Does disbelief in God correlate with higher intelligence? According to this article, a researcher thinks so:
The last bit of that quoted text, which mentions that Lynn has made assertions correlating intelligence with race or sex, makes me quite wary of what he has to say on this subject. I am also suspicious of the suggestion that IQ test results directly correlate with "intelligence", which I think is a concept that is loaded and often difficult to pin down.
Belief in God is much lower among academics than among the general population because scholars have higher IQs, a controversial academic claimed this week.
In a forthcoming paper for the journal Intelligence, Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, will argue that there is a strong correlation between high IQ and lack of religious belief and that average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 countries.
In the paper, Professor Lynn - who has previously caused controversy with research linking intelligence to race and sex - says evidence points to lower proportions of people holding religious beliefs among "intellectual elites".
That being said, though, I do think there is a way of viewing this subject that is being overlooked, because the idea of God per se is so commonly conflated with specific notions of God as "he" is often conceived. It hardly surprises me that many intellectuals and academics would reject as untenable a pre-Enlightenment concept of an interventionist God as Patriarch-in-the-Sky who miraculously fertilizes a virgin's egg with his Divine sperm, or who causes the offspring of that fertilization process to literally rise upwards into a heavenly realm that is part of a pre-Copernican three-tiered universe, or who in the modern day and age miraculously heals a parishioner's aunt's bad hip because the parishioner asked enough people in church to pray for it. I think that the more educated one becomes, the more likely one is to develop a view that sees the world as governed by consistent and generally predictable physical laws, which doesn't really seem to jibe very well with this traditional and miracle-laden form of theism (which Marcus Borg calls "supernatural theism".) They see this literalized mythology, and I think rightly so, as untenable and inconsistent with the way they understand the universe to operate.
But what does that have to do with the concept of God per se? As Marcus Borg says, "tell me about the God you don't believe in, and I probably don't believe in that God either." So many intellectuals who reject the concept of "God" are really just rejecting a stereotypical concept of God.
Perhaps the idea of a God who is not supernaturally theistic is not everyone's cup of tea. Maybe supernatural theism is easier to work with than the theologies of people like Tillich, Borg, Spong, Hartshorne, or Hick, because it conceives of God in ways that are more analogous with our ordinary experience of other objects and agents in our world, and is thus more accessible to the human imagination. Because an ineffable God as Ground of Being is much more difficult for us to get our minds around than ordinary objects that we encounter in our everyday world, we rely on mythologies as the lens through which we view the Divine. Not that this is a bad thing, but the problems arise when these mythologies are so often taken literally, and God becomes objectified and turned into something within the same ontological category as those objects we encounter in everyday experience.
Peter Rollins, in his book The Fidelity of Betrayal, writes of the problem of objectifying God:
This idea of life as beyond the realm of objectivity can be compared to our experience of light. No matter how wide we open our eyes or how hard we stare we cannot see the light that illumines our world. Just as the light in a room is not seen but rather enables us to see, so our life is not experienced but enables us to experience. Our life does not then exist like objects we encounter on a daily basis; however, it is undeniable that our own life is present to us. This can help us to understand what we mean by saying that God is not a problem to be solved but rather a mystery to participate in. For, like God, our life cannot be understood if we distance ourselves from it and treat it as an object of contemplation. Rather we must explore it indirectly, understanding that it is testified to in the midst of our engagement with the world rather than caught by treating it as an object in our world. God is no more an object in the world than our life is an object in the world. Rather, God is that which grounds our world and opens a world up to us. (p. 115)Rollins also points out in his book that when faith is identified with the affirmation of creeds or is dependent on the truth of certain historical claims--which is what characterizes so much of Christianity--it lends itself almost inevitably to questioning and the possibility of rejection by intellectuals:
When the truth affirmed by Christianity is thought of as constituting a series of factual claims open to being assessed by intellectual experts, Christianity opens itself up to a corrosive form of doubt that threatens to destroy it. (p. 92)One of the things that I like about what Rollins has to say on the subject of miracles as violations of physical laws is not that these miracles do or don't happen, but that the whole question is irrelevant. The focus of religion, he believes, should not be on any faith in such miracles, but rather on the transformative power that religious faith introduces into our lives. This is the real "miracle":
The point is not to exclude the idea that miracles can involve awe-inspiring, breathtaking spectacles, but rather to point out that if the event is purely spectacular, involving no real change in the core of one's being, then it is nothing more than a spectacle. Physical changes are natural insomuch as they take place in the natural world. Our medical technology is constantly improving and is able to heal in ways that would have seemed magical only a hundred or two hundred years ago. Vital as such healing is in today's world, such a focus can eclipse what Christianity affirms as the true miracle. It is not something natural (although it will manifest itself in the natural world) but something supernatural. It does not register as an object that can be recorded and beamed around the world on some religious cable channel, or witnessed at a local charismatic healing service. A miracle worth its salt takes place in the world but is not of it. A miracle worthy of the name is so radical that while in the physical world nothing may change, in the one who has been touched by it nothing remains the same. (p. 149)As long as the concept of God is objectified, and as long as religion is equated with the affirmation of truth claims that intrude upon the magisterium of science, I think it is going to be a tough sell as an intellectual concept in the modern age.