Why are religious people less intelligent?
I find this very interesting: statistically speaking, intelligent* people tend to be less religious and religious people less intelligent. Several studies have found a negative correlation between IQ and religious belief.
Now, why is that? Are people with a lower IQ more prone to become religious? If your view of the world is slightly dimmer than the average persons, it would perhaps make sense to be drawn towards believing in deities – someone or something to explain all the stuff that’s going on. And if that’s true, how about the flip side? Would more intelligent people be more likely to ’see through’ religious beliefs, and turn to science for explanations? Perhaps, although I doubt it’s the only explanation.
Or is it an educational thing? Highly educated people have, more often than not, a higher IQ than people with lower or no education. So are religious people less likely to pursue a higher education? And would that explain the statistics? There are indeed fewer religious people in academic circles than in the rest of the population. So, if a country has a higher proportion of academics, they would have a higher percentage of non-believers. Again, this could be part of the explanation.
To further complicate the matter, we need to consider that IQ is only one measure of intelligence. There might be several types of intelligence (visual, verbal, logical, musical etc), and there are some studies that hint at a positive link between emotional intelligence and religiosity.
My personal view is that we’re all inherently religious (all known human societies are highly religious, after all), but as our understanding of the world grows we are given the opportunity to ‘ascend’ beyond religious beliefs. Religion, in my eyes, is just a substitute for when in our childhood our parents were ‘gods’ who knew everything and could deal with any problem. As we grew up and realised this was not the case, we felt a longing for someone or something to take over that comforting role. This would also explain why some believe in a loving and caring god, whilst others believe in a strict and punishing one. The gods of our religions are our substitute parents, and we’d choose to believe in one that represents our own parents as closely as possible. Or, if you’re smart, not to believe in them.
* Intelligence is represented in this post by the measure of the intelligence quotient (IQ)