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Are Atheists Smarter Than Believers? New Massive Study Says …

atheists smarter

Are atheists smarter than their religious peers? The stereotype of the smug atheist is one with which both churchgoers and the non-religious alike are familiar, and, anecdotal evidence aside, many studies have addressed the relative intellect of both groups.

So many, in fact, that researchers at the University of Rochester seeking the answer to the question of whether atheists trend smarter than religious folk were able to cull more than 60 in a mega-study, examining the consistency of data on whether Jesus makes you dumber.

The answer? Ostensibly, but not for the reasons you might suspect.

Miron Zuckerman and his research team aimed to discover whether atheism and intellect were related in the meta-analysis, looking at decades’ worth of research in 63 scientific studies. What they found was that in 53 of the 63 studies, a “a reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity” was observed in participants.

Even among the very elderly, the more intelligent subjects were less likely to believe in any god or gods, and the large cache of data gave researchers a bit more insight into why that seems to be the case.

The study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Review, noted that many atheism and intellect studies “share one central theme—the premise that religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who ‘know better.’ ”

However, researchers came to a slightly deeper set of conclusions on why atheists may be “smarter” than their God-fearing counterparts. It seems that as intellect correlates with other traits relating to self-determination and follow through, beliefs may fall to the wayside as individuals exercise control over and map out their lives.

Researchers wrote:

“Intelligent people typically spend more time in school—a form of self-regulation that may yield long-term benefits… More intelligent people get higher level jobs [which] may lead to higher self-esteem, and encourage personal control beliefs… more intelligent people are more likely to get and stay married… though for intelligent people, that too comes later in life. We therefore suggest that as intelligent people move from young adulthood to adulthood and then to middle age, the benefits of intelligence may continue to accrue.”

The study on whether atheists are smarter also noted that poverty and other circumstances that involve less agency in one’s own life led to a greater instance of embrace of religion or deist beliefs.

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29 Responses to “Are Atheists Smarter Than Believers? New Massive Study Says …”

  1. Jullie Yeatman

    Your standards for intelligence are flawed. Setting aside archeological evidence such as dinosaur & human footprint fossils found in Plano, TX, that show the two lived at the same time. Or even the sudden catastrophe evidence for creation of canyons like the mini grand canyon, that scientists can't get printed in textbooks because it doesn't fit in with the evolution theory that everything took a long time to form. And whether you want to believe global warming or not, a creationist is going to turn to Genesis and point out that the world was once a paradise with no seasons. So no problem there. The atheist with no outside standard of an ultimate being has to rise above the masses by something they find important such as how to make money rather than a religious person's emphasis on how to make relationships work. Atheists are self-centric in their thinking and in their standards, rather than God-centered or community-centered as in most religions. I'm going to say there are two types of people in this world – the group I'm in is going to say, "Bless your heart for trying to build yourself up at others' expense. Now say something nice or say nothing at all" :)

  2. Shaun Epperson

    @Yeatman
    I think your post proves the point of this article. Intelligence is about discovering and accepting evidence that can be tested and proven. The fact that you would use such an ignorant example of your creationist fairytales as the dino/human footprint is laughable, a little sad, and exceptionally pathetic.

  3. Rusty Yates

    Intelligent people don't put up with religion much in my experience and ironically the religious trot out Psalm 14:1, the fool's verse, from the bible.

    The bible is just plain wrong – biblically wrong as in massively overwhelmingly wrong – in so many ways.

  4. Paula Coffey

    Julie, do you really believe any of the things you posted here, about fossil and scientific evidence that refute everything that we know about how life works, but which some group of scientists won't allow anyone to publish? Are we to believe that you've not seen or understood the refutations of these things that have been kicking around for as long as any of us have been alive? Just curious.

  5. Joey Carpenter

    Who needs a decades long study when all we need to do is read posts like that.

  6. Richard Coleman

    These studies are dumb themselves, in my opinion. They remind me of the white vs black intelligence studies of the 60s. What are we supposed to do with that information, and why waste time and money on gathering it?

  7. Max Kennedy

    Oh, and did you notice that the intelligence studies by race are being revived by the Tea Baggers–er, Tea Partiers???/ Still stupid….Maybe we should do a study on people who do these kinds of tests and those who believe in the moronic "evidence."

  8. Max Kennedy

    Oh, and did you notice that the intelligence studies by race are being revived by the Tea Baggers–er, Tea Partiers???/ Still stupid….Maybe we should do a study on people who do these kinds of tests and those who believe in the moronic "evidence."

  9. Ibn Cme

    knowledge without ethics and morals is sterile, once you remove religion from people then they will turn to economy.

  10. Ibn Cme

    knowledge without ethics and morals is sterile, once you remove religion from people then they will turn to economy.

  11. Ibn Cme

    Religion is about practice not about theory, you have to have more imagination that religion transcends mere letters. That is the problem with atheits they fall for the literal part, then you have two class of fundamentalists the religious taliban and the atheists.