Given the recent internet stir over Doug Batchelor’s sermon on women in ministry, I thought I’d weigh in on one simple point: male and female intelligence differences. After listening to the sermon, I found myself wishing someone would present a more complete picture of the issue and send it around the internet. Then I remembered my monthly e-letter was due and thought, Hmmm, maybe I should take a stab at it. Coincidentally, this past week 3ABN television aired a show I did with Shelley Quinn on male and female temperament and cognitive differences!
Doug cited a recent British Journal of Psychology study[i] which showed males having a 5-point I.Q. advantage over females. Indeed, this and other studies seem to indicate a male intellectual advantage. But read on, women, before you forgo your aspirations of a PhD in aerospace engineering in favor of the quiet, simple life of a bubblehead. What begs mentioning is that the scientific community pumps out volumes of research on sex and intelligence, much of it contradictory. The British Journal article has equally-valid challengers. Rather than base our conclusions on one study, we should examine what research terminology calls a review of the literature, which compiles the results of all the scientific literature on a given topic. Just as we obtain a second opinion before cancer surgery, we spread our research weight over a network of experts. In a review of the literature, the British Journal study would be diluted by findings that contradict it—such as a 2007 study out of the University of Texas that showed women having a 2-4 point I.Q. advantage in adulthood[ii]—and the net result would be, as one Loma Linda University researcher said, “No sex differences in general intelligence.”[iii] In fact, “no difference” is the consensus of the scientific community on this issue. Most researchers have moved on from that question to identify the specific areas of excellence in the respective genders.
Equal but different, complementarity rather than competition, two halves of a whole—this is the picture of the sexes I get from God’s Word. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” Genesis 1:27. Twice, as if to drive the point deeper, inspiration says God made us in His image. Then it cites the dyadic nature of humanity, male and female. Male can’t represent God without female and female can’t do it without male. One can’t disparage one gender without besmirching the image of God. I say this for the benefit of my own conscience. When one gender belittles the other, the temptation to react in kind always hovers nearby. But sexes at war fail to blend into that divinely-purposed image of God. I really don’t want to go there.
Beyond and above mere science, I want an inspired view of gender and intelligence, such as that held by Ellen White, who said, “We who love God in truth are all working for a heavenly kingdom. There is no time to waste upon a class of work that has no Christ in it, or upon that work that woman, who is man’s equal, can do if her heart is imbued with the love of Christ our Savior.” 21MR, p. 30.
Yours in Imago Dei,
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[ii] Keith, T. Z., et al., Sex differences in latent cognitive abilities ages 6 to 59: Evidence from the Woodcock–Johnson III tests of cognitive abilities, Intelligence (2007), doi:10.1016/j.intell.2007.11.001.