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An Interview with Richard Sheen on Tests, Community, and Life Story (Part One)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/02/01


Richard Sheen is a young independent artist, philosopher, photographer and theologian based in New Zealand. He has studied at Tsinghua University of China and The University of Auckland in New Zealand, and holds degrees in Philosophy and Theological Studies. Originally raised atheist but later came to Christianity, Richard is dedicated to the efforts of human rights and equality, nature conservation, mental health, and to bridge the gap of understanding between the secular and the religious. Richard’s research efforts primarily focus on the epistemic and doxastic frameworks of theism and atheism, the foundations of rational theism and reasonable faith in God, the moral and practical implications of these frameworks of understanding, and the rebuttal of biased and irrational understandings and worship of God. He seeks to reconcile the apparent conflict between science and religion, and to find solutions to problems facing our environmental, societal and existential circumstances as human beings with love and integrity. Richard is also a proponent for healthy, sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles, and was a frequent participant in competitive sports, fitness training, and strategy gaming. Richard holds publications and awards from Mensa New Zealand and The University of Auckland, and has pending publications for the United Sigma Intelligence Association and CATHOLIQ Society. He discusses: background, philosophy, and views in general; interest in the high-IQ societies and community; and IQ scores, tests, and standard deviations.

Keywords: atheist, Auckland, CATHOLIQ, faith, God, New Zealand, religion, Richard Sheen, science, theism, Tsinghua University.

An Interview with Richard Sheen on Tests, Community, and Life Story (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How about background, philosophy and views, work, and looking to the future?

Richard Sheen: I am 26 years old from New Zealand, and have studied philosophy at Tsinghua University of Beijing, China, and The University of Auckland of New Zealand. As a young child, I always had an intense curiosity to understand our universe. I had very atypical interests since I was in kindergarten, as I had no interest for things that children would normally love, such as toys and cartoons, but was immersed in all sorts of science documentary and encyclopedias. My favourite show during my earliest years was the 1950s Bell Science series, and my favourite episode was the one that explains time, the universe, and general relativity in simple and interesting ways.

While professionally I work for a large international corporation, I consider myself a combination of many things, as I have a huge range of interests and hobbies. My life passions revolve around the pursuit of truth, love, and beauty, and I believe this can be realized in every aspect of our daily life, from even the most mundane moments of reality such as enjoying the sunset, or helping a stranger on the street — to understand, appreciate and dwell within the rich meaning and beauty that lies within the miracle that is life and existence.

My studies in university primarily focused on metaphysics at Tsinghua University, where I received heavy influence from Professor Huang YuSheng, a leading Continental Metaphysics and Phenomenology scholar in China. Depression due to social isolation and environmental destruction lead me to halt my studies at Tsinghua in my final year. Narrowly escaping several suicide attempts during my darkest hours, I later returned to New Zealand and continued my studies in philosophy of religion and theology under the guidance of Professor John Bishop of The University of Auckland, who is currently working on his next book outlining the ‘Euteleological’ concept of God, one that I highly identify with. My later research, including several papers and my dissertation, revolved around Philosophical Theism, which I describe as the form of rationally justified belief in God. My academic ambitions revolve around the formulation of ‘S-Theism’, which I deem as ‘Theism in its strongest form’, as opposed to the numerous forms of rationally unjustifiable or outright superstitious (and often morally dubious) beliefs in an inadequate understanding of God. Suffice to say I have been heavily influenced by traditional continental philosophy and medieval theology, as both of my instructors were top experts in these areas. I am however no longer working on my academic ambition, as I have other responsibilities that require my immediate attention.

Apart from my passion in science and philosophy, I am also an avid creator of art. I have been an amateur photographer since high school, where I founded Depictograph Productions with my two best friends. I am also involved in art, particularly machine and character design, during my free time. Music composition, particularly oriental-styled piano symphonies are also among my favourite, however I have not had the time to create anything as of late. I display my photographs, artwork, and music tracks at my personal website Richard Sheen – Home | Philosopher, Artist and Entrepreneur ( , where I also occasionally post short segments of thought that come into my mind during any moment of my day.

