Bright people do not need religion, study says

By Anna Sheinman, August 16, 2013

Religious people are less intelligent than non-religious people, an analysis of over 80 years of academic research has concluded.

The report concludes that there is “a reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity”.

Lead author Miron Zuckerman, of Rochester University, New York State, said: “It’s making waves. Some people will like it, some people will really
hate it.”

The paper is an analysis of studies going as far back as 1928. Fifty-three out of 63 showed a negative correlation between religion and intelligence.

Professor Zuckerman investigated explanations for the link. He noted that most explanations rest on the premise that “religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who ‘know better’”.

Religious beliefs are irrational, and unappealing to the intelligent

Intelligent people, the paper states, tend to be non-conformists, and so less likely to be religious in a religious society. They are also more likely to think analytically, and therefore less likely to be religious.

It also presents the theory of “functional equivalence” — that intelligence performs many of the roles that religion does. It suggests that intelligent people have higher self-worth and more self control, so do not need religion to fill those gaps.

But Rabbi Barry Marcus, of the Central Synagogue in London, called the findings “disingenuous and a little bit insulting”.

He said: “Depending on what sample you choose, you can prove anything you want. It’s disingenuous to put people like Rabbi Akiva and Maimonides, two of the greatest minds on earth, in the same category as everyone else.

“We need to remember what Einstein said: ‘Science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind’.”

Last updated: 9:45am, August 16 2013