Intelligent people “less likely to believe in God”

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

GodI always love how they bring out a new ‘study’ every week claiming to ‘prove’ something, and you wonder how on earth they managed to find the funding for it. Well here’s another one for you. A new study has ‘proven’ that people with higher IQ’s are less likely to believe in God.

Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University is apparently the author of the study and he seems to think that this explains why there has been a decline in the number of religious people over the years – because people are getting smarter.

But as you can imagine, it wasn’t long before everyone was lining up to attack Professor Lynn and his rather whacky theory. One called the study “a slight tinge of Western cultural imperialism as well as an anti-religious sentiment”.

The Professor was unable to respond because God had sent a plague of locusts to his house as a joke. God has a strange sense of humour!

But seriously, what purpose do these ‘studies’ serve? Regardless of whether they are right or wrong, what purpose do they serve other than to rile people up and hurt people’s feelings? They don’t change society for the better and all Professor Lynn has done with his ‘study’ is offend less intelligent people by suggesting that they only believe in God because they don’t have the intelligence to believe otherwise.

Via Daily Telegraph

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39 Responses to Intelligent people “less likely to believe in God”

  1. Ok so I'll answer what you asked first and I agree with you, we live in a society of studies and polls and reality tv, and yeah frankly the way the idea has been perverted sickens me a bit. For example, studies into the effect of smoking funded by tabacco companies or results that claim embryos are concious from conception or whatever. So yeah, I've not much time for alot of them.

    However, in this case, I can't see the problem. The only thing I'd dispute is the use of the word 'Intelligence' and argue to have it swapped with 'educated'. Perhaps people are more educated today as compared with 20 years ago but I would say if so, that it's only through more intensive exercising of the mind in fairly selective area's. You could argue for example that in general, the fact that a greater majority of the young western population is less able mechanically and in physical tasks (wood/metal work or just plain manual labour) as a sign of a decrease in intelligence. But of course neither of them are true. Not to any great degree anyway.

    But to the main point, I agree with the general thrust of the argument/study. Religion has traditionally been, since it's emergence, a force for mental retardation (and I use that word in the most literal meaning) and repression. Perhaps you could distinguish between religion and religious institutes but I think that would be like trying to get a full study (sorry) of a human without being able to observe basic human instincts. Whether the ideal (and I say ideal because I don't think it's ever truely been achieved) will always be shackled and doomed by the flaws of human organisations is questionable but I think history shows that the human desire to maintain power has lead the church (my knowledge is of mainly Catholic instances) to mark it's entire history with a record of obstructing discovery, understanding and progress.

    I really do believe that people who believe in a God that actively interferes in our world, whether that be the God that moves ever sub-atomic particle or the God that just pops up to perform the odd miracle, have not faced the full realities of observable evidence, logic, and, basically, science. That these views are finally getting some voice is a miniscule acheivement compared to the unchallenged dominance and unquestioned authority that religion dogma has enjoyed for millenia.

    I would urge everyone to read Richard Dawkins, 'The God Delusion', even if the very title insults you to the core or you've already heard and were infuriated by Dawkin's unwavering assault on religion's choke hold on humanity (he could stand to be a little more tactful. But it Will address every approach to the subject. And I have also read the bible.

    Let me just finish that monster rant by saying, I'm human, I'm conscious, and I consider what might happen when I die. I'd love to think that all deserving people go to heaven, a wonderful carefree place, where we all live forever. But seriously. Who can actually believe this? I hope that there's some kind of afterlife but I can't actually believe in something that hasn't given any actual indication of existing. And I wouldn't want to spend eternity doing absolutely nothing but basking in His radiance. What a pointless life. And if God refuses me entry into heaven because of these views then, while burning in Hell, I'll obviously wish I'd been a devout Catholic/whatever, but only cause I don't like the feel of burning flesh, not out of any respect for a being that requires constant (and in my opinion, consequently undeserved) adulation.

    If there is a God, it's either a being of this universe that created/started life on Earth, or a truely inconceivable entity, outside of our universe, beyond our understanding or conception, the one that started everything (no small feat), and is now letting this infinately amazing system play itself out (through choice or the inablilty to intervene), while this God returned to life in his own existance, perhaps looking in as an observer.

