Atheists Are More Intelligent Than Religious People, Finds Study


Religious people are, on average, less intelligent than atheists, researchers claim.

With the number of people with a religious belief on the rise – it’s predicted that people with no faith will make up only 13 per cent of the global population by 2050 – numerous studies have explored the relationship between religious convictions and IQ.

And now, in a new paper published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers say that diminished intelligence among people of faith could be because they largely rely on intuition.

“It is well established that religiosity correlates inversely with intelligence,” note Richard Daws and Adam Hampshire at Imperial College London.

Surveying more than 63,000 participants online who indicated whether they were atheists, religious or agnostic, each person had to complete a 30-minute set of 12 cognitive tasks that measured planning, reasoning, attention and memory.

Overall, the research found that atheists performed better overall than the religious participants even when demographic factors like age and education were taken into consideration. Agnostics mostly placed between atheists and believers on all tasks.

While strength of religious conviction correlated with poorer cognitive performance, the data did show that there were only few small differences in working memory compared to tasks that required reasoning.

As such, rather than having poor general intelligence, the researchers say that religious people’s lower IQ test results may be a result of bad performance on tasks only where intuition and logic come into conflict.

In fact, one of the reasoning tasks which was a difficult version of the Stroop Task known as “colour-word remapping”, was designed to create maximum conflict between an intuitive response and a logical one.

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As predicted, this task showed the biggest group differences in keeping with the idea that religious people rely more on their intuition.

“These findings provide evidence in support of the hypothesis that the religiosity effect relates to conflict [between reasoning and intuition]as opposed to reasoning ability or intelligence more generally,” the researchers concluded.

A leading geneticist who believes that the immense capacity of the human brain to learn new tricks is under attack from an array of genetic mutations

Hunter-gatherer man The human brain and its immense capacity for knowledge evolved during this long period of prehistory when we battled against the elements

Athenian man The invention of agriculture less than 10,000 years ago and the subsequent rise of cities such as Athens relaxed the intensive natural selection of our “intelligence genes”

iPad man The fruits of science and technology enabled humans to rise above the constraints of nature and cushioned our fragile intellect from genetic mutations

Couch-potato man As genetic mutations increase over future generations, are we doomed to watching soap-opera repeats without knowing how to use the TV remote control?


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