General Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

Is there a correlation between a person's faith (or lack of) with their intellect?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) March 20th, 2016
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

18 Answers

SecondHandStoke's avatar

No one’s brainpower is taxed by believing in something.

No one’s observational skills are used in the act of belief.

No processing. No questioning, no mental ruminating.

Just a void.


marinelife's avatar

Not intellect, but perhaps education level.

ragingloli's avatar

Unfortunately, intelligence is no protection against religious ignorance. Just look at Newton.

stanleybmanly's avatar

apparently not. The question remains: should there be a correlation?

canidmajor's avatar

Ask the Jesuits.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Not necessarily.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know. I think the more intelligent people might think about it more deeply than a less intelligent person. Therefore, thorough examining and thinking about it, a more intelligent person might come to the conclusion that “faith” is just a social thing, not a literally thing.

I’ve never been dumb, and I believed until about 2007, when I met Rarebear. However, I never believed blindly. I questioned, came up with my own ideas. My church spoke in tongues. I thought it was stupid. Totally idiotic. Church members looked askance at me, but I didn’t let that pressure change my thoughts.

janbb's avatar

I’ve heard of studies that show that religious belief spans all educational levels. I don’t think there is necessarily a correlation.

PriceisRightx26's avatar

Correlation does not imply causation.

Jeruba's avatar

No. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve known were people of great faith. This number includes the college professors and PhDs among whom I grew up, many of whom were also my relatives. I had plenty of opportunity to observe how sincerely they followed and practiced their beliefs at a personal level. The wonder is that I eluded captivity.

As I see it (and as has been persuasively argued by others), belief is not a rational but an emotional thing; and the more intelligent and well educated a believer is, the better at defending intellectually the position that he or she has taken emotionally.

I can’t say anything, however, about the incidence of atheism among those of lower intelligence and education. It would be interesting to know whether it has the same spread across the spectrum as theism has.

Strauss's avatar

Judging from personal experience, I would say no. I’ve known some very intelligent people who had extremely strong faith in their respective dogmas.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t think so, in fact I don’t think intellect alone tells you anything about the nature of a person.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t know any actual statistics, but I doubt it. I know a lot of very smart people who are religious. On a physiological level I remember reading about a “God center” in the brain. It seems some people have that part of the brain more active. That might be totally separate from what makes us have low or high IQ’s.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more intelligent people are more accepting that there are many religions in the world, and it’s ok if not everyone believes the same as they do. I might be idealistic about that.

jerv's avatar

A loose one. Those who lack the intellect to make sense of the world are more likely to place their faith in higher powers as it involves a lot less thinking; any question too complex for that person to answer can be ducked by saying, ”I don’t know but God dies, and that’s good enough for me!” without any sort of critical thinking at all.

However, while those on the other end of the scale are more likely to see their own answers rather than rely unquestioning obedience of religious dogma, some of high intellect maintain faith and merely ask deeper, more thoughtful questions. Newton had both faith and intellect, and his quest for answers about the nature of the universe led him to ask some pretty deep questions, furthering math and science considerably in the process.

I’d say that there is a stronger correlation between one’s curiosity and whether one has faith or not. Those of lower intellect lack curiosity because asking questions one cannot understand the answers to highlights one’s shortcomings. For those people, it’s safer to just find someone who tells you what to believe, echo their dogma, and avoid the whole thinking thing entirely.

@JLeslie Most of the intelligent people I know are agnostic for reasons that are summed up by J.B.S. Haldane’s famous quote, “My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”. Religion serves an important psychological need for things to make sense, but not everyone is willing/able to take someone else’s word when they say, “The universe works like this….”. And for some, the urge to not be wrong is far stronger than the urge to be right; by not following any religion, you’re less likely to be wrong than if you had a totally incorrect assumption of how things are.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I think there is a connection between a lack of belief in mythologies and the ability to think critically. And I think the smarter you are, the more efficiently and faster you can assimilate various ideas in order to do that. So, in that sense, yes. But unless one is taught and modicum of critical thinking and then practice it, all the intelligence in the world won’t help them to punch holes in myths. But even that can be suspended at will and often is for one reason or another.

The truth is like poetry. But average people hate poetry.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv Yes, but you don’t live In the very religious parts of the country I don’t think. Unless I remember incorrectly.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie New England is fairly religious, though not to the extent that the Bible Belt is. The West Coast… not so much. Then again, unlike where I used to live back East, both San Diego and Seattle are considerably less than 96.8% White, so it stands to reason the culture here would be different.

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