The Correlation Between IQ and Atheism

Times Higher Education reports that there is a strong correlation between a high IQ and a lack of religious belief, according to Richard Lynn, the controversial psychologist.

In the past Lynn has performed research into what he believes is the existence of race and sex differences in intelligence, and has called for the “phasing out” of what he calls “incompetent cultures”. Controversial indeed!

Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but it’s interesting nonetheless and the article itself contains some interesting comments from noted academics.

via Mind Hacks



5 responses to “The Correlation Between IQ and Atheism”

  1. Samuel Skinner

    Well, it is obvious that there is a differance in the IQ scores- blacks score lower because they are poorer, foreigners score lower because they aren’t familiar with the questions, etc.

    However, in this case the link is so obvious it is almost not worth mentioning- it isn’t that atheism gets the smarter people, it is that atheism is positively linked with education- the more education, the more likely you are to be an unbeliever.

    So, switching to atheism won’t make you smarter (although it will make you more accurate)- going to college will make you more likely to be an atheist- this isn’t news by the way, church authorities have known this for centuries.

  2. Do blacks really score lower because they are poorer? Or due to actual biological difference? Foreigners because of unfamiliar questioning?

    I’m inclined to agree with the likes of Montagu and Graves who say that race is a purely social construct, therefore even applying this kind of correlation is useless. Selection bias might play a large part here, too.

    Regarding IQ and atheism: I totally agree with you. It’s inferred due to the correlations between IQ and higher education, and between higher education and atheism. Remembering all the while, of course, that correlation does not equal causation.

    Thanks for the comment – much appreciated.

  3. moises

    the more “educated” one is and the more big words he or she may know and the more degrees and diplomas hanging on his or her wall makes it more likely that the person is full of pride. the intellectuals, the intelligentsia, and the elite, yes the elite look down at the uneducated and simple people. But by looking down all the time one can not look up to see God. Pride the biggest of the seven sins.

  4. Moises, I direct you to another post on my site, How to Disagree. While you’re there, pay attention to DH0 and DH1.

    Next time you comment, please construct an argument based on more than empty ad hominem attacks.

    I have the following issues with your response:

    • Pride can be a virtue as well as a vice.
    • Educational ability does not imply pride, nor is it correlated.
    • To suggest that well-educated people ‘look down’ on the uneducated is quite a gross generalisation. What of the many intelligent people who dedicate their lives to helping those less fortunte?
  5. Meistro

    I realize this is quite a dated article in internet terms, but as it seems somebody else has commented recently I figured it wouldn’t be a total loss to get an opinion in here, even if it does agree with all of the already published ones… with the exception of Moises up there…

    I am currently in a high school AP Psychology course and was linked to this site while doing an assignment for our intelligence unit. I personally find this quite fascinating as I had actually never thought about a correlation (causation or otherwise) between intelligence/IQ and a religious preference.

    This type of research is what had me interested in psychology and particularly socio-psychology in the first place: that this kinda of study is being done relating to two of the most important aspects of the present human condition is just extremely interesting to me.

    I personally have no particular religious affiliation at this point in my life, but being raised as a Unitarian Universalist I have been well-educated on many creeds from around the world- each with their own specific beliefs about religion and specifically about whatever higher deity they deem as their “God.” I have never thought that this or any other education has consciously increased the likelihood that I would eventually not believe in a god, but I both agree and disagree with the statements provided by Mr. Skinner. (who is probably much older and more versed than I am)

    Perhaps it is not necessarily the education itself or even the measuredly higher intelligence that increases the likelihood of atheism… maybe it is merely a predisposition towards believing in *something* that all humans are inherently born with and which “kicks in” after years of higher education in science and history through a belief not in a god, but in the science itself?

    Maybe this is a stupid thing to comment about, I don’t really know. I guess I just wanted to share my opinion.