Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Fides et Ratio – Faith and Reason

By Peter Bowditch

Are reports of a negative correlation between intelligence and religious belief a tabloid beat-up?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

I spend a lot of my time talking with and about religious people, but I don’t usually write about it here because I am somewhat of a moderate NOMAist – that is, I generally subscribe to Stephen Jay Gould’s “Non-Overlapping Magisteria” concept that science and religion are different things for different purposes. I make exceptions, as did Gould, in cases where religions make testable claims about matters that are properly the concern of science (such as the age of the universe or the exact instant when a human foetus becomes viable) and also in cases where scientists try to perform such mental gymnastics as proving the non-existence of gods. Usually, however, I manage to compartmentalise myself into the atheist commentator on religious matters and the science commentator with a BA (which included science subjects, plus history and philosophy of science).

This month I’m going to make an exception, because science has been investigating religion and coming up with some results that are causing people to respond with comments like “Everyone knows that” and “That’s a gross generalisation”. To make things a little more controversial, the research has been looking at comparisons of intelligence between groups, something I was warned about often and strongly when I was studying statistics and psychology.

Before I get onto the research, however, I would like to...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.