I was discussing with a Facebook friend, my perceived threat of a rising spirit of anti-intellectualism in America and the conversation sort of indirectly turned to what it means to be intellectual in the first place.
The specific point my friend was making was that one can be both a religious fundamentalist and intelligent at the same time. We were writing so I didn’t get the chance to save him from his unnecessary follow up treatise which proved his point. In other words, I tend to agree with him to a certain extent.
Nevertheless, he went on to describe a business colleague who is a first rate software developer, a college graduate, a world traveler, a speaker of multiple languages, etc., who in spite of his obvious intelligence, still insists that the Earth is approximately 6000 years old. Clearly it is possible to be a “young earth creationist” and a software developer.
My response of course was that I don’t believe intelligence and intellectualism are necessarily synonymous. I went on to explain that there are many obviously smart people, such as his well-traveled, young earth, software developer, who will still wall off knowledge that is uncomfortable or in this case, conflicts with what amounts to an extremely thorough religious brainwashing.
So being an excellent practitioner of a skill that requires a certain level of mental acuity, does not make one a student of ideas derived from knowledge and reason, which is essentially my definition of an intellectual.
I wondered as a follow up if my friend’s software developer buddy graduated from an evangelical Christian university, which would explain his absence of knowledge on very basic biology, anthropology, paleontology, and geology.
Stay tuned for hopefully there is more to the story.