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I hope that no one is angered by the contents of this web page.

In this compilation of texts we'll address the coorelation between the beliefs in the existance of deity constructs and the intelligence quotient of the believer. We'll also provide suitable references for further investigation into the subject.

I'll add that any negative connotations or remarks which I've ecountered during the compilation of relevant text has been discarded out-of-hand and I've only retained text which maintains some level of professional decorum. Since the truth might easilly anger the theists who might run across this web page, I would not deliberately increase their anger by including unkind remarks and references.


Paraphrased and summarized from The Effect of Intelligence on Religious Faith, Burnham P. Beckwith, Free Inquiry, Spring 1986:

1. Thomas Howells, 1927
Study of 461 students showed religiously conversative students "are, in general, relatively inferior in intellectual ability."

2. Hilding Carlsojn, 1933
Study of 215 students showed that "there is a tendency for the more intelligent undergraduate to be sympathetic toward ... atheism."

3. Abraham Franzblau, 1934
Confirming Howells and Carlson, tested 354 Jewish children, 10-16. Negative correlation between religiosity and Terman intelligence test.

4. Thomas Symington, 1935
Tested 400 young people in colleges and church groups. He reported, "there is a constant positive relation in all the groups between liberal religious thinking and mental ability...There is also a constant positive relation between liberal scores and intelligence..."

5. Vernon Jones, 1938
Tested 381 stydents, concluding "a slight tendency for intelligence and liberal attitudes to go together."

6. A. R. Gilliland, 1940
At variance with all other studies, found "little or no relationship between intelligence and attitude toward god."

7. Donald Gragg, 1942
Reported an inverse correlation between 100 ACE freshman test scores and Thurstone "reality of god" scores.

8. Brown and Love, 1951
At U. of Denver, tested 613 male and female students. Mean test scores of non-believers = 119, believers = 100. Percentile NBs = 80, BBs = 50. Their findings "strongly corroborate those of Howells."

9. Michael Argyle, 1958
Concluded that "although intelligent children grasp religious concepts earlier, they are also the first to doubt the truth of religion, and intelligent students are much less likely to accept orthodox beliefs."

10. Jeffrey Hadden, 1963
Found no correlation between intelligence and grades. This was an anomalous finding, since GPA corresponds closely with intelligence. Other factors may have influenced the results at the U. of Wisconsin.

11. Young, Dustin and Holtzman, 1966
Average religiosity decreased as GPA rose.

12. James Trent, 1967
Polled 1400 college seniors. Found little difference, but high-ability students in his sample group were over-represented.

13. C. Plant and E. Minium, 1967
The more intelligent students were less religious, both before entering college and after 2 years of college.

14. Robert Wuthnow, 1978
Of 532 students, 37% of christians, 58% of apostates, and 53 percent of non-religious scored above average on SATs.

15. Hastings and Hoge, 1967, 1974
Polled 200 college students and found no significant correlations.

16. Norman Poythress, 1975
Mean SATs for strongly antireligious (1148), moderately anti-religious (1119), slightly antireligious (1108), and religious (1022).

17. Wiebe and Fleck, 1980
Studied 158 male and female Canadian university students. The reported "nonreligious S's tended to be strongly intelligent" and "more intelligent than religious S's.

Student Body Comparisons-

1. Rose Goldsen, Student belief in a divine god, percentages 1952.
Harvard 30; UCLA 32; Dartmouth 35; Yale 36; Cornell 42; Wayne 43; Weslyan 43; Michigan 45; Fisk 60; Texas 62; N. Carolina 68.

2. National Review Study, 1970 Students Belief in Spirit or Divine
God. Percentages: Reed 15; Brandeis 25; Sarah Lawrence 28; Williams 36; Stanford 41; Boston U. 41; Yale 42; Howard 47; Indiana 57; Davidson 59; S. Carolina 65; Marquette 77.

3. Caplovitz and Sherrow, 1977
Apostasy rates rose continuously from 5% in "low" ranked schools to 17% in "high" ranked schools.

Niemi, Ross, and Alexander, 1978
In elite schools, organized religion was judged important by only 26%, compared with 44% of all students.

Studies of Very-High-IQ groups.

1. Terman, 1959
Studied group with IQ > 140. Of men, 10% held strong religious belief, of women 18%. 62% of men and 57% if women claimed "little religious inclination" while 28% men and 23% of women claimed it was "not at all important."

