In a study titled Why Is Intelligence Negatively Associated with Religiousness, Edward Dutton and Dimitri Van der Linded tried to explain the link between intelligence and disbelief in God, as more and more individuals with high IQs prefer to adopt an atheist approach to life.
Religion Seen as Instinct
In a context where religion is seen as a primordial instinct and intelligence is the capability of overcoming and challenging one’s instincts, atheism can be easily explained. According to the two social scientists:
“The link between intelligence and religion can be explained if religion is considered an instinct, and intelligence the ability to rise above one’s instincts.”
In order to learn more about the link between intelligence and disbelief in God, the researchers came up with an Intelligence-Mismatch Association Model based on three pre-existing models that tried to explain the same theorem.
Their results suggested intelligence is an “inclination toward the non-instinctive.” Therefore, individuals with high IQs will have an appetence for solving evolutionary puzzles. Since religion requires a certain amount of instinct, blind faith as followers call it, intelligent individuals will be forced to abandon the practice, thus deepening the hiatus between disbelief and high cognitive capabilities.
Stress Amplifies One’s Religious Beliefs
The same study managed to explain why some people turn to religion after experiencing a traumatic episode. The human brain perceives any impending danger or trauma as stress, and in an attempt to overcome the stressful situation, it will automatically direct more resources towards instinct rather than logic.
Seeing as religion is an instinct, or so Dutton and Van der Linden suggest, people going through stressful times will be more likely to turn to religion because their logic is impaired.
While the two social scientists do make some valid points, their entire theory is based on a supposition, just like all other models created prior to this study. In truth, there are many reasons why people don’t feel attracted to religion or why they renounce it.
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