    Wow, that monster really developed a life of it's own, eh? And I am sorry if that offended anyone, but how'd you think gay people feel when hearing from the bible about how they're an abomination?

  2. Ok so I’ll answer what you asked first and I agree with you, we live in a society of studies and polls and reality tv, and yeah frankly the way the idea has been perverted sickens me a bit. For example, studies into the effect of smoking funded by tabacco companies or results that claim embryos are concious from conception or whatever. So yeah, I’ve not much time for alot of them.

    However, in this case, I can’t see the problem. The only thing I’d dispute is the use of the word ‘Intelligence’ and argue to have it swapped with ‘educated’. Perhaps people are more educated today as compared with 20 years ago but I would say if so, that it’s only through more intensive exercising of the mind in fairly selective area’s. You could argue for example that in general, the fact that a greater majority of the young western population is less able mechanically and in physical tasks (wood/metal work or just plain manual labour) as a sign of a decrease in intelligence. But of course neither of them are true. Not to any great degree anyway.

    But to the main point, I agree with the general thrust of the argument/study. Religion has traditionally been, since it’s emergence, a force for mental retardation (and I use that word in the most literal meaning) and repression. Perhaps you could distinguish between religion and religious institutes but I think that would be like trying to get a full study (sorry) of a human without being able to observe basic human instincts. Whether the ideal (and I say ideal because I don’t think it’s ever truely been achieved) will always be shackled and doomed by the flaws of human organisations is questionable but I think history shows that the human desire to maintain power has lead the church (my knowledge is of mainly Catholic instances) to mark it’s entire history with a record of obstructing discovery, understanding and progress.

    I really do believe that people who believe in a God that actively interferes in our world, whether that be the God that moves ever sub-atomic particle or the God that just pops up to perform the odd miracle, have not faced the full realities of observable evidence, logic, and, basically, science. That these views are finally getting some voice is a miniscule acheivement compared to the unchallenged dominance and unquestioned authority that religion dogma has enjoyed for millenia.

    I would urge everyone to read Richard Dawkins, ‘The God Delusion’, even if the very title insults you to the core or you’ve already heard and were infuriated by Dawkin’s unwavering assault on religion’s choke hold on humanity (he could stand to be a little more tactful. But it Will address every approach to the subject. And I have also read the bible.

    Let me just finish that monster rant by saying, I’m human, I’m conscious, and I consider what might happen when I die. I’d love to think that all deserving people go to heaven, a wonderful carefree place, where we all live forever. But seriously. Who can actually believe this? I hope that there’s some kind of afterlife but I can’t actually believe in something that hasn’t given any actual indication of existing. And I wouldn’t want to spend eternity doing absolutely nothing but basking in His radiance. What a pointless life. And if God refuses me entry into heaven because of these views then, while burning in Hell, I’ll obviously wish I’d been a devout Catholic/whatever, but only cause I don’t like the feel of burning flesh, not out of any respect for a being that requires constant (and in my opinion, consequently undeserved) adulation.

    If there is a God, it’s either a being of this universe that created/started life on Earth, or a truely inconceivable entity, outside of our universe, beyond our understanding or conception, the one that started everything (no small feat), and is now letting this infinately amazing system play itself out (through choice or the inablilty to intervene), while this God returned to life in his own existance, perhaps looking in as an observer.

    Wow, that monster really developed a life of it’s own, eh? And I am sorry if that offended anyone, but how’d you think gay people feel when hearing from the bible about how they’re an abomination?

  3. As mankind's understanding of science and life continually expands (with no discernible end in sight), how can all this complexity and intentful design be ignored? I'm positive that "god" exists… we're all here for a reason. What nobody agrees on is the concept of him…

  4. As mankind’s understanding of science and life continually expands (with no discernible end in sight), how can all this complexity and intentful design be ignored? I’m positive that “god” exists… we’re all here for a reason. What nobody agrees on is the concept of him…

  5. I have to agree with the study. The god concept is for the uneducated and even unintelligent.

  6. I have to agree with the study. The god concept is for the uneducated and even unintelligent.

  7. Since none of these people are defining God before disputing his existence it's pretty easy to dispute. Anyone can disprove or deny the existence of their own theory.