2. Warren and Heist, 1960
Found no differences among National Merit Scholars. Results may have been affected by the fact that NM scholars are not selected on the basis of intelligence or grades alone, but also on "leadership" and such like.

3. Southern and Plant, 1968
42 male and 30 female members of Mensa. Mensa members were much less religious in belief than the typical American college alumnus or adult.

1. William S. Ament, 1927
C. C. Little, president U. of Michigan, checked persons listed in Who's Who in America: "Unitarians, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Universalists, and Presbyterians are ... far more numerous in Who's Who than would be expercted on the basis of the population which they form. Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics are distinctly less numberous."

Ament confirmed Little's conclusion. He noted that Unitarians, the least religious, were more than 40 times as numerous in Who's Who as in the U.S. population.

2. Lehman and Witty, 1931
Identified 1189 scientists found in both _Who's Who_ (1927) and American Men of Science (1927). Only 25% in AM of S and 50% of those listed in Who's Who reported their religious denomination despite the specific requests to do so, "religious denomination (if any)." Well over 90% of the general population claims religious affiliation. The figure of 25% suggest far less religiosity among scientists.

Unitarians were 81.4 times as numerous among eminent scientists as non-Unitarians.

3. Kelley and Fisk, 1951
Found a negative (-.39) correlation between the strength of religious values and research competence. [How these were measured I have no idea.]

4. Ann Roe, 1953
Interviewed 64 "eminent scientists, nearly all members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences or the American Philosophical Society. She reported that, while nearly all of them had religious parents and had attended Sunday school, 'now only three of these men are seriously active in church. A few others attend upon occasion, or even give some financial support to a church which they do not attend... All the otheres have long since dismissed religion as any guide to them, and the church plays no part in their lives...A few are militantly atheistic, but most are just not interested.'"

5. Francis Bello, 1954
Questionnaired or interviewed 107 young (<= 40) nonindustrial scientists judged by senior colleagues to be outstanding. 87 responded. 45% claimed to be "agnostic or atheistic" and an additional 22% claimed no religious affiliation. For 20 most eminent, "the proportion who are now a-religious is considerably higher than in the entire survey group."

6. Jack Chambers, 1964
Questionnaired 740 US psychologists and chemists. He reported, "the highly creative men [jft- assume no women included] ... significantly more often show either no preference for a particular religion or little or no interest in religion." Found that the most eminent psychologists showed 40% no preference, 16% for the most eminent chemists.

7. Vaughan, Smith, and Sjoberg, 1965
Polled 850 US physicists, zoologists, chemical engineers, and geologists listed in American Men of Science_(1955) on church membership, and attendance patterns, and belief in afterlife. 642 replies.

38.5% did not believe in afterlife, 31.8% did. Belief in immortality was less common among major university staff than among those employed by business, government, or minor universities. The contemporaneous Gallup poll showed 2/3 of US population believed in afterlife, so scientists were far less religious than typical adult.

From Beckwith's concluding remarks:

Conclusions
In this essay I have reviewed: (1)sixteen studies of the correlation between individual measures of student intelligence and religiosity, all but three of which reported an inverse correlation. (2) five studies reporting that student bodies with high average IQ and/or SAT scores are much less religious than inferior student bodies; (3) three studies reporting that geniuses (IQ 150+) are much less religious than the general public (Average IQ, 100), and one dubious study, (4) seven studies reporting that highly successful persons are much less religious in belief than are others; and (5) eight old and four new Gallup polls revealing that college alumni (average IQ about 115) are much less religious in belief than are grade-school pollees.

I have also noted that many studies have shown that students become less religious as they proceed through college, probably in part because average IQ rises.

All but four of the forty-three polls I have reviewed support the conclusion that native intelligence varies inversely with degree of religious faith; i.e., that, other factors being equal, the more intelligent a person is, the less religious he is. It is easy to find fault with the studies I have reviewed, for all were imperfect. But the fact that all but four of them supported the general conclusion provides overwhelming evidence that, among American students and adults, the amount of religious faith tends to vary inversely and appreciably with intelligence.

There are no entirely satisfactory measures of intelligence, nor even satisfactory definitions of what is to be measured. Intelligence seems be something, though, and every tack we take in trying to catch the elusive winds of thought carries us further toward workable definitions. Is intelligence a good memory, the ability to sculpt, make a diving catch in center field, play blindfold chess, construct sentences of "learned length and thundering sound", or time a punchline?

