University of Rochester psychologists have just completed a review of 63 scientific studies about religion and intelligence dating between 1928 and now.
In 53 of these there was a “reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity”. In other words, atheists are brighter than believers.
They have a higher “ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience”.
Now it’s an established fact that IQ, the higher the better, is the single most reliable predictor of practical success in today’s world.
And success in today’s world is measured mostly by money, of which people with higher IQ scores tend to have more. Thus if a child has a high IQ, he’s more likely to make a lot of money at an early age.
Here’s an example of one such child, or rather a bright young man of 21. His IQ is undoubtedly 130-plus, which is higher than in 95 percent of the population.
His hunger for success is commensurately high, for success is something he knows he deserves – his IQ is high. The young German, Moritz Erhardt, is richly endowed with all the fine qualities that add up to intelligence. So he puts them to work.
Ability to reason: Moritz figures out that the shortest route to fiscal success runs through big international banks and other financial organisations.
Ability to plan: International banks like international experience, so Moritz enrols in University of Michigan. Since London is the financial centre of the world, he then wants to do internship at a major bank based in the City.
Ability to solve problems: Though he faces stiff competition from hundreds of other possessors of a high IQ, Moritz gets into Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London.
Ability to think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas,learn quickly: It doesn’t take Moritz long to demonstrate all of those. One thing he learns quickly, from both observation and experience, is that though a high intelligence is a necessary condition, it’s not a sufficient one.
His employers are prepared to pay him £45,000 a year to learn his trade, after which millions beckon. But they want something in return.
They want him to show willing and, if he doesn’t, he can take his high IQ back to Michigan, Germany or whatever. So show willing he does.
Moritz puts in 120-hour weeks, including ‘all-nighters’, those rites of passage to which all high-IQ interns are expected to submit. He’s in charge of his destiny, and this is the chance he isn’t going to miss.
The authors of the Rochester U study know all about lads like Moritz: “Intelligence may lead to greater self-control ability, self-esteem, perceived control over life events, and supportive relationships, obviating some of the benefits that religion sometimes provides.”
This description fits Moritz like a glove. Religion with its dubious benefits isn’t for him. It’s for silly, indecisive weaklings full of self-doubt. He, Moritz, is living proof that a man with a high IQ has ‘control over life events’.
Except that he doesn’t remain living proof for long. After working eight ‘all-nighters’ in the last fortnight, Moritz Erhardt collapsed in his bathroom and died of exhaustion.
He thus became the dying proof that there’s an infinitely higher intelligence than the kind measurable by IQ. It was best expressed by Thomas à Kempis:
“For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands.”
Moritz wouldn’t have regarded this statement as clever. According to the study, like others with a high IQ he probably believed that “religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who ‘know better’.”
No doubt that this is exactly what most high-IQ atheists, including the authors of the study, believe. They’re too intelligent to realise just how stupid this belief is.
It’s clear that IQ tests measure not the outcome but the potential, not intelligence but the ability to acquire it. The distinction is crucial – it’s like the difference between musicality and musicianship.
For instance perfect pitch is a useful thing for a musician to have: it makes it easier for him to become a musician. Yet I know an internationally acclaimed violinist, winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition, whose pitch is acquired, not absolute. I also know another violinist, blessed with perfect pitch, who plays in a Brooklyn restaurant.
That a high IQ is a reliable predictor of success in the modern world says more about the modern world than about intelligence.
Thomas Aquinas, for example, was such a slow, ponderous thinker that his university classmates called him a ‘dumb ox’. Since speed of thought is an important factor in IQ scores, his was probably no higher than average – which didn’t prevent St Thomas from becoming one of the deepest thinkers the world has ever known.
Yet if he were alive today he’d probably fail to become a Merrill Lynch intern – they want bright youngsters like Moritz Erhardt there.
The average IQ of university graduates is 112, 12 points higher than the median. This is probably enough to develop the kind of surrogate intelligence that enables a graduate to earn a good living.
However, real intelligence, the kind that would enable a man to grasp the ineffable sagacity of Kempis’s words quoted above, is much harder to come by. It takes decades of contemplation, study, ratiocination – and help from the grace of God.