    What people have a hard time grasping is the concept of a an emergent consciosness or awareness greater than their own.

    No one can explain man's own consciousness and it's limitlessness, yet people have faith they exist, how is God any different?

    Until someone can explain how man's conscioussness exists how can anyone disprove the possible existence of an even greater consciousness?

    Did you know the scientific method was created by monks to prove there was a greater power at work in the universe beyond our understanding and to pursue it?

    Anyone who wants to dispute the possibility of the existence of God is a fool. God is at the edge of infinity, just beyond our understanding but not perception, just like our own consciousness. The closer we get the more there is to learn and understand.

    Before speaking out against such things one needs to understand system theory and emergence. They explain exactly what the edge of of understanding is, and why it will always exist.

    It also helps to study the mythos and the logos, and the difference between possibility, probability and actuality. Science is all about moving ideas from the realm of possibility to probablity to actuality. From ideas to reality.

    Believing in God is as easy as believing in the concept of NULL. NULL doesn't exist but every programmer believes in it and relies on it. Without it we would not have computers. NULL is possibility, 0 is probablity, 1 is actuality. That's the stage and the cast that is required for reality.

    God is as simple as infinity. I've only met one person who didn't believe in infinity – his reason being because it's unreachable. It doesn't mean science doesn't rely on it or have faith it's existence.

    Now if you want to dispute or debate the stories in a person's Bible and their individual concept of God as a moral compass that's a whole separate issue.

  8. Since none of these people are defining God before disputing his existence it’s pretty easy to dispute. Anyone can disprove or deny the existence of their own theory.

    What people have a hard time grasping is the concept of a an emergent consciosness or awareness greater than their own.

    No one can explain man’s own consciousness and it’s limitlessness, yet people have faith they exist, how is God any different?

    Until someone can explain how man’s conscioussness exists how can anyone disprove the possible existence of an even greater consciousness?

    Did you know the scientific method was created by monks to prove there was a greater power at work in the universe beyond our understanding and to pursue it?

    Anyone who wants to dispute the possibility of the existence of God is a fool. God is at the edge of infinity, just beyond our understanding but not perception, just like our own consciousness. The closer we get the more there is to learn and understand.

    Before speaking out against such things one needs to understand system theory and emergence. They explain exactly what the edge of of understanding is, and why it will always exist.

    It also helps to study the mythos and the logos, and the difference between possibility, probability and actuality. Science is all about moving ideas from the realm of possibility to probablity to actuality. From ideas to reality.

    Believing in God is as easy as believing in the concept of NULL. NULL doesn’t exist but every programmer believes in it and relies on it. Without it we would not have computers. NULL is possibility, 0 is probablity, 1 is actuality. That’s the stage and the cast that is required for reality.

    God is as simple as infinity. I’ve only met one person who didn’t believe in infinity – his reason being because it’s unreachable. It doesn’t mean science doesn’t rely on it or have faith it’s existence.

    Now if you want to dispute or debate the stories in a person’s Bible and their individual concept of God as a moral compass that’s a whole separate issue.

  9. Well, I'll be honest, I do tend to side with some of the commentators here. I'll say that I think indoctrination is usually a bad thing and active learning is rarely a bad thing. Science and other fields focus on learning, while challenging the status quo. Religions, by and large, are not designed to be questioned and therefore need to enforce indoctrination.

    The more intelligent (though I have never trusted IQ tests as a good measure of intelligence) have better access to science and other thinking fields and the less intelligent will, probably, not have as good an access. Let us ALL be intelligent and raise our children in an environment where faith comes from educated acceptance and not blind indoctrination by religion.

  10. Well, I’ll be honest, I do tend to side with some of the commentators here. I’ll say that I think indoctrination is usually a bad thing and active learning is rarely a bad thing. Science and other fields focus on learning, while challenging the status quo. Religions, by and large, are not designed to be questioned and therefore need to enforce indoctrination.

    The more intelligent (though I have never trusted IQ tests as a good measure of intelligence) have better access to science and other thinking fields and the less intelligent will, probably, not have as good an access. Let us ALL be intelligent and raise our children in an environment where faith comes from educated acceptance and not blind indoctrination by religion.

