Guess Who Doesn't Believe in God?

People who have high IQs are less likely to believe in God than people of average and below average intelligence, according to Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ireland's University of Ulster.

Lynn claims that the general decline in religious observance over the last century is directly related to a rise in average intelligence. The smarter we are the more likely we are to shun religious services? Not so fast. Lynn's critics charge that his analysis is simplistic.

London's Telegraph reports that Lynn has previously provoked controversy with his research that links intelligence to race and gender. Now he's taking on God. Lynn insists that of all the population, university academics are the least likely group to believe in God. He bases this conclusion on a survey of The Royal Society, a learned society for science that serves as the academy of sciences in the United Kingdom, in which he found that only 3.3 percent believed in God, compared with 68.5 percent of the general population of the U.K. In the 1990s, a poll of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States found that only 7 percent of its members believed in God, while a 2008 Harris Poll found that 82 percent of the general U.S. population believes.

"Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ," Lynn told the Times Higher Education magazine. "Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God."

And it's not just highly educated adults. Lynn says most children in elementary school believe in God, but as they grow into adolescence and their intelligence increases, many begin to have doubts. As the populations of 137 developed nations have become more intelligent in the past century, their religious beliefs have declined, he insists.

A dangerous trend: "Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterization of religion as primitive, which--while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism--is perhaps not the most helpful response," Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College, London, told the Telegraph.

Still, Dr. David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, acknowledged to the Telegraph, "It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability--or perhaps willingness--to question and overturn strongly felt institutions." Including the church.

The study findings have been published in the journal Intelligence.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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