Nature is one of my greatest passions, I am particularly interested in both adventuring and documenting the outdoors, and have been dedicating to a healthy and environmental lifestyle for quite a while. I used to be a very ‘nerdy’ teenager who focused on strategy gaming, and interestingly enough, I am also one of the best StarCraft players of all time in New Zealand, being the first and only New Zealand player to have ever achieved an international ranking of A-, and placing second in a minor tournament, losing 1:2 to a Polish player, one of the best foreign players in the world in 2017. I have some experience in competitive sports as I played for my faculty badminton team at Tsinghua University, and am now a casual fitness and nutrition guru. I believe that a healthy body and a healthy environment are crucial to the optimal survival of mankind and our peaceful coexistence with nature, and I strive to promote a healthy and environmental lifestyle whenever I can.

My future ambitions revolve around several different aspects, I shall categorize them in three different areas: 1) Academic; 2) Career; and 3) Family.

I have briefly mentioned my academic experience in previous paragraphs, but I have not stated an ultimate objective. My objective is not to further the debate between theism and atheism, but rather, finding mutual understanding between those of different positions through meticulous refining of existing logics and concepts regarding God. Ultimately, my purpose is to achieve an adequate understanding of God, and subsequently, a healthy spiritual life in the worship of God, either religious or non-religious. This relies heavily on dispelling the incorrect concepts and understandings of God that are very popular in both theist and atheist circles in modern debate, most of which have lost sight of the depth and richness of continental philosophy and classical theology. As such, my tasks consist primarily of deconstructing and disproving inadequate understandings of God, so that the issue may be focused in the correct direction — which I believe, humanity can then eventually achieve to mutual understanding and respect for each other’s faiths based on this holistic understanding of God.

My career aspirations lean towards strategic and upper managerial areas. I am a natural strategist and am good at leading and influence. This has been the case since high school despite my relative introversion at the time. However, I am not satisfied with merely advancing within the business and corporate world, as money and power are merely a means to an end, and I have far greater pursuits beyond the mere accumulation of wealth and the hoarding of worldly powers. My long term aspirations are focused on conservation charity and education, as I am particularly concerned for our environment, and possess great sympathy for mental health issues that our world is facing. The solution, I believe, is education. We must teach our next generation to think and act more responsibly, both on the collective level (environment and society) and the individual level (personal responsibility and well-being). I believe the mind is our greatest gift from God, and in many ways, constitutes our very ‘image’ of Him. To educate is to cultivate the ability to think and reason, to not be easily swayed by public opinion and political propaganda, and to be able to learn and understand novel information and apply them in healthy and productive ways. Our modern education focuses too much on knowledge and other formalities that the essence of learning — to equip a mind with the tools for rational discernment and individual thought — is often lost in the progress. We are taught by society to hoard degrees for ‘better employment opportunities’, but seldom taught to seek wisdom, morality, and virtue from our learning, and this, I believe, is the underlying reason for most of society’s problems — a short-sightedness that focuses on the immediate, rather than the long-term.

Family, which is the third and last of my future aspirations, is really quite simple. I come from a broken family, with a mother who is a hopeless romantic that desired love which never came, and a father who is on the autism spectrum — highly career-focused, but socially and emotionally dysfunctional. Just like every other child who was raised in a single-parent household, I have encountered many difficulties that had long-term negative effects on my identity and well-being. Only through extensive studying of psychology and the social sciences was I able to become aware of, and eventually overcome my shortcomings and strive to achieve excellence with the very limited amounts of resources that I was given. And if there is one thing I’ve learned from my past, its that there is perhaps nothing more devastating, both to society and the individual in general, than divorce or a loveless, or even violent marriage. Fatherlessness is a leading cause of the mental-health epidemic in younger generations, and studies have shown that children raised in single-parent households consistently do worse in every measurable aspect in life. While I understand that I cannot, and probably should not, intervene in the life of others, I am firm in my belief that I must not repeat the same failures of my parents. I desire to establish a healthy, stable, and permanent family in the traditional way of the atomic family unit. I desire to seek the support, intimacy, and understanding that comes from a deeply loving relationship with a significant other, to experience and actualize all the joys and romance in life, and to eventually raise a healthy and successful family, while leading a successful and balanced career myself. Perhaps, I believe, deep down I am taking on the wishes of my parents, of the dreams that they once bore, and the future that should have been. I seek to make their dreams come true, through both my own life, and together with my significant other’s/children’s life, and perhaps as an image to honour their ambitions and legacy, and as gratitude to all the things that they have given me, even though I certainly did not have the most privileged upbringing.

