Monday, August 12, 2013

New Study: Religious People Are Less Intelligent than Atheists

As the title to this post suggests, this topic was just too good to pass up and the referenced study confirms my own personal belief: fundamentalist Christians are less intelligent than both atheists and more intelligent individuals.  I would go further and posit that for the deeply religious who are more intelligent, they obviously have deed psychological issues that make them predisposed to cling to ignorance and closed mindedness (Ken Cuccinelli is a case in point as he battles his closeted self-loathing).  Here are highlights from Yahoo News

Religious people are less intelligent than non-believers, according to a new review of 63 scientific studies stretching back over decades.

A team led by Miron Zuckerman of the University of Rochester found “a reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity” in 53 out of 63 studies. Even in extreme old age, intelligent people are less likely to believe, the researchers found - and the reasons why people with high IQs shun religion may not be as simple as previously thought.

Previous studies have tended to assume that intelligent people simply “know better”, the researchers  write - but the reasons may be more complex.

For instance, intelligent people are more likely to be married, and more likely to be successful in life - and this may mean they “need” religion less.

The studies used in Zuckerman's paper included a life-long analysis of the beliefs of a group of 1,500 gifted children - those with IQs over 135 - in a study which began in 1921 and continues today.

Even at 75 to 91 years of age, the children from Lewis Terman’s study scored lower for religiosity than the general population - contrary to the widely held belief that people turn to God as they age. The researchers noted that data was lacking about religious attitudes in old age and say, “Additional research is needed to resolve this issue.”

As early as 1958, Michael Argyle concluded, “Although intelligent children grasp religious concepts earlier, they are also the first to doubt the truth of religion, and intelligent students are much less likely to accept orthodox beliefs, and rather less likely to have pro-religious attitudes.”

The paper, published in the academic journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, said “Most extant explanations (of a negative relation) share one central theme—the premise that religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who “know better.”  

“People possessing the functions that religion provides are likely to adopt atheism, people lacking these very functions (e.g., the poor, the helpless) are likely to adopt theism,” the researchers wrote. 

I am not anti-religion per se, but I do believe that it is important to understand that for millennium, religion has been used as a means to control and exert power over the less intelligent.  Russia is a classic example.  For centuries the Russian Orthodox Church used religion and religious dogma that depicted the Tsar as second only to God as a means to keep the serfs and peasantry under control.  The high Church clergy and the aristocracy lived in luxury while the peasantry lived largely in abject poverty.  Now, under Putin, we see the Church once again being used to control the masses and focus attacks on those the leadership has deemed to be unworthy.  In the process, of course, the Church hierarchy will bolster its own power and wealth.   Christ and the Gospel message are (and will remain)  nowhere in the picture.

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