Does Belief in God Make You Smarter? (Part 1 of 2)

Here’s a recent study that you probably won’t find widely discussed by the media.

It would offend too many people:

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.

[Source: “Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, study finds,” 8/12/13]

According to the study, intelligent people are more likely to be married, and more likely to be successful in life — and this may mean they “need” religion less, according to one interpretation of the findings.

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.”

If you view intelligence as a combination of biological/genetic predisposition, as well as something one develops over time, these findings are not surprising.

If you don’t believe in God, or minimize the importance of God, then your mind has to go somewhere. Inevitably, it will turn to things of this earth, i.e., life.

Some religious people would have you believe that godlessness inevitably leads to range-of-the-moment impulse worship, such as drug abuse, reckless spending, reckless gambling, and the like.

In actuality, without the safety net of a supernatural force watching over you, a person is more likely to turn to one’s self-responsible, thinking mind.

Science, common sense and logic must take the place of turning over one’s fate to the hands of an almighty and all-loving mystical force. Without religion, there’s nowhere else to go.

If you go through life expecting yourself to understand, know and control as much as you possibly can, then it stands to reason that you will develop your intelligence to the fullest extent that you can. Some religious people do this, at least some of the time, but a non-religious person will have to do so, by definition.

Concluded in tomorrow’s column.

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