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Intelligent people are less likely to believe in God, claims researcher and academic Richard Lynn.  Professor Lynn is also quick to point out that academics are less likely to believe in God.

“Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. 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,” states Prof. Lynn.  (Times Higher Education Magazine)

Lynn points to the decline of religious observance over the last century and the rise in the overall Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as more proof that intelligence and religious observance don’t mix well.  The professor claims that religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

The journal Intelligence published Lynn’s study in 2008 where Lynn lists the country by average IQ and then by percent of citizens for believing in God.  (Look below for the country chart.)   However, if you analyze the data from the 137 countries, as Denyse O’Leary of Mercator.net did, you’ll find there is no consistent relationship between religion and IQ.

O’Leary gives her analysis:

I first became suspicious when Lynn et al. tried to explain why the United States is anomalous “in having an unusually low percentage of its population disbelieving in God (10.5 percent) for a high IQ country [98].”

Looking at the chart closely, I noticed another anomaly: The Czech Republic and Slovakia split on January 1, 1993. In 2008, the Czech republic clocked IQ 98, 61 percent disbelieving in God, and Slovakia at IQ 96, with only 17 percent disbelieving in God. The difference is obviously cultural.

[Then look at] Israel and Portugal -with very different culture and histories – both feature IQ 95. But in Israel 15 percent disbelieve and in Portugal 4 percent. So tripling or quadrupling the number of atheists did nothing for IQ when culture and history are different.

Perhaps. The reader may protest, after all, that these are individual cases. Very well, let’s be daring. Let’s drop from the list all nations where government either enforces or forbids religion or is known to be generally unrepresentative. Most such countries report lower average IQ. But the centralized thinking of authoritarian culture could well cause lower IQ.

So here’s the trimmed list, with countries listed by IQ – in alpha order when showings are equal. The only serious purpose of this list is to demonstrate that the case for “a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief” is nonsense.

Countries by IQ and percent not believing in God

  • Singapore 108 13
  • South Korea 106 30
  • Japan 105 65
  • Taiwan 105 24
  • Italy 102 6
  • Iceland 101 16
  • Switzerland 101 17
  • Austria 100 18
  • Netherlands 100 42
  • Norway 100 31
  • United Kingdom 100 41.5
  • Belgium 99 43
  • Canada 99 22
  • Estonia 99 49
  • Finland 99 28
  • Germany 99 42
  • New Zealand 99 22
  • Poland 99 3
  • Sweden 99 64
  • Australia 98 25
  • Czech Republic 98 61
  • Denmark 98 48
  • France 98 44
  • Hungary 98 32
  • Latvia 98 20
  • Spain 98 15
  • United States 98 10.5
  • Russia 97 27
  • Ukraine 97 20
  • Moldova 96 6
  • Slovakia 96 17
  • Slovenia 96 35
  • Israel 95 15
  • Portugal 95 4
  • Romania 94 4
  • Bulgaria 93 34
  • Ireland 92 5
  • Lithuania 91 13
  • Croatia 90 7
  • Mexico 88 4.5
  • Philippines 86 0.5
  • Trinidad and Tobago 85 9
  • Saudi Arabia 84 0.5
  • India 82 3
  • South Africa 72 1
  • Kenya 72 0.5
  • Jamaica 71 3

Note, for example, that four nations scored an even IQ 100. Arranged by level of atheism, they are:

  • Netherlands 100 42
  • United Kingdom 100 41.5
  • Norway 100 31
  • Austria 100 18

In other words, the level of atheism could range from 18 percent up to 42 percent, with the average IQ at 100. There is no consistent relationship between religion and IQ.

 

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