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Too Smart To Believe In God?

Have you ever noticed that many highly intelligent people do not believe in God? For one reason or other they have concluded that there is not enough evidence to believe in a higher being. Initially, it is tempting to conclude that they are “too smart for their own good” and that having a superior intellect is the cause of their unbelief. While this may sometimes be the case, how does one explain the highly intelligent people that believe very strongly in God? Could something other than intelligence be responsible for their unbelief?

One of the main causes of atheism is the lack of humility referred to as pride. Despite having superior intelligence, a humble person will accept that some concepts are beyond their comprehension. They will believe the words of The Lord as spoken to the prophet Isaiah, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Is 55:9) Humble people readily accept that they are not able to understand everything.

On the other hand, someone who is prideful feels that they should be able to figure out everything. They do not believe in things that they cannot comprehend. Such concepts as The Trinity and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist are discounted as being “impossible”. The prideful individual only believes those things which they understand.

Excessive pride is not something that is directly related to one’s intelligence level. Unfortunately, most of us are plagued by it to a certain degree. In some it can cause total refusal to believe in God, while in others it can prevent getting closer to Him. In the remaining days of Lent, let’s examine our conscience and look for traces of pride. Are there some teachings of the Catholic Church that we have a difficult time understanding? If so, do we humbly obey them by accepting the words of Jesus when He promised the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13)? Or do we instead become “Cafeteria Catholics”, believing only what we understand?

When faced with this dilemma, it would be wise to remember the words of St. Augustine, “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

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