Why are Geeks often Atheist?

[note that this post is meant to be light-hearted and tastefully intriguing] 

‘Geek’ brings to mind a long list of traits- Glasses, obsession with science, a high IQ. Recently, however, a new trait has come to light to add to the long, esteemed list: Atheism. Despite being widely known, there has been very little in the way of explanation proposed for this phenomena. It is the purpose of this article to address this deficiency.

‘What is a Geek?’. There can be many kinds, Art Geeks, Music Geeks, Computer Geeks, Math Geeks, you name it. Geeks are the people you want to talk to when you need to know something but perhaps don’t always want to invite to your parties. They are the people that collect information almost compulsively and nurture deep understandings of very obscure branches of knowledge. Geeks are people that live by their wits and believe in meritocracies and recognition not privilege or nepotism. They value our knowledge and appreciate those who can appreciate that and more importantly, add to it. They find great joy in learning a new thing, to extending our knowledge and sharing knowledge with another that can appreciate it. We are diverse, we are everywhere, we are different.

This leads at a cursory glance to the simple explanation of ‘geeks tend to be different, so they look beyond the mainstream religious explanations’. However, several other explanations have been proposed as well, one of them being that given the social aspects of religion, a person who does not particularly care about socialization, or interpersonal interactions might find some of the allure gone.

Another explanation that has been proposed is that geeks tend to be interested in how the universe works. Upon looking into it, many find the complexity of the universe to be astounding. From the delicate and intricate dance of subatomic particles to the raging of stars thousands of times larger than our earth, the complexity and beauty of the universe awe many of those geeks who have looked deeply into physics. It might make sense to think that many such geeks simply find something as simple as a creator an overly simplistic explanation for something so elegant.

Yet another idea is that scientists (and geeks) tend to think in terms of logic. Because they are intelligent, they believe that their approach to problems is right. Religion has no place in science. Most of what we know is gathered from reading, watching and hearing various mediums. Since we choose what to read, watch, or hear, all three of these faculties are fundamentally biased. Since geeks have a strong bias towards logic, the end result is a disbelief in a higher power, which relies on faith.

Microsoft staff photo from December 7, 1978. Gates on bottom row, far left. A second aspect of intelligence is that a person who has grown up with the notion that he or she is more intelligent than those around (possibly a correct view) wants to get the most satisfaction from that intelligence. The quickest and most reliable way to be rewarded for intelligence is to prove someone else wrong (critical thinking). Such a strategy gives you an immediate result and also establishes a sense of superior intelligence. Being constructive is much less rewarding. So it is obvious that being critical and taking down other arguments is a much more appealing use of This leads many intelligent people to spend time attempting to disprove many established ideas that do not make sense to them.

The absence of proof does not mean there is no proof at all; but it does give a strong reason to doubt if there is any. Geeks have conditioned themselves to think logically, just as the religious have been conditioned to replace logic with trust in what they are told. What can be extracted from this is that geeks are not atheists simply because they may know “more” but also because they choose to think differently (whether or not they think superiorly is a question for another debate).

Of course, after all that, we still don’t know the answer to our question.  There is a limit to how much speculation can be done in a few hundred words. However, hopefully we have shown some possibilities, and set some debate in motion. (story from m4th.com, pictures from wikipedia)

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2 Responses

  1. i know a few geeks….well being a blogger, i know a lot of geeks…. about 4 of whom are bevout Christians, one pretends to be a Christian to get girls and the others have very mixed views.

    I think it’s more that geeks like to ‘know alot of things about something’ or have something to argue the points with someone else….. both of which can be included in being very religious….

  2. Some would call me a geek, and I am also an atheist. So, I seem to be in a good position to help find the answer to your question.

    My explanation: “geeks” think scientifically and logically (this is a bias towards logic, it is simply recognizing and acting on the fact that logic is superior to illogic). Looking at what we as humans know (what we really know, not what people trust because they are told by someone to do so) there is more evidence to support the idea that the universe doesn’t have a God, and even less evidence that the God of the local religion is the one true God.
    “Geeks” (why don’t I just go ahead and start using the word scientist in the place of “Geek”) are very inquisitive people. Simple questions like “If God created the universe, then who created God?” bring unsatisfactory answers such as “Well, God was always there”. People could just as easily say “the universe has always been there.” But, neither of these two claims are based on evidence. Science doesn’t know how all matter and energy came into existance, but it is humble enough to accept this. While religions claim they know the answer to this question, their answer is based on faith (blind faith). The religous answers to this question are also unsatisfactory.

    “Geeks” think scientifically, and aren’t afraid of being different. This is why they are often atheists.

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