Scientists investigate if atheists’ brains are missing a ‘God Spot’ – The Globe and Mail

Are atheists smarter than people who believe in God?

Historically, atheism has been a position open mainly to educated, upper-class people – a segment of society with the resources and leisure time to ponder life’s larger questions, as well as the freedom to break with social norms.

A study released in February using survey data and IQ tests from British teenagers found that the teens with higher intelligence scores were more likely to be atheists.

Todd Shackelford, an evolutionary psychologist at Florida Atlantic University, has reviewed 40 studies on religious and intelligence going back 100 years. He says all but two of them suggested that more educated people tended to be less religious.

“There’s no doubt there are people who are extremely intelligent who are also very religious,” Dr. Shackelford says. “The question then becomes what is setting them apart.”

On the other hand, the 2005 World Values Survey, while generally finding the same trend, also suggested that the number of non-believers was slightly lower among university-educated people. (People with more education were also more likely to have other supernatural beliefs – in telepathy, for instance – than people who had graduated only from high school.)

In another, smaller survey conducted by the London-based Theos Think Tank, while lifelong atheists or non-religious people tended to have more education, people who had changed their minds and adopted religious belief at some point were more heavily represented among the highest education and class levels.


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