conclusions, but their ability
to reason and rationalize is owed to God and God’s existence.
So all of that is to say that faith is not for people who simply lack intelligence.
Faith does not demonstrate a lack of intelligence and it does not require a lack of intelligence.
Faith requires intelligence and reason and rationality and intelligibility.
And the only reason we have intelligibility and reason and rationality and can trust our
minds and our brains and our perceptions is because intelligence and intentionality went
into our creation.
God made us in His image as creatures of reason and rationality and intelligibility.
So please do not buy into the lie that you’re dumb because you have faith.
Faith in the one true God is the proper outcome of those who properly use their intelligence.
But I do appreciate the question and I look forward to answering more in the future.