A New Study Says Religious People Are Less Intelligent Than Atheists

Well, this ought to stir some debate. A study out of the University of Rochester has found a significant, negative correlation between religion and intelligence. The study has been stretching back over the past few decades, and following the lives of 1500 intellectually "gifted" people. Early results of the study suggested that intelligent people don't gravitate towards religion because they're uncomfortable with abstracts like faith and spirituality. However, more recent studies say that it's not quite that simple. The study seems to suggest that intelligent people often have an easier time acquiring emotional, social and financial success. The draw of religion—that it offers something better than this world can provide—just doesn't hold much appeal to them. It may well be this says less about the correlation of intelligence and religion than it does how religion is presented to people, and why they might reject it ...


Andrew Tatusko


Andrew Tatusko commented…

The results as presented here actually correspond with a study on secularization done by Norris & Inglehart (2004). Existential security is positively correlated with a decline in religious commitment. Norris, Pippa and Ronald Inglehart. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press

Steve Cornell


Steve Cornell commented…

Few professed atheists have thought very deeply about why they reject the idea of God. Most atheists are pragmatic about their belief in unbelief. Some atheists would like us to think that there is simply too much evidence against God. Yet lacking the ability to offer substantive arguments, they so often resort to demeaning labels and name calling (just read Dawkins or Harris). Atheistic philosopher Thomas Nagel gave a more honest opinion about his atheism: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/i-hope-there-is-no-god-thomas...

Georgia Peach


Georgia Peach commented…

Steve Cornell isn't correct. Has he met any atheists? Many of us have thought through the issue quite deeply (that's how we became atheist, usually). I've never met an atheist who claims to have evidence against god(s). Almost all would say: there isn't evidence against god(s), there just isn't any evidence for god(s). The only difference between an atheist and a theist is that the former does not believe in things without evidence, while the latter does. It really is that simple. The more substantive arguments you are looking for are readily available, should you want them (QualiaSoup on youtube is simple, Bertrand Russel is a little more complicated). Careful, though, as many intelligent people (you seem to be one) end up atheist when they start encountering the good arguments.

Steve Cornell


Steve Cornell replied to Georgia Peach's comment

I've met MANY people who say, "I am an atheist." Asked "Why?" The typical answer is "I just don't believe that God stuff." Probe further, you get very little substance. Yes, there are some deeper thinkers among atheists as with theists. But if guys like Dawkins and Harris are considered bright lights of atheism, atheists have a good bit to be embarrassed over. Doubtful? Start with these books: David Bentley Hart’s "Atheist Delusions" and “Atheism’s New Clothes: Exploring and exposing the claims of the New Atheists,” by David Glass.

Karl Vaters


Karl Vaters commented…

I am a Christian and a pastor, but these numbers don't surprise me at all.

It has nothing to do with the validity of faith, but with the percentages of people within the prevailing culture. Since well above 90% of people in our culture believe in God, the average intelligence of believers is roughly equivalent to the average intelligence of the general population. At 90%+, many people who say they believe in God don't do so because they've sat down and thought it out, but because that's the culture around them.

Atheists, on the other hand, are a very small minority. Very few were raised as atheists, so a very high majority came to it through independent thought - a hallmark of high intelligence. They may not be right, but they're not stupid. Stupid people don't break from tradition.

If the percentages were reversed and we lived in a country where over 90% were atheists, I guarantee that the small percentage of religious believers would have a higher average IQ than the atheists for all the reasons just mentioned.

Ben Salvatore


Ben Salvatore commented…

God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise..the world through wisdom did not know God (1 Cor:1)

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