Several studies have shown that there’s a strong positive correlation between intelligence and atheism. In fact, the U.S. is somewhat of an anomaly in the fact that we have a fairly decent educational system (at least when compared to the entire world). We have elected (or appointed, as the case may be) a President who says that God comes to him in dreams and has commanded him to attack Iraq. Yet people, for the most part, seem to be OK with it. After all, how can you question an irrational belief?
The Telegraph has posted another article that draws what shouldn’t be a surprising conclusion. From Intelligent people ‘less likely to believe in God’:
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.
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.”
I have written previously about the strong correlation between religiosity and rates such social issues as teen pregnancy and violence. You can see that within the U.S. (e.g., in the Bible Belt and in Republican States) as well as throughout the globe. Yet, people seem to cling to the idea that religion is good.
A common response to this kind of evidence (when there’s even one at all), is that the belief in God is fundamentally good, but people just seem to always get it wrong. That is, it’s the people that are the problem – not faith itself. I clearly disagree. If faith is generally defined as the belief in something without evidence, then how can it be considered a good thing?
And then there are those who maintain that religious beliefs should be personal. I disagree there, as well. If the goal is the search for truth, then we should treat religious claims like any other. We should demand evidence and research the claims that are being made. The truth is, of course, that there is no reliable evidence whatsoever for the existence of a supreme being of any sort. Those that choose to believe in one should admit at least that much.
Finally, it’s always interesting to me how most religious people can quickly dismiss any religion other than their own. They readily see the internal and external contradictions and hypocrisy associated with any God other than their own (or, in some cases, even within different interpretations of their own holy books). Richard Dawkins sums it up nicely in stating that most humans have chosen to disbelieve in thousands of religions (past, present, and most likely, future). Some of us just go one further.
Also, as Dawkins has expressed in his book, The God Delusion, we should stop being “polite” to people who have indefensible views. Just as we would correct people that make any wild assertion about math or science without any background, we should ask for more from those that claim to be faithful. I’d like to think that the tide is turning (in the direction of rationalism), but the last decade or so in the United States is not a good sign.