intelligent people are ‘less likely to believe in god’…

June 19th, 2008

…according to a new study at Ulster University.

WARNING: The following article is for open minded thinkers only.  Please precede with caution if your belief system is fragile…

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor, telegraph.co.uk
Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, said many more members of the “intellectual elite” considered themselves atheists than the national average.

A decline in religious observance over the last century was directly linked to a rise in average intelligence, he claimed.

But the conclusions – in a paper for the academic journal Intelligence – have been branded “simplistic” by critics.
Professor Lynn, who has provoked controversy in the past with research linking intelligence to race and sex, said university academics were less likely to believe in God than almost anyone else.

A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God – at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers.

A separate poll in the 90s found only seven per cent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God.

Professor Lynn said most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence – and their intelligence increased – many started to have doubts.

He told Times Higher Education magazine: “Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God.”

He said religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

But Professor Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College, London, said it failed to take account of a complex range of social, economic and historical factors.

“Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which – while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism – is perhaps not the most helpful response,” he said.

Dr Alistair McFadyen, senior lecturer in Christian theology at Leeds University, said the conclusion had “a slight tinge of Western cultural imperialism as well as an anti-religious sentiment”.

Dr David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, said: “It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability – or perhaps willingness – to question and overturn strongly felt institutions.”

Have your say: Is faith linked to intelligence?

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  • 1. Young Mind  |  June 19th, 2008 at 9:53 PM

    One way or another…. we’ll ALL find out in the END if.

  • 2. Thinker Anonymous  |  June 19th, 2008 at 10:50 PM

    I agree with Dr. David Hardman. When an individual feels that they have acquired any sort of knowledge it seems that it becomes sort of human nature for us to challenge anything in question. As we acquire more and more knowledge, the more qualified we feel we are to debate anything in question as long as we are against the masses. More or less what the Dr. said.

  • 3. Thinker Anonymous  |  June 19th, 2008 at 11:02 PM

    My answer to the quetsion is faith linked to intelligence is kind of wierd. I feel that our faith is not connected to what would probably be our academic intelligence, which seems to be discussed in this article. I feel that it has a connection to what could be called our observational intelligence. Things you don’t first see in books like situational right and wrong, or general human emotion, etc. Those types of things seem to have a huge affect on an individuals belief in God, or is it just me ???

  • 4. Sixth Sense  |  June 26th, 2008 at 11:19 AM

    “Intelligent” people are less likely to believe in God because they’re looking at God as “a study,” and not a personal relationship.

  • 5. endless inquiry  |  July 8th, 2008 at 4:01 PM

    It may come to seem that, as intelligence grows it is not a matter of belief or disbelief, but rather a situation that requires us to question all matters beyond the answer provided to us with a simple logic. Throughout human history our belief system has gone from natural gods, or polytheistic gods and titans, to singular ideas/gods, (which is no coincidence with the nature of our world; ie. politics, economics and general philosophical mindsets). With this in mind, notion that the more an intellectual advances his study of knowledge, the more he or she will question, ponder, or simply think about what is, or could be, an answer to the question of God.

    Having an unwavering faith; in anything, is comforting & all consuming if it is meant as your guiding beacon of light. This has always been a characteristic of those with lesser intelligence, simple minded and assuming people. Those who have though beyond the basic levels of simple thinking, who expand their mind, are going to discover that a belief system based on a notion of one is, respectfully, ludicrous.

  • 6. poorfish  |  July 14th, 2008 at 10:01 PM

    i agree that intelligent people tend to question more, thus making them discover the “vagueness” of their belief.
    but people who believe are more special because they see beyond what is already there, they feel what “intelligent” people cannot.
    in the end, intelligence just doesn’t cut it.

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