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Study Draws Skepticism After Concluding Atheists 'More Intelligent' Than Their Religious Counterparts

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  • Reason Rally
    (Photo: The Christian Post)
    Atheists celebrate at the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., Saturday, March 24, 2012.
By Myles Collier, Christian Post Contributor
August 13, 2013|3:50 pm

A study that collected meta-data from 63 scientific studies dating back more than 80 years is coming under scrutiny after concluding that atheists tend to be more intelligent when compared to their religious counterparts.

Skepticism of the research stems from the narrow definitions used to define a person's intelligence in addition to the manner in which an individual's religious identity was used and incorporated in the review.

The study was conducted by Professor Miron Zuckerman of the University of Rochester, and found that there was a "reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity" when examining the meta-data in 53 out of the 63 studies that were conducted between 1928 and 2012. 10 of the studies examined showed a positive correlation between one's aptitude and religious identity.

The study, entitled, "The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations," was published in the "Personality and Social Psychology Review," and stated that during the early stages of a child's life the higher the individuals aptitude, the greater the chance in an increase in the likelihood that particular individual would not develop a strong religious identity.

The results of the study stated that such a development continued to produce a positive correlation into adulthood with those individuals being less likely to self-identify as religious in the later stages of life.

Those conducting the review of the 63 previous studies defined a person's intelligence as one's "ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience."

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There was, however, strong criticism of not just the conclusion brought forth by the study but also in the definitions used to define intelligence and specifically what constitutes a person's religious identity.

The study's use of intelligence only considered an analytic framework of intelligence and did not address the impact that other forms, such as creative and emotional intelligence, had on a person's overall aptitude in relation to an individual's religious identity. The study also narrowly defined a person's religious influence as one's involvement in part or all aspects of religious practice.

The study also noted that factors such as affluence, gender and educational experience did not seem to have any impact with regards to the correlation of one's intelligence and religious belief, which also led to skepticism of the review given the historical and cultural impact has on a person's religious beliefs and practice.

The review suggested that intelligence was tied to an individual's negation of religious identity and beliefs due to high association of those individuals and their development of ideas and actions surrounding personal control, but did not address the personal impact that faith and unexplained meta-physical occurrences has on shaping one's religious identity.

 

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