SAT tests, IQ tests, success in life, measures of fame and esteem in peer groups all fail to give that satisfying, final readout of how smart or stupid any given person is. The evidence we have indicates that the more we know about the real world, the less likely we are to believe in an imaginary one.

Someone else also added the following comment:

I would like to add a few opinions of my own concerning intelligence.

I doubt that innate intelligence varies much among individuals at birth. One has wetware that either works or is defective in some way (mental retardation). We see in various guises the effect of training on IQ, e.g., teaching 6th grade students the game of WFF 'n Proof raises measurements of mathematical thinking almost a full standard deviation from the initial measurement.

Intelligence seems to be learned (by most of the numerous studies I have seen), and, prior to the concrete that sets in during the early 20s, can be improved quite a lot. The earlier the process begins, the higher the resultant IQ. I cannot remember them specifically, but I have read studies which showed a disproportionate number of superior/genius among children who's parents raised them with purposeful efforts to increase their ability to think and solve problems.

The most famous case would be that of John Stuart Mill, who's father read to him constantly from the time he was born, constantly teaching him, day and night and in the child's sleep, even. John S. Mill could read Greek at the age of 4, and remains the highest scoring writer on syntactic analysis of sentence structure/vocabulary versus IQ.

In sum, the fatalistic concept that we are born with some preordained intelligence level seems ill-founded. That it ceases to increase after adulthood is part of the maturation process that freezes our brains into a cognitive concrete before the age of 30. IMHO, if one has not become "intelligent" before 20, nothing will help.

Are there highly intelligent Xians? Most certainly, but they do not apply their reasoning to religion. Perhaps the best hypotheses to explain the phenomenon of the intelligent professing deep religiosity are


Date: Fri 2 Sep 94 10:12

Don Geser:
DG> "Teenage girls who score highly on intelligence tests are
DG> less likely than others their age to be sexually active,"
DG> reports the Wall Street Journal.

David Rice:
Teenage students who score highest on intelligence tests are less likely than others their age to be religiously active, reports:

Hadden, Jeffrey K. "Religion in Radical Transition." New York: Transaction, Inc., 1971.

Hardon, John A. "Christianity in the Twentieth Century." Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1971.

Jeeves, Malcolm A. "Psychology and Christianity; the View Both Ways." Downer's Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press, 1976.

Mead, Margaret. "Culture and Commitment." New York: Doubleday Anchor Press, 1979.

Ross, Murray. "Religious Beliefs of Youth." New York: Association Press, 1950.

Ann Roe, 1953, Interviewed 64 "eminent scientists, nearly all members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences or the American Philosophical Society. She reported that, while nearly all of them had religious parents and had attended Sunday school, 'now only three of these men are seriously active in church. A few others attend upon occasion, or even give some financial support to a church which they do not attend... All the otheres have long since dismissed religion as any guide to them, and the church plays no part in their lives... A few are 'militantly atheistic,' but most are just not interested.'"

Terman, 1959, Studied group with IQ > 140. Of men, 10% held strong religious belief, of women 18%. 62% of men and 57% if women claimed "little religious inclination" while 28% men and 23% of women claimed it was "not at all important."

Southern and Plant, 1968, 42 male and 30 female members of Mensa. Mensa members were much less religious in belief than the typical American college alumnis or adult.

Francis Bello, 1954, Questionaired or interviewed 107 young (<= 40) nonindustrial scientists judged by senior colleagues to be outstanding. 87 responded. 45% claimed to be "agnostic or atheistic" and an additional 22% claimed no religious affiliation. For 20 most eminent, "the proportion who are now a-religious is considerably higher than in the entire survey group."

Norman Poythress, 1975, Mean SATs for strongly antireligious (1148), moderately anti- religious (1119), slightly antireligious (1108), and religious (1022).

Wiebe and Fleck, 1980, Studied 158 male and female Canadian university students. The reported "nonreligious students tended to be strongly intelligent and more intelligent than religious students."

There are many more studies: ask if you want to see their references.


Okay, here's the report we did on youth and religion. Before you read it, you should know a few things:

I found the raw data, but it is currently in AppleWorks DB format. I don't have access to anything which will put it in a vanilla text file -- if anyone does, please let me know, and I'll send it to you.

