Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 18, 2013

Amir Azarvan
Pages 151-168

Are Highly Theistic Countries Dumber? Critiquing the Intelligence-Religiosity Nexus Theory

Recent research suggests that higher-IQ countries have significantly more atheists, supposedly because higher intelligence confers a greater ability to apprehend the assumed irrationality of theistic belief. In this quantitative study, an alternative explanation is offered to explain the apparent relationship between intelligence and theism. It is theorized that higher education in free societies brings greater exposure to, and eases the acceptance of, such unconventional views as atheism. This exposure, in and of itself, augments the likelihood that one will reject belief in God. In addition, it is argued on the basis of the Christian ascetic tradition that materialism also produces higher levels of disbelief. OLS regression analysis of 99 countries confirms both theories, while revealing no evidence of an inverse link between intelligence and theism. Findings also show that disbelief is significantly lower in countries that are traditionally Roman Catholic, as well as in those that have not experienced communist rule.