No, an Ohio State Class Did Not Teach That Christians Are Dumber Than Atheists

Image: Friendly Atheist

By Hemant MehtaFriendly Atheist

According to an article on the conservative site Campus Reform, a recent online quiz for a Psychology 1100 class at The Ohio State University asked students:

Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125. Which of the following statements [would] you expect to be true?

– Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.
– Aine earns less money than Theo.
– Theo is more liberal than Aine.
– Theo is an atheist, while Aine is a Christian.

Correct answer? Aine (with a higher IQ) is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.

Assuming nothing here is doctored, it just strikes me as a horribly written, too-simplified-to-be-useful question.

It’s true that a research paper published last fall said there’s a negative correlation between religiosity and IQ — the higher your IQ, the less religious you were — but even the researchers didn’t jump to the conclusion that the quiz question suggests:

But [psychologist Miron] Zuckerman is careful to point out that his work — known as a “meta-study” because it examines a range of other studies — does not mean only dumb people believe in God.

Rather, he said, it shows only that more intelligent people may have less need for religion.

“It is truly the wrong message to take from here that if I believe in God I must be stupid,” he said. “I would not want to bet any money on that because I would have a very good chance of losing a lot of money.”

“We say it is possible that having a high level of intelligence provides similar functions to what religion provides” for people who adhere to a religion, Zuckerman said.

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Religious People Are Less Intelligent Than Atheists

Das Kreuz mit den Religionen
Das Kreuz mit den Religionen
A review of 63 scientific studies dating back to 1928 has concluded that religious people are less intelligent than non-believers.Only 10 of the 63 studies showed a positive correlation between intelligence and religiosity.


The paper, entitled The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations, was led by Professor Miron Zuckerman of the University of Rochester, and was published in the academic journal Personality and Social Psychology Review on 6 August.

Zuckerman’s team studied decades worth of analysis, noting many atheism and intellect studies “share one central theme – the premise that religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable, and therefore unappealing to intelligent people who ‘know better’.”

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