I stumbled across your website this morning as I was googling for some perspective on an increasingly strong perception that homo sapiens is a really clever animal but actually not all that bright (read intelligent). I believe that our social institutions actually determine whether we should be considered an intelligent animal (in an absolute not a relative sense) and animals that make war, allow their lives to be dominated by fantastical ideas about reality to the point where they can not separate their fantasies from what is real (aka religion) and that gladly exploit their fellow denizens to further the acquisition of things, etc. hardly qualify as intelligent. Clever certainly, intelligent-maybe some day if we ever grow up. As a life long atheist whose moral boundaries are defined quite simply by “treat people the way you want to be treated” I have always been wondered where my fellow athiests might sit. Your site sheds some interesting light on this. Very intersting and though provoking commentary!
These are interesting thoughts, but I think you are commingling the concepts of intelligence, wisdom, and morality. I think that there has only relatively recently been enough scientific information that not believing in at least a creator deity is a popularly viable option, so I don’t count that too much against people’s intelligence. There may also be genetic predisposition toward religion and religious thinking (some of which might even be a side effect of our instinct for finding patterns) that is difficult for intelligence to overcome.
Intelligent creatures may not be wise. You can infer that a live electrical wire will hurt you but then touch it anyway. An intelligent creature may also conclude that war is the best solution to a problem (not having enough land for his or her clan to survive, for example). We might disagree with the conclusion or see other options, but that does not make war unintelligent on the face of it.
Exploiting others for our own gain is unethical and probably immoral, but that does not mean that the person doing so is unintelligent.
But this is a discussion of vocabulary and not much more. I would say that your more general points are well taken — humanity has a long way to go. Living by the golden rule (which is the heart of the second question in my “Two Questions” system of thought) is a good way to go. I wish more people — both atheists and theists — did so.