Thursday, August 06, 2009

Religion and intelligence: Atheists are smarter? Oh, sure.

Religion and intelligence: Atheists are smarter? Oh, sure.

Friend Regis Nicoll notes a 1986 study that supposedly shows that atheists are smarter. As the "new atheist" movement gets ink and hits the airwaves, we could have predicted more of this.

A friend writes,
More poor science here. All that they can point to is a negative correlation between belief in God and level of education. Additionally, they appear to point to a stronger correlation between self-identification as a 'scientist.' They cannot say from this that "higher IQ causes atheism." Other potential explanations are that there are subtle, and not-so-subtle, influences that take place during the higher educational process that is aimed at eliminating faith.

Indeed, I have known a number of people who point to college professors talking about evolution as a negative turning point in their faith. During grad school I heard professors state directly that more educated and intelligent people know there is no God. The underlying message is, if you believe in God you are ignorant, uneducated, and dense.

Unfortunately, many students are unprepared to question the authority of these professors who are socializing them to be an "intellectual elite" according to their own standards.
What's missing from most such "studies" is the recognition that when the elite culture is materialist atheist - or materialist atheist for all practical purposes, despite insincere claims - people who really espouse those views, whether or not they are more intelligent, will be far more likely to get ahead.

Intelligence has nothing directly to do with outcomes like that. In any society, there is a pool of intelligent people - people who know how to do things - who can be, and are, recruited for all kinds of new and interesting enterprises - good or bad. And there are people who can't, especially if they don't agree with the cause in question. And a number of the latter will die. As we have discovered over the last 250 years.