Atheism Makes You More Intelligent: Research

Atheist scientists and the religious have been in conflict for so long. According to atheists, there is very limited proof of the Bible, a holy book followed by Christianity. From the Big Bang Theory and the seven-day creation story, both sides have debated on who's right and who's wrong. Science would yet again show its edge over religion as a new study concludes that atheism makes a person more intelligent..

According to Indy100, Miron Zuckerman, Judith A. Hall, and Jordan Silberman from the University of Rochester and Northeastern University conducted a meta-analysis of 63 studies that shows the correlation between intelligence and religiosity.

According to their research, there are three major factors why atheism makes for a more intelligent person.

"First, intelligent people are less likely to conform and, thus, are more likely to resist religious dogma. Second, intelligent people tend to adopt an analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking style, which has been shown to undermine religious beliefs. Third, several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence. Intelligent people may therefore have less need for religious beliefs and practices."
Professor Richard Dawkins Promotes His New Book 'Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist' [Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images]
Professor Richard Dawkins promotes his new book 'Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist.' [Image by Don Arnold/Getty Images]

The study also noted that the association of intelligence and religiosity is stronger amongst college students and weakest in teenagers and children.

Religiosity, in this case, is not bound on Christianity, but "the degree of involvement in some or all facets of religion."

There is no definite proof why non-religious adults became more intelligent, but age is a factor. Though the numbers are higher for university students, it was noted that atheism could be their expression of non-conformity.

University could be an eye-opening environment for most people. They get to see different cultures and personalities. This, in turn, results in becoming more flexible when it comes to new beliefs and ideals. At the university stage, "the self-exploration that typifies emerging adulthood and that is often observed in students" as "the separation from home and the exposure to a context that encourages questioning may allow intelligence to impact religious beliefs."

Christopher Hitchens [Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images]
Christopher Hitchens [Image by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images]

"Using analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking, more intelligent college students may be more likely to eschew religion. If atheism is disapproved of at home, higher intelligence may facilitate resistance to conformity pressure."
Zuckerman and his colleagues also noted that the simpler explanation is that an intelligent person "knows better" than to simply accept beliefs. There is a more scientific way of allowing dogma into their system instead of believing a religion without proof.

Additionally, there is the factor of the model of cognitive style for intelligent people.

Analytic thinking is controlled, systematic, rule-based, and relatively slow; intuitive thinking, in contrast, is reflexive, heuristic-based, spontaneous, mostly nonconscious, and relatively fast. We propose that more intelligent people tend to think analytically and that analytic thinking leads to lower religiosity. There is empirical support for both these hypotheses.

However, the age factor can also change or sway beliefs. The study adds that the longer the life span, the more aware a human is for his own mortality. As a result, religion "can help manage the terror of one's impending death."

There is no evidence to connect intelligence and death anxiety, but the logic suggests religiosity might decline as the end of life nears.

However, humans are still psychologically predisposed to develop religious beliefs, according to the study. Though the data in the research did not cover the specificity of the religion type and culture, it has still shown that the collegiate level is where most atheists grow. The environment and the culture of independence and self-esteem fosters an individual at the university to have a distant overview on religion.

[Feature Image by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation]