Godless Professors

At the Overcoming Bias blog, Robin Hanson raises the question of how to interpret the fact that more of the U.S. public believes in God than university professors do, more of whom in turn believe in God than their counterparts at elite universities. He offers the following as possibly relevant considerations:

  1. Information – Elite academics have better information and analysis.
  2. Social pressure – Random variations in local social pressure are a generic explanation for all behavior differences.
  3. Calm – Tyler says the academic neutral tone fits badly with charisma.
  4. Unfeeling – Academics prefer explicit reasoning, and neglect our feelings, which some call our best evidence for God.
  5. Safety – Anders suggests the safe cushy academic world doesn’t inspire fear, which inspires hope in God.
  6. Contrarian – Academics distinguish themselves from others via differing beliefs.
  7. Jealousy – God would be a threat to academics intellectual authority.
  8. Mystery – God is too hard to understand for academics to make progress using him as an explanation for things.

Hanson suggests that factors 6, 7, and 8 favor the existence of God, factor 1 favors the nonexistence of God, factor 4 is hard to interpret, and the rest seem neutral.

The post generated many comments, some of which are interesting and insightful.