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Q: Religion and IQ correspondance ( Answered,   13 Comments )
Subject: Religion and IQ correspondance
Category: Relationships and Society > Religion
Asked by: keithyb-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 02 Jun 2003 06:06 PDT
Expires: 02 Jul 2003 06:06 PDT
Question ID: 211920
Have there been any studys into the relation between people who follow
mainline religions (eg Christains, Musliums) and their IQ (or

I believe there have been studys in the past that have tried to
indicate that these people have lower IQs, but I have been unable to
find them - or any recent research.


Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
Answered By: willie-ga on 02 Jun 2003 06:28 PDT
Hello, and thanks for the question

The site at (
is a good review of several studies of IQ and religiosity, paraphrased
and summarized from Burnham Beckwith's article, "The Effect of
Intelligence on Religious Faith," Free Inquiry, Spring 1986:

It summarises as follows:
"The consensus here is clear: more intelligent people tend not to
believe in religion. And this observation is given added force when
you consider that the above studies span a broad range of time,
subjects and methodologies, and yet arrive at the same conclusion.

"This is the result even when the researchers are Christian
conservatives themselves. One such researcher is George Gallup. Here
are the results of a Fall 1995 Gallup poll:

Percentage of respondents who agreed with the following statements:

                     Religion is        Religion can
                     "very important    "answer all or most
Respondents          in their life"     of today's problems"
Attended college         53 percent         58 percent
No college               63                 65

A more recent poll, "The Gallup international Millenium survey" ( ) shows the same
negative correlation between education and religion, and also between
intelligence and religion. For college graduates, 52% are religious
and 25% are committed to church attendance, while the percentages are
70% and 33% for people who only completed primary school."

Hope that answers your question


Google searches used: 
Religion Intelligence survey
Religion IQ survey
religion gallup survey
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: filian-ga on 02 Jun 2003 07:59 PDT
I don't know how this fares but I'm Christian and my IQ was 143 when I
was 12. I've been Christian since day one:)

Another idea about religious thought and intelligence might be that
since acedemia is concertedly anti-conservative and had a foothold in
science (and pushes their definition of "science"), some people who
are "smart" may have chosen to abandon their religious faith because
of the "evidence" presented to them in school.

Scientific journals are now publishing interesting reports that link
healing to prayer in many cases and other such journeys into the world
of faith.

I wouldn't conclude that having a high IQ necessarily makes a person
smart (think about emotional intelligence as well which has gained a
lot of interest in the past 10 yrs.), or that the majority of all who
have a religious faith (whatever the faith is) are somehow less

Polls, studies and statistics are simply that -- polls and statistics.
They don't accurately take into account everyone in the world, in a
region, in a faith, because not everyone has the opportunity to be
polled--or has had an IQ test for that matter.
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: politicalguru-ga on 02 Jun 2003 09:04 PDT
Dear Keith, 

Other than Filian-Ga's anecdotal remark, I feel that I have to add
something. I am not a religious person, but I am a student of
religious studies, and must also cast doubt in the validity of a claim
that correlates intelligence with religiosity.

There are many reasons for a person to be religious or "secular". Some
might be cognitive and correlated with their intelligence. However,
there are many other theories of religiosity and secularisation, as
related to cultural and historical reasons, to materialist conditions,
as well as many other theories.

For example, it could be claimed, that if you grew up in a religious
family, you are of higher chances to be a religious adult yourself
than those of a person who grew up in a "secular" environment. You
could be intelligent or well educated, but still have better chances
to be religious than your peer, who grew up in non-religious settings.

The level of education or that of the achievements in IQ tests proved
to be highly correlated with social class and with cultural
indicators. Thus, it could be that there is no actual direct
connection between religiosity and intelligence, since the elements
that set the level of educational achievements are different than
those of religiosity. For example: A female immigrant from the Third
World is less likely (or has less opportunities) to attend college
than a white male from middle and upper middle class family.

Finally, echoing Filian's comment, methodology and approaches of
studies must always be questioned.
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: pinkfreud-ga on 02 Jun 2003 11:11 PDT
Here you'll find an interesting overview of studies on this subject:

I have been a member of Mensa for more than 25 years, and it is my
observation that religious faith is unusual in that organization.
While I doubt that Mensans are statistically representative of highly
intelligent people in general, it certainly seems that Mensans tend to
be skeptics rather than believers.

I am a devout Christian; where spiritual matters are concerned, I feel
like a fish out of water at most Mensa events.
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: math_man-ga on 02 Jun 2003 11:15 PDT

Can you explain why the columns in the table you included in your
answer add to over 100%?  It seems that the table has a flaw.  I can't
see how the total of those who attended college and those who did not
attend be greater than 100%.

