Friday, 13 June 2008

A belief in in god[/gods] infers you are stupid??

So, I was home yesterday and had the chance to watch daytime TV. On "The Wright Stuff", they were discussing how a belief in God was almost absent from those of higher intelligence. There apparently had been reports of a study stating that 699 out of 700 nobel prize winners had no belief in god and, thus, that believing in god meant you were stupid. The topic originated from the following article:

Intelligence is a predictor of religious scepticism, a professor has argued.

Belief in God is much lower among academics than among the general population because scholars have higher IQs, a controversial academic claimed this week.

In a forthcoming paper for the journal Intelligence, Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, will argue that there is a strong correlation between high IQ and lack of religious belief and that average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 countries.

In the paper, Professor Lynn - who has previously caused controversy with research linking intelligence to race and sex - says evidence points to lower proportions of people holding religious beliefs among "intellectual elites".

The paper - which was co-written with John Harvey, who does not report a university affiliation, and Helmuth Nyborg, of the University of Aarhus, Denmark - cites studies including a 1990s survey that found that only 7 per cent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God. A survey of fellows of the Royal Society found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God at a time when a poll reported that 68.5 per cent of the general UK population were believers.

Professor Lynn told Times Higher Education: "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."

He said that most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence - and their intelligence increased - many began to have doubts and became agnostics.

He added that most Western countries had seen a decline of religious belief in the 20th century at the same time as their populations had become more intelligent.

Andy Wells, senior lecturer in psychology at the London School of Economics, said the existence of a correlation between IQ and religiosity did not mean there was a causal relationship between the two.

Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck, University of London, said that any examination of the decline of religious belief needed to take into account a wide and complex range of social, economic and historical factors.

He added: "Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation 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."

Alistair McFadyen, senior lecturer in Christian theology at the University of Leeds, said that Professor Lynn's arguments appeared to have "a slight tinge of intellectual elitism and Western cultural imperialism as well as an antireligious sentiment".

David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, said: "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 intuitions.

Source: Times Higher Education.

Now, I know the report relates to the xian god or a single god, but what about polytheists and/or pagans who believe in a higher energy/source/[insert appropriate name here]? Are we considered less intelligent again?

For my part, and given the (what I believe to be) genuine pagans with whom I have contact, I would dispute this. Many have degrees or are in the process of higher education and, from what I can see, also have high IQs. I know that I am in the top 10 percentile for intelligence, and I believe in more than one god.

Personally, I think belief is more dependent on how you were raised. If you grew up in a household where religion played a factor (regardless of it being xian or non-xian), you are more likely to continue on some spiritual practices, whereas if you were raised in a family where rational thought was more valued, you are less likely to explore the unexplainable, or anything that may require faith.

To my mind, Profess Lynn's argument is flawed as it does not explore the backgrounds of the nobel prize winners. What's more, I thought Rev. Desmond Tutu was a prize winner, so it he the only believer?

I wonder what the rest of the polytheist and/or pagan community might feel about this.

1 comment:

solsticedreamer said...

yes i agree with you here.
although my dad did not 'label' his beliefs at all, he was essentially a pagan and i was brought up roaming the forest and moors of the new forest and taken to every museum and sacred site within a days drive form where we were at the time. i was given books on archaeology and history from when i could read properly which was about age 5 and look how i turned out!
i am eternally grateful he allowed me to grow and develop the way i did.