Sunday, October 17, 2010

Religiosity and Intelligence: A Hypothesis

Anti-religious individuals enjoy pointing to the apparent negative correlation between Religiosity and Intelligence. For theists and other proponents of religion, the above article certainly presents itself as "an inconvenient fact". I've even seen some of the more irreligious atheists take it as a sign of their innate mental superiority.

The hypothesis of these individuals seems to be, "If an individual is highly intelligent, then that individual will almost certainly reject religion." It's overly simplistic to be sure, and there are countless counterexamples in history books and today's headlines, but that does seem to be the claim being made. With that in mind, I offer a counter-hypothesis.

Hypothesis: The nature of religion causes religious individuals to have more to think about than atheists. Being an atheist requires one to know nothing, as it is by definition a state of "not knowing" something. Consequently, religious individuals of equal intelligence [to a given atheist] have a certain part of their mental ability partitioned off for religiosity, thus causing slightly lower scores on IQ tests.

The fact that complicated things are more difficult to understand than easy things should be an axiom accepted by all. For instance, a given individual can learn the relatively simple syntax of a programming language in far less time than it takes to become fluent in a large linguistic language (example: I picked up php's syntax in one day. :D). Most programming languages are written with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in mind, and the fact that people easily learn these languages seems to offer more proof of the above axiom.

So too it is with atheism and religion. "Some thing" [religion] always requires more thinking power than "no thing" [atheism].

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