Belief in God linked to low IQ?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Queso, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    And before anyone starts I'm not just being inflammatory. Richard Lynn, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Ulster is publishing a study about it. From the article:-

    The Times

    Discuss :)
  2. stevento macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2006
    Los Angeles
    oh puh leeze.
    what if said "gun violence linked to ethnicity", you'd be up in arms.
  3. kabunaru Guest

    Jan 28, 2008
    I heard about this before somewhere. It does seem that Atheists/Agnostics are the top level. My friend is an atheist who is very smart and is a logical thinker. Nobody I know is like him. He did say that religion lowers a person's intellect.
  4. macEfan macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Forbidden, you do not have access to that server
    I know many highly educated people who still believe in God. I say that study was created just to create a stir.
  5. floriflee macrumors 68030


    Dec 21, 2004
    So are all intellectuals members of these two organizations? Perhaps, the organizations themselves draw a specific type of crowd, but I'm not sure they provide an adequate sampling of the intellectual population as a whole. It seems to me that the study is skewed--especially when you take into account how many people believe in some form of a supreme being compared to those who consider themselves atheists. Odds are there are going to be a lot more people in the religious group with lower IQs than in the group of atheists just because of the sheer numbers. I'd be interested to know more about exactly how this study was conducted, what information was taken into account, and how the statistics were generated.
  6. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool
    You? Inflammatory about religion? Say it isn't so! :eek:
  7. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    I would agree. This seems flawed to me.
  8. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    Seriously, for once I just wanted to throw something out there ;)

    I actually think the good Professor is just trying to make a bigger name for himself. From my point of view his methodology is deeply flawed, for reasons floriflee has already pointed out.
  9. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. (Albert Einstein)

    Einstein has a low iq obviously as are many other smart people

    what a stupid proclamation
  10. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    Einstein doesn't actually say there that he believes in any form of god. The way I read it he's saying he is religious in attitude towards understanding the unknown.
  11. JoshLV macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    Las Vegas
    I realize that this is just a study, but it's ridiculous. I believe in God and I graduated high school with a 4.6 GPA and got a 34 on my ACT. Personal belief has nothing to do with IQ.
  12. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    i read it as he is releigious in the sense that there is a greater power at play, whter it be the Christian God or not

    either way, i dont think he believes that everything is just here for the sake of being here
  13. JoshLV macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    Las Vegas
    "I want to know God's thoughts, the rest are just details." -Albert Einstein.
  14. it5five macrumors 65816


    May 31, 2006
    New York
    "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."


    In a letter to Eric Gutkind in 1954 Einstein said: "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

    Both Einstein.
  15. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    Seems like he wasn't particularly bothered either way doesn't it? :p
  16. JoshLV macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    Las Vegas
    Don't be too quick to jump to conclusions. I was giving the the quote to back his statement up. I don't have a response to the second part to your post, because you edited it too quickly.
  17. themadchemist macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2003
    Chi Town
    Just for reference...The National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society are elite scientific organizations to which people are accepted only by invitation (and it's a really big deal to get invited).

    I think this has bearing on the matter here. It's a very small sample size, first of all, so that's problematic. It by no means is a representative group of "all intellectuals," but it does probably gets you at the smartest scientists out there. So one might argue that the very very brightest in science tend not to believe in God. But that's only one data point; if you want to draw a correlation, you'd really like to see a broad set of IQs and a correlative percentage of religious belief. The article linked claims that this can be seen to some extent in Gallup polls.

    Even if all that were true, the confounding variables are staggering. "Academic elites" are not simply the most intelligent, they are also disproportionately those who had the most opportunity--I would bet they come from higher socioeconomic classes, majority populations, etc. Couldn't that status have an impact on the lower religiosity?

    Alternatively, as one person in the article stated:

    But perhaps this isn't even true. These "academic elites" are affected by exposure to education. If we presuppose that they are very intelligent, their intelligence set them on a different set of life experiences vis a vis education than those who are supposed to be less intelligent (or, as I argue above, less privileged). That exposure could be the cause of reduced religiosity, instead of the actual matter of intelligence. This is a big cultural point. I think that today's academic institutions, for better or worse, are much more infused with a disbelief in God than they once were. If we go back to the Enlightenment, some of the smartest folks of the time and really, of all time, were quite religious (though this sort of anecdotal claim on my part is neither here nor there--sample size is too small). My guess, without this being testable, is that the educated elite once had a stronger belief in God because the institutions to which they belonged were more prone to encourage such a belief. So it might not be that the very intelligent are more able to reject the confines of overarching institutions; it might, instead be, that the institutions to which they are exposed have a different set of cultural values than society at large. The individuals themselves, in this case, may be just as susceptible to buying into institutional notions.

    And then the final glaring point is that this is probably all affected by one's field. The two organizations described above are, of course, organizations of scientists. My feeling is that scientists, for a variety of conceptual and historical reasons, have a higher rejection of the idea of a God than do those in other fields. Therefore, I doubt that data for scientists (particularly a very small subset of the most elite scientists) can yield conclusions that are at all generalizable, even to academia, let alone to all those with a "high IQ."