  11. Just because people got upset and attacked the messenger, doesn't mean the message wasn't true.

    These days I struggle to find the benefits of religion.

  12. Just because people got upset and attacked the messenger, doesn’t mean the message wasn’t true.

    These days I struggle to find the benefits of religion.

  13. I don't think it's a matter of intelligence, it's probably more related to how much knowledge or understanding you have and the way you look at it.

    Personally I believe in the existence of GOD, and I've known people who are well educated and not by a chance unintelligent who also believe in GOD. It's not like believing in GOD = ignorance, or the other way around.

    Like some of the commentators say probably the best thing is to not let indoctrination guide you to faith, while studies, reading and learning should be the way of understanding and accepting the existence of a greater being.

    IMHO…

  14. I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence, it’s probably more related to how much knowledge or understanding you have and the way you look at it.

    Personally I believe in the existence of GOD, and I’ve known people who are well educated and not by a chance unintelligent who also believe in GOD. It’s not like believing in GOD = ignorance, or the other way around.

    Like some of the commentators say probably the best thing is to not let indoctrination guide you to faith, while studies, reading and learning should be the way of understanding and accepting the existence of a greater being.

    IMHO…

  15. Like Jake said before: first of all: define "God". If you would describe God the traditional way – i.e. as an omnipotent, transcendental being that created the world we live in, monitors and judges every action and will reward you with heaven or punish you with perpetual agony after your death – then yes, I'm an atheist and I can certainly understand why most "intelligent" (describe intelligent…) people would reject that traditional idea of God.

    To me, the idea of God is just plain ridiculous, from a rational viewpoint. It's an ingenious (because you can't prove nor disprove it) invention of mankind, for the purposes of 1) filling voids of knowledge and 2) controlling the masses (as Nietzsche said, it's a manifistation of our "will to power": the weak invented this "Jenseits" to control the strong). IMHO of course.

    That doesn't mean we should completely rule out the idea, obviously. That wouldn't be very scientific and rational either. I'm just saying I can't see any reason to actively believe in God: it seems like a waste of time, since we'll never know the truth (unless you really believe in afterlife)…

  16. Like Jake said before: first of all: define “God”. If you would describe God the traditional way – i.e. as an omnipotent, transcendental being that created the world we live in, monitors and judges every action and will reward you with heaven or punish you with perpetual agony after your death – then yes, I’m an atheist and I can certainly understand why most “intelligent” (describe intelligent…) people would reject that traditional idea of God.

    To me, the idea of God is just plain ridiculous, from a rational viewpoint. It’s an ingenious (because you can’t prove nor disprove it) invention of mankind, for the purposes of 1) filling voids of knowledge and 2) controlling the masses (as Nietzsche said, it’s a manifistation of our “will to power”: the weak invented this “Jenseits” to control the strong). IMHO of course.

    That doesn’t mean we should completely rule out the idea, obviously. That wouldn’t be very scientific and rational either. I’m just saying I can’t see any reason to actively believe in God: it seems like a waste of time, since we’ll never know the truth (unless you really believe in afterlife)…

  17. Study says…intelligent people more likely to be elitist and condescending…that doesn't make them right.

    So what?

  18. Study says…intelligent people more likely to be elitist and condescending…that doesn’t make them right.

    So what?

  19. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS"; 1 Corinthians 3:19

  20. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; 1 Corinthians 3:19

  21. Well……… If my belief in God makes me appear a little less intelligent to some people oh well. Personally I think you have to be a little on the "less intelligent" side to spend money on to conduct a study like this. Why not take the money spent on a basically useless study that doesn't impact humanity one bit and go to the local soup kitchen and make a donation.

    My opinion…… Eric

  22. Well……… If my belief in God makes me appear a little less intelligent to some people oh well. Personally I think you have to be a little on the “less intelligent” side to spend money on to conduct a study like this. Why not take the money spent on a basically useless study that doesn’t impact humanity one bit and go to the local soup kitchen and make a donation.

    My opinion…… Eric

  23. I just want to point at this:
    http://booksthatmakeyoudumb.virgil.gr/

    He took the top 10 favorite books from each school on Facebook and then mapped them against the schools' average SAT scores. The results?

