Atheism, intelligence and the General Social Survey

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Citing data from the General Social Survey (GSS), Vox Day writes: "..the two most common types of atheists are the High Church atheists with +2SD IQs (128+) and Low Church atheists with -2SD IQs (65-72). Note that the Low Church atheists actually outnumber the High Church atheists, 22.9 to 17.2 percent."[1] (click on the graph above to enlarge)

Social scientists define atheism in various ways which makes determining the number of atheists in the United States more difficult to determine.[2] See also: Definition of atheism and Attempts to dilute the definition of atheism and Definitions of atheist and agnostic

Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is the denial of the existence of God.[3]

In his article How Many Americans are Atheists? Fewer than You Might Think, Bradley Wright wrote:

Another quality measure is offered by the General Social Survey, probably the best-known, most rigorous social survey out there. It gives respondents a series of statements about their beliefs in God, and it asks which come closest to what they believe. The 2010 survey found that:

• 3% of Americans “don’t believe in God.” • (Another 6% reported that they “don’t know whether there is a God and don’t believe there is any way to find out,” i.e., agnostics.)[4]

The General Social Survey (GSS) is the "largest project funded by the Sociology Program of the National Science Foundation. Except for the U.S. Census, the GSS is the most frequently analyzed source of information in the social sciences."[5]

As you can see above, the social scientists at the General Social Survey do not define as strictly as encyclopedias of philosophy and many other reference works.[6] As a result, in reporting their survey results there is some overlap with individuals who some may consider to be merely agnostics.

Citing data from the General Social Survey, Vox Day writes about atheist intelligence quotient (IQ) scores:

"..the two most common types of atheists are the High Church atheists with +2SD IQs (128+) and Low Church atheists with -2SD IQs (65-72). Note that the Low Church atheists actually outnumber the High Church atheists, 22.9 to 17.2 percent...

Now, the statistically naive might look at this chart, note that the +2SD theists only account for 3.5 percent of the theistic population, and assume that this means there are more highly intelligent atheists than highly intelligent theists. This is not the case. As it happens, there are 11.4x more +2SD theists who either know God exists or believe God exists despite having the occasional doubt than there are +2SD atheists who don't believe God exists.[7]

In a 2010 article, Vox Day writes:

Never forget that the smarter and more knowledgeable act put on by many atheists is inevitably nothing more than that, an act, and one that has absolutely no basis in empirical reality except for a three-point average advantage in IQ which is almost surely a statistical artifact of their insignificant numbers and self-selected identification.[8]

Atheism, intelligence and other social science data

Within various countries, standardized intelligence test (IQ) scores related to the issue of atheists/agnostics vs. theists intelligence scores yield conflicting results.[9] As noted above, part of the problem is that social scientists use variant definitions of atheism.[10]

However, within individuals, families and societies irreligion/religion can have an effect on intelligence - especially over time (See: Atheism and intelligence).

See also


Atheism and the theory of multiple intelligences:

Notes

  1. Mailvox: The distribution of atheist intelligence
  2. How Many Americans are Atheists? Fewer than You Might Think by Bradley Wright, January 26, 2012
  3. Multiple references:
  4. How Many Americans are Atheists? Fewer than You Might Think by Bradley Wright, January 26, 2012
  5. About the General Social Survey
  6. Multiple references:
  7. Mailvox: The distribution of atheist intelligence
  8. Always call their bluff
  9. "Who is smarter; are atheists smarter than Christians? An examination of studies" (2007). Doxa: Christian Thought in the 21st Century. Retrieved on October 29, 2014.
  10. Multiple references: