You may have heard the arguments, psychologists have done many studies, and they have found that atheists are more intelligent than religious people.
Here is a quote from an article linked here: “the research found that atheists performed better overall than the religious participants even when demographic factors like age and education were taken into consideration. Agnostics mostly placed between atheists and believers on all tasks.”
How does that make you feel?
One question is; does religion make people stupid, or do stupid people choose religion? I’m writing as a Christian; I believe in the God who made this world, and I believe that Jesus made the way for us to find God. Does that make me stupid? Recently, I explained what I believe to a young relative of mine, and his answer was something like “How can an intelligent person believe that?”
I still have a good relationship with my relative, but the experience taught me some important lessons. When believers are accused of being stupid, we should remember some things:
Don’t argue: If someone calls you stupid, they create a circular argument. You could answer and defend yourself, but you are stupid; that has been decided. That means everything you say is stupid, and you can be ignored. You are inviting people to laugh at you. Jesus had some strong words about circular arguments with critics: “Never give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs. Otherwise, they will trample them with their feet and then turn around and attack you.” (Matthew 7:6)
Hear what they don’t say: If I say you are stupid, I am silently saying something else. If I call you names, I am calling myself a name also. If I say you are stupid, I am also saying that I am intelligent. I am making myself taller by pulling you down. The Prophet Isaiah warned us “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5: 21)
Don’t worship their God: If you are a believer, this information about intelligence and religion is a push. Someone wants you to stop believing. If some people find their self esteem in a score on a psychological test, they have found their god; and humans everywhere reject people who are different. God did not call us to high scores on intelligence tests: “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (Romans 16: 19)
Don’t be insecure: We are called to be humble, and we shouldn’t be proud. What if it’s true, and our IQ scores are slightly lower, on average? Are you still a worthy human being? Yes. We all have aging brains, some people have brain injuries, and some have conditions like Downs Syndrome; and God loves us all. Intelligence scores could become like skin color in a new racism. Some people will be less worthy. Believers have different instructions: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16)
I don’t think believers are less intelligent; I believe there is a selection bias built into every test. Test scores are a picture of our culture, and people make life choices. Some have to be mentally quick in their careers and social lives, and young assertive adults will have the highest scores. Other people who are more relaxed, and not committed to a high score, will score lower. The results are predictable.
My ‘trade’, in my career was Adult Education in colleges and universities, and we never used IQ scores to decide who deserved an education. We worked hard to make our programs available to everyone. In my career, I once belonged to an association that promoted upgrading for students who fell behind, and I was the coordinator for the group that focused on learners with disabilities. Everyone matters. That is how modern schools operate.
Everyone matters, that how believers should operate.
I hope we can all find qualities like purpose, and personal peace, and great happiness, in the God who loves us. That is a wise choice.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6: 24 to 26)