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Intelligent people less likely to believe in God

June 12, 2008 12:40 IST

People with higher intelligence quotients are less likely to believe in God because they have questioning minds, a new study has revealed.

Researchers, led by Professor Richard Lynn of Ulster University, have found a link between intelligence and atheism -- in fact, according to them, university academics are less likely to believe in God than almost anyone else.

"Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God," leading British newspaper The Daily Telegraph quoted Prof Lynn as saying.

He has based his conclusion on a survey of Royal Society fellows which found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God -- at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general British population described themselves as "believers".

According to Prof Lynn, most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence -- and their intelligence increased -- a large number of them started to have doubts.

Moreover, he said that religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

But critics have flayed the study results published in the latest edition of the Intelligence journal.

Prof Gordon Lynch of Birkbeck College, London, said it failed to take account of a complex range of social, economic and historical factors.

"Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive," he said.

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