It is commonly assumed that religious people are less intelligent than those
who who aren't religious. Many skeptics think that Christianity and other
religions are for people who do not want to think - but will blindly follow what
they are told by their church. While it is true that those who have advanced
degrees tend to be more atheistic than those who don't, does this correlate with
intelligence or just self-sufficiency? Let's look at the data that is purported
to show a negative correlation between IQ and religiosity.
Importance of religion vs. IQ
few years ago, some bored researchers decided to plot the importance of religion
in people's lives
vs. IQ from several countries throughout the world.1
The results are quite impressive (See figure to right), with a correlation
coefficient of nearly 0.9 (1.0 is perfect). So, this proves that dumb people are
attracted to religions, right?
What about GDP vs. IQ?
if you look at the raw data, some of the countries are quite wealthy, while
others are quite poor. Obviously, in those countries that are poor, there is
little chance for higher education, and IQ scores are bound to suffer as a
result. So, I looked up the gross domestic product per capita (GDP) on the
CIA's World Factbook website,2 and plotted
those values compared to IQ. These results are likewise quite impressive (r
= 0.7). So, the results show that people from poor countries don't score
well on IQ tests. So, the question is whether being stupid causes people to
be religious or whether just being poor causes people to be religious? Maybe
even other factors might influence the prevalence of religion in different
countries throughout the world.
animated figure to the right shows the correlation of religion vs. IQ along
side the correlation of GDP per capita vs. IQ.3
Since the slopes of the two curves are virtually identical, one would be
hard pressed to claim that one factor or another was actually responsible
for the prevalence of religion around the world. By the way, there is an
outlier country in all this - the United States. People from the U.S. rate
religion as being very important, although they have one of the highest
IQ's. However, they also have the highest GDP per capita, which seems to be
a more significant factor influencing IQ than religious involvement. In
general, one could speculate that those who have a full belly would be less
likely to consider their need for God. Why does the United States buck that
trend, even though it was founded with a secular form of government? That's
- Lower IQs Lead to Faith in God?
- Why are Christians So Stupid? - Does the Bible Teach Blind Faith?
- Doubt About God? How Jesus Responded to Doubt - When John the Baptist doubted Jesus, He gave him more evidence.
- Why are Most Scientists Atheists If There is Evidence for Belief in God? Is their unbelief due to their intelligence, knowledge and academic studies or other factors?
- Famous Scientists Who Believed in God
- Did Albert Einstein Believe in a Personal God?
- Science and Faith Associations - Yes, there are scientists today who believe in God
- Science and the Bible: Does the Bible Contradict Scientific Principles?
- People of Faith - Astronauts
- Scientists of the Christian Faith: A Presentation of the Pioneers, Practitioners and Supporters of Modern Science Compiled by W. R. Miller
- CHRISTIANITY AIDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE by Ben Clausen
- 131 Christians Everyone Should Know by Mark Galli (Editor), Ted Olsen (Editor)
- IQ Religiosity Redux and Religion vs IQ and IQ vs. Religiosity
- CIA - The World Factbook -- Field Listing - GDP - per capita (PPP) - last updated 2006.
- The original data can be found here ( 27 kb MS Excel file).
Last Modified March 20, 2007