    Interestingly this woman has apparently previously published work about the correlation between IQ and race/sex. I must admit that I haven't read her work, but considering the topics she chooses to explore, my hunch is that she hasn't quite wrapped her mind around the concept of "confounding variables."
  18. pooky macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2003
    This statement is a little ridiculous. Science, statistics, and logic do not work this way.

    The study (flawed or not) is claiming that people with higher IQs tend not to believe in god. The existence of someone somewhere (i.e. you) with a presumably high IQ (based on your academic achievements) who also believes in god does not speak to the validity of the study's conclusions.

    Many people fall into this trap. To use an example, it's like claiming that since your grandfather lived to be older than your grandmother, the science claiming that women live longer than men must be false.

    Finally, I would point out that your (presumably recent) high school graduation hardly puts you on a footing equal to members of the National Academy. Many people excel in high school, but it takes a long, extremely distinguished career to make it onto the Academy. Perhaps, with your natural talents, if you gained the life experience equivalent to an Academy member, you would find that you no longer believed. In fact, it would be an interesting question to find how many members of the Academy believed in god at one point, then changed their minds. Few people are born atheists.

    Generally, I suspect much of the criticism of this study is based on the fallacious claim that members of these two institutions are representative of people with high IQs in general. This is indeed problematic. While it is very likely that these scientists have high IQs, they also have a huge amount of life experience that even your average genius cannot claim. A more interesting study would be one that directly measures IQ, but also includes education, family education, economic status, parents' religious beliefs, and other factors that may be indicative of belief or nonbelief. While I am not sure what they would find, I have a guess.

    Many people have used this (somewhat dubious) correlation between education/intelligence and atheism to imply that theism is somehow indicative of some educational or mental deficiency. I find this dubious, at best. I think, instead, that atheism represents a choice to defy social norms (most people believe in god). This correlation is a result of the fact that people with more education and more innate intelligence are more likely 1). to even think to defy norms (many people never think to question what they take for granted) and 2). to have the bravery to defy a social norm in public. In summary, being religious says nothing one way or the other about your background. On the other hand, being an atheist most likely indicates you have made a conscious, intellectual choice to defy a social norm, something that may be linked to education or intelligence (or something else linked to those things).
  19. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    People with lower IQs also tend to be Republicans :p
  20. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    hey now i resent that comment :p
  21. 63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    i know a few high iq types who are definitely atheists and i don't know of any religious people in their intellectual category from my list of friends i have, and that's probably the case everywhere, especially with scientists usually being atheists more than not

    but if someone has a high iq and they may be a phd or hold a master's, who cares if they, and in the usa they comprise of less than 20% percent of the population, don't believe in god

    a much larger number of people believe in god and their vote in november is just as valid as a smart person's vote

    about an equally small percentage of us use macs, and is there any way we can make an influence in the world of software titles, for instance, or even influence the computer hardware business?

    elitism is stupid and just because somebody is smarter than the next person, it does not make them more important and in a democracy, especially, it does not make their voice any louder or more influential
  22. JoshLV macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    Las Vegas
    Yeah, and democrats are just geniuses.
  23. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2003
    Terlingua, Texas
    I'm willing to accept the conclusion that the percentages for belief in God shift with IQ, but that's a "So what?" sort of thing. That one believes in God does not mean by default that one is of lesser intelligence.

    For anecdotal fun, I can track two branches of my own family tree way, way back. The Rev. Witherspoon was hired to be the boss of the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton. Descendants started William & Mary College and Emery University. You can see his signature on a rather important document. :) The Fertsch family merited a Coat of Honor, in Germany; one was the religious advisor to some head of state. Fast forward to PhDs and meritorious track records in life for parents and grandparents. My parents didn't do too shabbily, nor have I. The more recent generations have never been what you'd call religious, but I know of no atheists in my background. Me, maybe I've spent too much time in desert canyons at night to believe that Homo Sap is all there is.

    I'm no Gott-betruncken menschen like Spinoza, but Omar the Tentmaker had a pretty good idea about "He who threw us down upon this field..."

    :), 'Rat
  24. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Personal faith and believe in God is not the same as the institution called religion.

    As for the IQ being related to faith, I find that preposterous.
  25. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Yes, you may know "many" people who are both educated and religious, but the fact is, most educated people are not overly religious, even when they are not in the scientific fields.

    I'd also like to point out that education ≠ high IQ. There are plenty of only moderately smart individuals who are able to achieve a high level of education, especially because a PHD requires good research skills and the ability to write clearly; neither of which must be tied to IQ specifically. Those things can be done through hard work and laborious editing.

    Surely then you realize that you are but one person, and the preponderance of those in your intellectual class (high GPA and ACT) are not religious and are more likely to be atheists.

    You should also realize that your views might change as you leave high school (I assume that you are still in or recently graduated from high school because you quoted your ACT score). Your exposure to new ideas, and notably to scientific facts, might compel you to rethink your long held beliefs.

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