Are atheists more intelligent than religious people? According to new research, the answer is yes. The recent research shows that atheism and religion have an impact on a person’s intelligence.
Richard E. Daws and Adam Hampshire of Imperial College London wanted to know how intelligence correlates with religion and atheism. They performed a series of intelligence tests, with large numbers of participants taking the tests. All the participants identified as either atheist, agnostic, or religious. This made it possible for the IQ test results to be compared between these three categories.
What they found, known as the “religiosity effect”, is that religious people score lower on IQ tests than atheists. These were the clear results: Those who identified with atheism had the highest IQ scores, those who identified with agnosticism had the middle IQ scores, and those who identified with religion had the lowest IQ scores. These results proved the same regardless of the age, education, and economic factors of the participants. The researchers stated, “It is well established that religiosity correlates inversely with intelligence.” The results of their study show their statement statistically.
But why do religious people score lower on IQ tests than non-religious people? Daws and Hampshire also wanted to understand the difference in IQ between the two groups. They understood that religious people tend toward trusting intuition more than non-religious people. Atheists and agnostics have been shown to trust logic, or reasoning, more than intuition. Based on this, they looked at questions in the test where there was some conflict between logic and intuition.
It was here that the researchers found the greatest difference between correct and incorrect answers. The tasks that placed reasoning and intuition at odds with one another were where religious people tended to choose intuitively. In other areas of the test, such as working memory tasks, the results between believers and non-believers were statistically closer.
These results show that there may not be a general difference in intelligence between atheists and religious people, but a difference in the way that certain tasks are completed. Where intuition and logic are opposed, religious people are more likely to chose intuition, while atheists and agnostics are more likely to chose logic. The researchers concluded that their studies support the hypothesis that the “religiosity effect” relates more to a conflict between reason and intuition than a general difference in reasoning or intelligence between religious and non-religious people.