    "The Holy Bible" is 50 points below "I don't read" which is 50 points below "The Bible". It seems whether or not one chooses to emphasize the religious aspect has an impact.

    Yes, I know what Virgil did doesn't count as a proper scientific study. It's more of a "huh…wouldja look at that…"

  24. I just want to point at this:
    http://booksthatmakeyoudumb.virgil.gr/

    He took the top 10 favorite books from each school on Facebook and then mapped them against the schools' average SAT scores. The results?

    "The Holy Bible" is 50 points below "I don't read" which is 50 points below "The Bible". It seems whether or not one chooses to emphasize the religious aspect has an impact.

    Yes, I know what Virgil did doesn't count as a proper scientific study. It's more of a "huh…wouldja look at that…"

  25. Comment by ericd
    Well……… If my belief in God makes me appear a little less intelligent to some people oh well.

    It’s not your belief in God that makes you seem less intelligent. The study says that people who have high i.q.’s are more likely to not believe in god. I think if the study was reformed, you would find that more intelligent people would say that they do not know whether or not there is a god or who god might be. The issue non-religious people really have, is that our laws are modeled from the bible. Asking a religious family member why she even cared that gays were getting married, she replied,”because god wants us to live a moral life”. Now, no matter how hard I tried to explain it, she couldn’t see how this should be none of her damn business. Is it ok for her to smoke cigarettes and say it’s wrong for gays to get married. Both are sins according to what I was taught in my church. Another thing is evolution. Even though she knows very little about evolution, she denies it. There is a wealth of evidence that really makes evolution more than just a theory. The bible, is less than a theory. We can test certain things like whether some of the characters existed, but we can’t test whether or not god was making these miraculous things happen. We can however, prove that things mutate and pass these traits to their offspring. We can also prove that species who mutate too much from their ancestors cannot mate with each other any longer, making them a different species. It’s hard to believe things we have proof for, but defend to end things we cannot prove and even force these morals on others. This is where religious people are viewed as a lesser intelligence. Most non-religious people don’t argue against your belief in god, just your intolerance of others non-beliefs. Now, most of you say that’s not me. If you vote for a politician based on his religious stances, then that probably is you. I’m not bashing the people of religion, but the institution itself. I also believe that there are very intelligent religious people out there, but most the smarter people seem to believe less. Bill Maher’s movie “Religulous”, explains how it’s the certainty that religious people have. That’s ok, it doesn’t affect me. When a law is passed that can only be considered immoral if you look in the bible, it does affect me. Then I start to draw a line in the sand. Certain family members, I won’t talk politics with. My disbelief in The Bible, gives me a certain set of my own morals. One of the most immoral things I can think of is being a hypocrite. Every religious person I know seems to be this, even if they don’t realize it. I don’t believe in their religion and see them nit-picking sins. Like, it’s ok if I drink this wine, but not ok if you smoke pot. As far as spending the money on something better, I think it was great. The religious people now know that you shouldn’t send your kid to college. I have to agree with this. The more I learned, the less I believed.

  26. Comment by ericd

    Well……… If my belief in God makes me appear a little less intelligent to some people oh well.

