A new study conducted by researchers from the UK and the Netherlands found that a lack of religion is correlated with increased intelligence.
The research paper was published in Evolutionary Psychology Science with researchers introducing the ‘Intelligence-Mismatch Association model’. They debated whether or not religion is an “evolved domain,” – something you’d refer to as an instinct.
Co-author Edward Dutton says:
“If religion is an evolved domain then it is an instinct, and intelligence – in rationally solving problems – can be understood as involving overcoming instinct and being intellectually curious, and thus open to non-instinctive possibilities,”
The researchers ideas are similar to the work of evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa’s ‘Savanna-IQ Principles’. She argued that we’ve not changed much from our free roaming roots and points out that our mental processing is highly influenced by how the first humans handled the world in ancient times.
In a meta-analysis consisting of 63 studies, it was found there is a negative link between intelligence and how religious people are.
It’s clear that this is an ongoing trend, meaning that on average, those who aren’t religious (atheists) are considered to be more intelligent than those who are devout religious individuals. However, correlation doesn’t always equal causation so we’re sure there’s plenty of intelligent religious individuals out there. The analysis sees the picture as a whole and gives an average.
Dutton worked with co-author Dimitri Van Der Linden from oRotterdam University on developing a model that looks into the genetic distinction between intelligence and instinct. They focused primarily on stress and instinct because people are more instinctive and less rational during more overwhelming times.
Rationality and intelligence help us to cope with acting on instinct.
“If religion is indeed an evolved domain – an instinct – then it will become heightened at times of stress when people are inclined to act instinctively, and there is clear evidence for this. It also means that intelligence allows us to able to pause and reason through the situation and the possible consequences of our actions.”
Problem-solving skills and critical thinking are vital in today’s world as society has evolved to a point where our instinct can often prove to be a hindrance to productivity.
It’s often termed by researchers as an evolutionary mismatch: what was an advantage for our nomadic, hunter-gatherer ancestors could well be a disadvantage to modern day people. The human psyche is a complex mystery and we all know this debate isn’t over…