I have the questonairre, but when I looked at it, I remembered that we didn't give that one out. It was manually typed out on a typewriter, but asked most of the same questions (the essay question was a bit different). I'll talk to my friend (who is now at Franklin and Marshall) about it when he comes down here on Friday.

Ed

[begin here...]

Austin Fairfield/Ed Watkeys
Gifted Resource 1.2
Mr. Arnholt/Dr. Myers
May 7, 1990

Youth and Religion in 1990

In a study of three hundred and fifty-four students attending North Penn High School, a questionnaire was administered to ascertain the religious beliefs of the student body. These questions will be addressed in the following paragraphs:

It was hypothesized that religious indifference would be prevalent in members of all faiths. Personal experience of the authors suggests that the pressures of living in the modern world would make it difficult to sustain a strong faith. This society, with its emphasis on conformity and materialism, would tend to create shallow and superficial personalities. Today's adolescents were thought incapable of entertaining deep beliefs, religious or otherwise.

* * *

Of the students questioned, twelve had stronger religious feelings than their mother, and thirty-five had stronger feelings than their father. There were sixteen who had stronger feelings than both of their parents. Two hundred and ninety students had feelings that were weaker than those of their parents. There was a pronounced trend in the difference of the strength of religious feelings of mothers, fathers and students. Mothers possessed a greater level of faith than fathers. Fathers, in turn, had a higher level of faith than students (see graph).

Pastor Studer of Plains Mennonite Church felt that weak religious feelings are to be expected in youth. However, he said, this often changes when young adults marry or have their first child. Studer believed that this new responsibility compels people to give thought to God. The demands of adulthood spur a renewed interest in religion.

When the religion of the parents differed, the mother had a more profound influence over the religion of the children than the father. Twenty-four students followed their father's religion, while forty-seven followed the religion of their mother. Dr. Mindrebo, principal of Calvary Baptist, was saddened by this fact; he felt that it is the father's duty to lead the zfamily in it's spiritual life. He said that in many cases, wives are forced to lead the family in religion because the father is unwilling to take such a role.

Of the students questioned,the Roman Catholic Church had the most members (eighty-seven). Forty students reported their religion as being "Lutheran Church in America", making it the second most common church. On the questionnaire, thirty-nine students reported their religion as "Christian Church". While the Christian Church was meant as a specific denomination, most of those answering were probably confused by the term, thinking that it meant simply being Christian in general.

So while "Christian Church" received the third highest number of members, it was discounted. Twenty-four students reported themselves as atheists. These four most common beliefs were followed by Judaism (eighteen members);the Presbyterian Church, agnosticism, and people who had no preference (all of which had seventeen members); the Baptist Church (sixteen members); Hinduism (eleven members); the United Methodist Church (eleven members); and the Methodist Church (ten members). These are the top twelve religions reported by the survey.

There were five religions which lost a significant number of their teen-aged members to atheism, agnosticism, or religious apathy: Judaism lost the greatest percentage, with 27.8%, followed by the United Methodist Church (27.2%), the Methodist Church (20.0%), the Lutheran Church (17.5%) and the Roman Catholic Church (14.9%). All other religions were either too small to be counted or lost no members.

Both Dr. Mindrebo and Pastor Studer felt that doubt is essential to producing a religious faith strong enough to last all of one's life. They both felt that this questioning begins in adolescence; Dr. Mindrebo suggested that doubting may start in the later elementary school years but could possibly occur later, even in high school.

Pastor Studer believed that questioning begins in junior high or high school. He went on to say that to him, a person who has not had doubts about their religion does not really belong to that religion. "All of their ideas are borrowed," he said. No faith that is untested can be of great value. Pastor Studer and Dr. Mindrebo each thought that by the time most students reach high school, they would have given some thought as to the validity of their religion's teachings.

In the study, there were clear lines between those who had questioned the religious faith of their childhoods and those who had not. Some people listed their religion as the same as their parents', listed their strength of religious feeling as the same as their parents', and, in the space on the questionnaire for writing about doubts, scratched "NO" in large letters.

But many people indicated that their strength of religious feeling was less than that of their parents or expressed the fact that they had or were experiencing doubts about what they had been taught. The results of the survey show that slightly less than half of the students have questioned their religion. This would indicate that religious apathy is more prevalent than either Dr. Mindrebo or Pastor Studer had believed.

