– Jesse Ventura in 1999 interview with Playboy
Most of the atheists I know are smart. They’re almost all white-collar, middle to upper income. Just look at Jesse. He’s a politician, actor, author and veteran even though most recall him from his professional wrestling career. “The poor are more religious than the rich” was the first insight listed by The Huffington Post in an article that looked at data from 57 countries.
In the United States the least religious areas were the District of Columbia, New York and Rhode Island (all with 32% claiming religion). The top three were Mississippi (59%), Utah (57%) and Alabama (56%). Would you think the average New Yorker is more or less intelligent than someone from Mississippi, whose school performance consistently ranks among the lowest in the nation?
Because the more affluent and educated are less likely to be religious it must mean the atheists are right: that God is just a myth for the weak minded and poor. Right? It paints a dangerously tempting picture: those who have all the spoils and comforts on earth must be right because they’re already right about everything else. The poor and less intelligent use God as a crutch for their miserable lives to offer hope to those who would otherwise be without.
“And so here’s the thing: the reason we’re increasingly rejecting ritual and seemingly absurd religious beliefs is because we can afford to,” says Connor Wood, a Ph.D. student at Boston University, in a Patheos article. “So is atheism a luxury of the wealthy? Yes.”
I’m not going to bring up camels and the eye of a needle or other obvious scripture. To me it seems like we’re a society who spends more time playing Plants vs. Zombies than seriously considering God. Our affluence and desire to be entertained pushes religion into the margins. Going to church on Sunday becomes less important than staying up to watch the new movie everyone’s talking about.
At the end of the day it’s a matter of materialism usurping faith. It’s the comfort of the iPhone held in the hand versus the unprovable idea of God. It’s believing the update of our LinkedIn profile is more valuable than a church service. Staying busy or entertained by our gadgets fills our lives with temporary pursuits. Perhaps you’re like our pal Jessie who is so incredibly busy the he “doesn’t have time to bleed.” Give it some thought, the plants and zombies will wait.