Apart from this, I am a semi-active member in several high IQ societies, which lead to this very opportunity since if I hadn’t submitted my paper to the USIA journal I would have never known you. So in many ways, I am also very happy and grateful for everything.

Once again thank you very much Scott for this opportunity. I am very intrigued about you and your work as well, I hope we can get to know more about each other in the future.

2. Jacobsen: What is the interest in the high-IQ community for you, including the various societies?

Sheen: For me it was largely a coincidence, as due to my upbringing I was very introverted as a child and teenager, and my peculiar interests did not help me get along with similarly aged peers. It is difficult to establish deep friendships with your classmates when your main interests in primary school lie somewhere between the biology of native New Zealand bivalve molluscs and the mechanics of nuclear fusion. Social isolation eventually led me to discover other means to connect with others, and it wasn’t long before my younger self discovered and embraced the perceived safety behind the computer screen, and the broad diversity that the internet offered.

I originally had no awareness of the existence of high IQ societies, and the discovery of my intellectual giftedness was more or less a coincidence. Growing up with very little self-esteem, I had always thought very less of myself. In middle school, a friend of mine sent me the 2003 Mensa Denmark mock test as a random challenge, and I was very surprised to find out that I managed to solve every question and reached the ceiling of the test, despite it being designed and normed for adults averaging 25 years of age. I still remember spending 15 minutes on the last item, which was extremely interesting to me at the time.

After gaining awareness of my differences with most of my peers (and in some ways, explaining my inability to fully ‘fit in’), I later joined and began participating in the high IQ community, and have formed lasting friendships with the diverse minds that I have come across, each with their own unique brilliance. It is the clarity of thought, unique perspectives, intellectual depth and often the passionate sincerity and generosity of these individuals that kept me in this community, and what I treasure the most is the rare and unique opportunity to connect deeply with other minds who share a similar vision and curiosity for the unknown.

3. Jacobsen: What have been the IQ scores, standard deviations, and tests (mainstream and alternative) taken by you?

Sheen: I am generally reluctant to disclose or compare IQ scores, as I believe a high IQ is a gift, a gift that I attribute to the works of God, as I am merely a lowly servant for the purpose of the good in the grander scheme of reality. As such I believe IQ, or any other sort of natural gifts, are never to be taken for our own credit, and in many ways, ought be treated as a gift to the entire world, rather than a ‘capital’ owned by, and at the sole disposal, of oneself. I wish to treat giftedness with gentleness and humility, and hope that one day I may be able to give back to the world for everything that I have had the privilege to receive in my brief experience of this vast universe of wonder as a mere servant of purpose and meaning.

To briefly answer your question, I seemed to have reached the ceiling for the official Mensa admissions test, which I found far easier than the type of experimental high-range tests that unusually selective groups use for admission purposes. The official ceiling for the Mensa test was around 145-150 (SD15), or around the 99.9th percentile, but nowadays they seem to artificially cap the score at the 99th percentile after a certain raw score threshold. My score in the experimental high range test that I have taken several years ago was 170 (SD15), which was the ‘Nydegger Intelligence Test Form – I’, where I answered three items incorrectly and used the test for admissions and documentation to high-IQ societies. To be truly honest, I have a feeling that I was simply lucky with my scores, as I seem to have an unusually strong ability for visual and spatial logical processing.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Independent Artist, Philosopher, Photographer, and Theologian.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 1, 2020:; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2020: Image Credit: Richard Sheen.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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