IQ and Being Religious


Earlier today I read some of the thread about college turning kids atheists, which led me to do a few Google searches. I found an article which is about a year or 2 old, stating that studies show the higer one's IQ, the less likely they are to be religious. It kind of upset me to read that, since I'm Catholic and am not an intellectual. What do you make of this?


Keep in mind that many religious denominations in the United States in particular teach things like creationism and denounce evolution.

My guess is that people with a higher IQ are more likely to be interested in science (which already will make them reject any fundamentalist religion that knocks evolution and argues for a young earth), they may also be more likely to read secular philosophy and other secular literature.


I have thought about this also, but all I have to do is read Thomas Aquinas and others to know there is little truth to it. My brother in law has a masters in biochemistry and he is a devout Catholic. This is enough for me.


Yep, what Flyingfish said. I was working on a Ph.D. until I quit to have my son. Out of everyone I knew in school, the only religious people were Catholic :D. Everyone else had grown up Protestant and ended up rejecting it for its various inconsistencies - including creationism, Biblical literalism, etc. Fundamentalism doesn’t hold up if you’re very well educated, for the most part. Catholicism tends to because the deeper you go, the more you discover. Plus, you know, it’s only the foundation of Western thought and all.

That said, though, I have a very smart friend who went through Bob Jones and still believes in all their Protestant fundamentalist stuff :shrug:. So go figure.


Well, there are plenty of exceptions, and I’d like to think I’m one of them.

I have a high IQ and I’m about as invested in science as anyone can be (engineering major at my university) and I strive to be more Catholic every day.

I’d have to agree with pentecostbaby, but I would add that I see many lapsed/lukewarm Catholics. I’d attribute this to the poor religious education that my generation has received. I think there are some major issues when people are confirmed and don’t know the difference between venial/mortal sin, or why we do certain things during Mass, etc.


I call BS. Religion and intelligence have nothing to do with each other.

I'm religious and not that smart....


Being blessed with an above average IQ, I also consider myself to be a devout Roman Catholic. I think there may be a little truth to the statement of higher intellectuals being less religious than those who have lower IQs because those who invest themselves in science can be too devoted to its study instead of developing a prayer life. Suddenly, that interest develops into a problem because the intellect thinks they know all the mysteries of the universe because of what science has “revealed” to them. Very sad when this happens…


Ok, we are not taking a very scientific approach to the data though. The poll was taken a couple of years ago from only one source, we need several more examples before making a conclusion to it.

Personally, I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I have a high IQ, and I’ve had to invest a ton of gray matter throughout my life through it’s obsticals to prove it. The thing is, without having a real spirtual life, you are cutting off options in knowledge from your understanding. If you have faith, you are actually adding onto them. It’s actually a less evolved understanding to limit yourself with anything, especially if it’s to the fundamental core of your being. I can study and be proficient as the next guy and actually teach evolution, it still doesn’t mean I believe in it, at least not by far in it’s present form of understanding. But, still, I can teach that same class and even include creationist, ID, theory as well, so, who is educating better, the atheist or the believer???

I will say though, by relying upon your own intellect completely, and scratching out some form of living from it, it’s very easy to get caught up with pride, and as we all know, this clearly separates us from God., So, having these higher IQ’s, there is more temptation to contend with in that regard. The same thing can go with money also.


High IQ is no indicator of morality either. My husband is a Neurologist, an MD who is a specialist of the brain and central nervous system. He is also a practicing Catholic. He has told me in the past of conversations he has had with non religious doctors who have told him they believe some of their patients (i.e. those with Down Syndrome) should have been aborted.

Knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing.


There are so many questions regarding the validity of this study- methodology, definition of ‘religious’ used, sampling method and size, effect size etc. Also bear in mind the problem of publishing bias - journals and researchers generally only publish studies that show a difference or an association. There may be several or more studies showing no link between IQ and religiosity. In addition, studies of this type tell you nothing about any particular individual as the effect is based on averages of the whole cohort. If it makes you feel better consider all of the brilliant minds who were all Catholic.

Speaking personally, my IQ puts me in the top 1% of the population…Please believe that I’m not boasting, just helping to reassure you!


While I do not mean to brag or sound boastful, my IQ is far past the Mensa requirement, the top .25 percentile. (I have spent a lifetime learning how to play dumb so as not to intimidate people.) Yet I love God with all my heart and strive to confirm my conscience to everything the Church teaches. I would never do anything that would separate me from Holy Mother Church.

Some of the most intelligent people in history believed in God. Sir Issac Newton, Albert Einstein, St. Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Mendelssohn, and, yes, even Darwin.


Keep in mind that Satan had/has the second highest IQ in history, so it is not a very good measure for evaluating what really matters.


i dont see people who reason poorly enough to not know there is a G-d, as particulary intelligent. after all, how seriously can we take a livingt athiest? either he lacks the courage of his convictions, or he truly holds no such conviction. :shrug:


Don’t forget that candidates for the priesthood have several years of intense tertiary study before Ordination.


extreme haughtiness or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of touch with reality and overestimating one’s own competence or capabilities, especially for people in positions of power.
Applies to both college kids, and ivory tower college professors.


so true!!!


Good point. The angels had perfect intellects, but that didn’t stop some of them from rebelling. And who’s smarter than God? :wink:

Here’s a short list of notable Catholic scientists: I’m sure there are also many religious mathematicians.


Truths of the Kingdom were revealed to shepherds and fishermen, weren’t they? This is not to make any speculations on the IQs of relevant persons (being poor, uneducated and simple doesn’t make your IQ low), but it simply points that a high IQ is not necessary for salvation nor is average intelligence or even being slow in the mind, an impediment from salvation. Which is great. We aren’t an elite club!

This said, some arguments against religion altogether, Christianity in particular or Catholicism in particular-particlar, don’t sit well with what I’d expect from high intelligence or high logical ability. The liberal camp is riddled with contraditions, though again, this doesn’t rule on the IQs.


I think this answer reveals heart of the issue. I know many Catholics who are very, very intelligent (especially in math and sciences). In my experience, it seems like people with high IQs are just as likely to stay Catholic as people with average IQs.

However, there are fewer fundamentalist Protestants with high IQs, which makes it appear that smart people are less religious.


At least in America, there is a strong anti-religious culture in the segments of higher education where people with high IQs congregate. It’s nearly impossible to find a devout Catholic in an English or Sociology program, for example. Therefore, there’s a strong peer pressure to abandon religion in that environment.

I have found that people studying Physics and Astronomy are split between being militant atheists and devout Catholics/Christians. (Most of them are atheists, but there are more Christians than one would expect.)

Engineering programs are more conservative; given the reduced peer pressure to become atheist, you will find a sizable population of Christians.

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