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IQ and religion

IQ and religion are negatively correlated
IQ and religion are negatively correlated

What is the relationship between IQ and religion?

We have all heard from staunch atheists Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins who go out of their way to combat religiosity and to preach the virtues of atheism. Are these atheists right about their views? Are the atheists smarter than others?

These ‘preacher’ atheists attempt to use rational arguments and intellectual arguments to prove their points. Although one’s level of religiosity boils down in part to personal belief systems and up-bringing, the question of whether IQ and religion are related is an interesting one and could help explain why certain groups (e.g. academics) are often at the centre of atheist debate.

A recent meta-study by the University of Rochester looked at 63 scientific studies on IQ dating back to 1928 in an attempt to ascertain the link between IQ and religiosity, Of the 63 studies, 53 (83%) found a definite strong negative correlation between IQ and religiosity, while only 10 showed  a positive one. The relationship between IQ and religion is therefore clear: the higher people’s IQ, the lower the likelihood of being religious.

The study also suggested that intelligence by the age of eight years of age was also a good predictor of whether the child would grow up and turn away from religion.

IQ and religion: what does this mean for IQ scores?

This is not the first study to establish a negative correlation between IQ and religion. A number of studies have shown that atheist groups tend to outscore dogmatic religious groups by 6 IQ points, with atheists having a mean IQ score of 103 versus 97 for religious groups.

These results should come as no surprise: people who are religious are less likely to be guided by deductive, scientific and logical reasoning which are all characteristics associated with greater intelligence. Higher IQ is also associated with a propensity to question and challenge assumptions, which is inconsistent with the concept of ‘faith’ and religious belief generally.

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