Thanks for any clarification you can provide.

Math Man
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: leoj-ga on 02 Jun 2003 12:01 PDT

The numbers don't add to 100 because there is no reason for them to. 
For example, the upper left entry corresponds to the percentage of
those attending college who felt that religion is "very important in
my life".  The corresponding number would be 47% did not agree with
that statement.  Hope that helps...
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: mwalcoff-ga on 02 Jun 2003 16:41 PDT
If Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking can believe in God,
intelligence should not be a barrier to religious belief.
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: racecar-ga on 02 Jun 2003 18:07 PDT
What makes you think Stephen Hawking believes in God?
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: keithyb-ga on 03 Jun 2003 03:31 PDT
Excellent - an interesting and lively debate has been started.

Personally I've doubted the validity of this kind of research, but at
the same time, find it crazy that well educated, worldly and
intelligent people can fully adopt and immerse themselves in
religions, that while certainly in many regards provide a good moral
guide and support network, also have advocated war, genocide, slavery,
rape, massive sexism and homophobia and hence has been and still is
responsible for a (large?) amount of world wide suffering.

At the same time I can't make the quantum leap, that people this
educated and this aware, don't find it difficult that there are
thousands of Christian denominations to 'choose' from (along with
perhaps 13 Main stream religions - each with there own splits). What
kind of God or 'power' would build or allow a world with this many
religious divisions and differences - which regularly results in
massive conflicts. Personally to me this is an indication that the
possibility of a God is limited.

Personally I'd be pretty worried that if I made it (somehow!) to those
pearly gates, and St Peter said, - "gosh, sorry Keith, we actually
only allow 7th Day Adventists (or what ever) in - did they not tell

Either way I would be really interested in any ones opinion -
particularly those who have contributed and are religious, on how they
manage to follow one out of thousands of religious 'choices' and also
live with the statements (in the bible for example) that advocate
slavery, sexism, rape etc.


Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: jeremymiles-ga on 03 Jun 2003 06:10 PDT
What makes you think Einstein believed in God?  He used God as an
analogy "God does not play dice ..." but he made it clear that he was
a non-believer says:

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious
convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not
believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have
expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called
religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the
world so far as our science can reveal it."

Albert Einstein in 'Albert Einstein: The Human Side', edited by Helen
Dukas (Einstein's secretary) and Banesh Hoffman, and published by
Princeton University Press.
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: mwalcoff-ga on 03 Jun 2003 08:30 PDT
According to the page
(, Einstein did
embrace a personal God toward the end of his life.

Hawking discusses God in "A Brief History of Time."
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: racecar-ga on 03 Jun 2003 17:37 PDT
I read A Brief History of Time, and I don't think Hawking believes in
God as normally defined.  He does say that physics can't prove there
is no god, but that is different.  Check out this quote from

A Brief History of Time says a lot about God. God is mentioned in this
book from beginning to end. So let us try to put Hawking's opinions
about God in some sort of a context. The context is that Stephen
Hawking made up his mind about God long before he became a
The principle influence in his early life was his mother, Isabel.
Isabel Hawking was a member of the Communist Party in England in the
1930's, and her son has carried a good bit of that intellectual
baggage right through his life.

By the time he was 13, Hawking's hero was the atheist philosopher and
mathematician, Bertrand Russell. At the same age, two of Hawking's
friends became Christians as a result of the 1955 Billy Graham London
campaign. According to his 1992 biographers, Hawking stood apart from
these encounters with "a certain amused detachment." There is nothing
in A Brief History of Time that deviates in a significant way from the
religious views of the 13-year old Stephen Hawking.
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: pugwashjw-ga on 26 Jun 2003 01:55 PDT
The answer to your query is found in the Bible at Luke 18;17. "Truly I
say to you, whomever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a young
child will by no means get into it". The scripture infers that the
Kingdom of god is a place into which we can gain entrance. It is not
just Bible knowledge, nor is it just good behaviour. It is the
combination of all good traits. Matthew 22;37 says you must love God
first then love your neighbour as yourself. If we followed this basic
tenet, there would be no wars or any sort of strife. To be " like a
young child" means to be humble. There is very little of this quality
around these days and not too much from the intellectuals. Man can`t
even "direct his step". Jeremiah 10;23.
Subject: Re: Religion and IQ correspondance
From: googel-ga on 23 Jul 2003 02:56 PDT
mwalcoff-ga's comment above by which
According to the page
(, Einstein did
embrace a personal God toward the end of his life.
seems to remain a matter of belief according to that page.

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