I was discussing my fear of a rising spirit of anti-intellectualism in America with a friend and the conversation sort of indirectly turned to what it means to be an intellectual in the first place.
The specific point he 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 proof. In other words, I 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 given his obvious intelligence, still insists that the Earth is approximately 6000 years old.
My response of course was that I don’t believe intelligence and intellectualism are necessarily synonymous and that there are many obviously smart people, such as our well traveled software developer, who will still wall off knowledge that is uncomfortable.
So being an excellent practitioner of a skill that requires a certain level of mental nimbleness, 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 this fellow graduated from an evangelical university, which would explain his absence of knowledge on fundamental biology, anthropology, paleontology, and geology.
Stay tuned for hopefully there is more to the story.