Among the studies that are mentioned is a controversial study entitled "Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent" (link at the end of this post).
Medical writer Tom Rees devotes his blog Epiphenom to the scientific study of religion. Last week he examined a study on the relationship between intelligence and religious belief. Published in Social Psychology Quarterly, this study by Satoshi Kanazawa replicated the results of several earlier studies in showing that strong religious belief was correlated with lower intelligence. In this case, adolescents who scored higher on intelligence tests were less likely to be religious as adults.
But Rees says Kanazawa’s study goes beyond those earlier studies to arrive at a potential explanation of why less-intelligent people are more religious: Intelligence evolved in order for people to adapt to novel situations.
You should go over to Epiphenom to read a summary of the study as well as my commentary on it, posted as a blog comment. In summary: I don't think it's very good. Kanazawa's evolutionary argument is completely based on some pretty wild conjectures and lacks any sort of empiric support. His argument is at most "sorta reasonable", but we must do better than that surely. For evolutionary researchers that have to spend considerable time and effort gathering a solid line of evidence, this sort of jumping to conclusions can be a tad annoying.
Also, let's remember what kind of forces we're dealing with here, how evolution through natural selection actually acts and what it acts on. Even if we assume first, that intelligence tests do measure some sort of good approximation of intelligence, and second, that results gathered today actually reflect a past situation; what difference do a "good few" average points make for survival? Any conclusions made from the correlation between higher intelligence, as measured by intelligence tests, and atheism are only significant within a larger evolutionary and functional neurobiological context. So take claims that atheists are more intelligent (on average) with a considerable pinch of salt.
Read more on the subject on Epiphenom, here and here.
Kanazawa, S. (2010). Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent Social Psychology Quarterly DOI: 10.1177/0190272510361602
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