Overall, there were only two trends the related religion to intelligence. There were no Jews in 1.0 level classes, but there were fifty percent in the gifted program. The percentage of Jews increased linearly with the difficulty of the courses. The opposite was true of Catholics. Generally, there was a higher percentage of Catholics in lower-level classes. This may be due to many things, including economic background and attitude of parents.

In addition to these two trends, there were some interesting facts regarding atheism, agnosticism and being gifted. Of twenty-four atheists, ten were gifted, and of seventeen agnostics, six were also gifted. This does not seem significant until it is realized that there were only eighty-seven gifted students questioned out of three hundred and fifty-four total.

The results of the survey bear out the hypothesis that most youth give little thought to matters such as religion. Many of the students belong to their religion in name only; they do not bother to consider the implications of what they believe. However, there was a sizable group of students who did indicate that they had thought about religion, who were not going through the motions of religion merely to please their parents.

Perhaps the number of those who think seriously about religion will increase as students graduate, are thrust into the real world, and discover that they need to develop their own beliefs.

Works Cited

Berkhart, R. Understanding Youth. New York: Abingdon Press, 1938.

Funk. Personal interview. May 3,1990.

Hadden, Jeffrey K. Religion in Radical Transition. New York: Transaction, Inc., 1971.

Hardon, John A. Christianity in the Twentieth Century. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1971.

Jeeves, Malcolm A. Psychology and Christianity; the View Both Ways. Downer's Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press, 1976.

Mead, Margaret. Culture and Commitment. New York: Doubleday Anchor Press, 1979.

Mindrebo. Personal interview. May 4, 1990.

Ross, Murray. Religious Beliefs of Youth. New York: Association Press, 1950.

Studer. Personal interview. May 4, 1990.

---------

Ed Watkeys "...the peace symbol is actually an an-
phlpa!caligula!edw@cs.widener.edu cient Druidic symbol which means 'de-
Programmer, Athiest, Cynic feat Christianity.'" -- P. Hoefflinger
Distant Software/Drexel University ------CYNICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK-------


Scott Bodarky
IQ and religious belief.

I think the crux of the biscuit is that divine conceptions do not really stem from intellect, but from individual psychology and cultural logos.

As human civilization has developed we have conceived of gods that are reflective of our logos. The western monodiety is anthropomorphic like, but more abstract than, its predecessors. It has little in the way of personality and is farther removed from the realm of everyday existence than, say, Zeus was.

On the other hand, while the Greek gods were reflective of what was a burgeoning civilization that made music, art, and wine, the monodiety is reflective of the bands of desert nomads from which it came; it is harsh and demanding, it is petty and possessive, and, in the final analysis, vaguely psychotic.

As we all are composed of billions of cells, each of which comes into being as an individual, exists for a time, and then dissipates into its environment, so we are ourselves cells in larger systems. As our cells cannot possibly conceive of a "human being," so we are limited in our ability to hold holistic views of the higher-level systems in which we exist. Our conceptions of gods are attempts to grapple with these higher-level systems, and are limited approximations at best. Humans believing in an anthropomorphic god is rather like cells believing that god is a cell, separate but similar to themselves.


>The latest issue of _NCSE Reports_ (from the National Center for Science
>Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709) discusses a December 1991
>Gallup Poll which asked Americans whether or not they agreed with the
>statement that "Man was created pretty much in his present form about
>10,000 years ago." 47% agreed, 49% disagreed. Of those who disagreed,
>80% said that they believed in God.

Jim, was the data more specific as to which "version" of God, that the 80% beleived in? Or was it just stated as "they beleived in "a" God?


>(_NCSE Reports_ also points out that "people with more education
>and income rejected this statement [the one quoted above] twice as
>often as poorer, less educated respondents.")

A couple implications come to mind on this: 1) education removes some of the myth's surrounding man's need for a belief in a higher being, with emphasis on science and philosophy as the tools by which this is accomplished; 2) education, with income following, brings us to a state of self-sufficiency, therefore the concept of relying on a "all-powerful" creator who will provide us with sustenance, is transferred to the individual.

Is it education alone or the monetary success that education can bring that causes someone to either reject previously accepted beliefs or not consider a belief system at all?

Some evidence that it may be the former (education) which is more significant is that most studies of education level and religiosity find an inverse correlation. (For a summary of 43 such studies done between 1927 and 1982, see Burnham P. Beckwith, "The Effect of Intelligence on Religious Faith," Free Inquiry 6(2):46-53.)

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