Why do people become atheists and pious

Faith and IQ: Are Religious People Really Dumber?

Are people with higher intellect more likely to be atheists? Researchers and thinkers have grappled with this hypothesis from antiquity to the Internet age, and so Edward Dutton from the Ulster Institute for Social Research and Dimitri Van der Linden from Erasmus University Rotterdam have a good tradition: The two social scientists have now published in " Evolutionary Psychological Science "their new attempt to find explanations for the negative correlation between religiosity and intelligence, which appears again and again in historical records and is supported by all kinds of surveys.

Dutton and Van der Linden are now trying an approach based on models of evolutionary psychology. First of all, all the characteristics of human biology - that is, in addition to anatomy, for example, hereditary instinctive behavioral patterns - are essentially shaped by the environmental challenges of evolution. Dutton and Van der Linden now also regard religiosity as a special form of instinct: a behavior that made sense over so long stretches of evolution that it has established itself as a common, not constantly questioned and hereditary behavior pattern. But because a higher intelligence allows people to a greater extent to act against instinctive behavior, if the situation requires it rationally, intelligence and religiosity would correlate negatively.

Various reasons speak for the fact that religiosity - that is, the general willingness to follow beliefs in certain areas more or less without a rational examination - actually became an "instinctive" basic equipment of the human being, as religious scholars argue. Clear groups of people of a common belief grow closer together faster, they may recognize in the other a willingness to cooperate and altruistic renunciation as well as to subordinate themselves to rules and norms or the currently valid social framework. In addition, violations of rules could be less common in groups that constantly see themselves assessed by a higher authority. In fact, another argument in favor of classifying religiosity as instinct is that instincts become more or less automatically stronger in stressful situations - which has been proven for religiosity both in individual individuals and in groups. Religious people also usually have more children - and would thus pass on the hereditary instinct of "religiosity".

Rather the opposite is true for intelligent people: statistically they have fewer children - even if other influencing factors such as socio-economic status or the degree of development of their home countries are taken into account. However, higher intelligence may also have had evolutionary advantages, as researchers with an optimistic worldview acknowledge. Overall, this leads to the somewhat paradoxical situation, summarize Dutton and Van der Linden, that the evolutionary processes have promoted both higher intelligence and greater religiousness in humans, although both work against each other. If one characteristic were to dominate, the disadvantages would accumulate, state the evolutionary psychologists using selected examples: Extreme, fundamentalist religious groups are demonstrably becoming less and less open and permeable and stagnating in the ethnocentrism they have developed; Groups of people with an overly strong focus on intelligence, on the other hand, with all openness, may simply die out because they no longer have children. All of this, add Dutton and Van der Linden, "is admittedly of course speculative". At least their view of things explains the negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity, which has been confirmed again and again.