    It's not your belief in God that makes you seem less intelligent. The study says that people who have high i.q.'s are more likely to not believe in god. I think if the study was reformed, you would find that more intelligent people would say that they do not know whether or not there is a god or who god might be. The issue non-religious people really have, is that our laws are modeled from the bible. Asking a religious family member why she even cared that gays were getting married, she replied,"because god wants us to live a moral life". Now, no matter how hard I tried to explain it, she couldn't see how this should be none of her damn business. Is it ok for her to smoke cigarettes and say it's wrong for gays to get married. Both are sins according to what I was taught in my church. Another thing is evolution. Even though she knows very little about evolution, she denies it. There is a wealth of evidence that really makes evolution more than just a theory. The bible, is less than a theory. We can test certain things like whether some of the characters existed, but we can't test whether or not god was making these miraculous things happen. We can however, prove that things mutate and pass these traits to their offspring. We can also prove that species who mutate too much from their ancestors cannot mate with each other any longer, making them a different species. It's hard to believe things we have proof for, but defend to end things we cannot prove and even force these morals on others. This is where religious people are viewed as a lesser intelligence. Most non-religious people don't argue against your belief in god, just your intolerance of others non-beliefs. Now, most of you say that's not me. If you vote for a politician based on his religious stances, then that probably is you. I'm not bashing the people of religion, but the institution itself. I also believe that there are very intelligent religious people out there, but most the smarter people seem to believe less. Bill Maher's movie "Religulous", explains how it's the certainty that religious people have. That's ok, it doesn't affect me. When a law is passed that can only be considered immoral if you look in the bible, it does affect me. Then I start to draw a line in the sand. Certain family members, I won't talk politics with. My disbelief in The Bible, gives me a certain set of my own morals. One of the most immoral things I can think of is being a hypocrite. Every religious person I know seems to be this, even if they don't realize it. I don't believe in their religion and see them nit-picking sins. Like, it's ok if I drink this wine, but not ok if you smoke pot. As far as spending the money on something better, I think it was great. The religious people now know that you shouldn't send your kid to college. I have to agree with this. The more I learned, the less I believed.

  27. After reading most of the posts about this topic, it got me thinking on a slightly different level. Let me explain.

    (Lets just beg a few questions here) If you were God…the God…god…or The Creator, would you reveal yourself to your creations? To me that idea seems pretty idiotic. It would mostly undo the reason for our creation at all, which as far as i can tell so far is to have children and be kind to each other. Were God to reveal himself in an actual tangible form, or something similar we would cease progressing as a race, and all of our energies would be spent praising and doing God's will.(not that we dont nec. do that now, but right now its a "choice", i doubt it would be as such if there was an physical manifestation of God) So in a way i guess religion is holding back humans from a boundary. Maybe, just maybe….thats God's job

  28. After reading most of the posts about this topic, it got me thinking on a slightly different level. Let me explain.
    (Lets just beg a few questions here) If you were God…the God…god…or The Creator, would you reveal yourself to your creations? To me that idea seems pretty idiotic. It would mostly undo the reason for our creation at all, which as far as i can tell so far is to have children and be kind to each other. Were God to reveal himself in an actual tangible form, or something similar we would cease progressing as a race, and all of our energies would be spent praising and doing God’s will.(not that we dont nec. do that now, but right now its a “choice”, i doubt it would be as such if there was an physical manifestation of God) So in a way i guess religion is holding back humans from a boundary. Maybe, just maybe….thats God’s job

  29. The recent Pew survey of religion in America showed that, on average, women are more religious than men. I wonder if Professor Richard Lynn would be comfortable with the obvious implications of his "research," that women are therefore, on average, stupider than men. And, if that's true, why was it Professor Lynn, a man, that came up with such a stupid research project?

  30. The recent Pew survey of religion in America showed that, on average, women are more religious than men. I wonder if Professor Richard Lynn would be comfortable with the obvious implications of his “research,” that women are therefore, on average, stupider than men. And, if that’s true, why was it Professor Lynn, a man, that came up with such a stupid research project?

  31. OK, So, according to Professor Richard Lynn, Einstein (with an IQ of 140) is not intelligent at all because he was a strong believer in God and his statement “God does not play dice with this world” is very famous !
    Hmm..Since when has believing in God got anything to do with intelligence or even education for that matter ? In India and other Asian countries, there are many illiterate people who mostly believe in God.
    Richard Lynn, now it is time for your next study to prove that illiterate people are not intelligent ! GGRRRRR !

  32. OK, So, according to Professor Richard Lynn, Einstein (with an IQ of 140) is not intelligent at all because he was a strong believer in God and his statement "God does not play dice with this world" is very famous !

    Hmm..Since when has believing in God got anything to do with intelligence or even education for that matter ? In India and other Asian countries, there are many illiterate people who mostly believe in God.

    Richard Lynn, now it is time for your next study to prove that illiterate people are not intelligent ! GGRRRRR !

  33. people are getting smarter and the more they understand how the universe works the less they will need a security blanket to hang on to,,I myself hate religion because more people have been killed in the name of their gods than any other thing in the world…except mass extinctions of course…