[TED] Richard Dawkins: Militant atheism

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  • 15:47
    The survey that I quoted, which is the ARIS survey, didn’t break down its data by socio-economic class or education, IQ or anything else. But a recent article by Paul G. Bell in the Mensa magazine provides some straws in the wind. Mensa, as you know, is an international organization for people with very high IQ. And from a meta-analysis of the literature, Bell concludes that, I quote, “Of 43 studies carried out since 1927 on the relationship between religious belief and one’s intelligence or educational level, all but four found an inverse connection. That is, the higher one’s intelligence or educational level, the less one is likely to be religious.” Well, I haven’t seen the original 42 studies and I can’t comment on that meta-analysis but I would like to see more studies done along those lines. And I know that there are, if I could put a little plug here, there are people in this audience easily capable of financing a massive research survey to settle the question, and I put the suggestion up — for what it’s worth.
    But let me know show you some data that have been properly published and analyzed on one special group, namely, top scientists. In 1998, Larson and Witham polled the cream of American scientists, those who’d been honored by election to the National Academy of Sciences, and among this select group, belief in a personal God dropped to a shattering seven percent. About 20 percent are agnostic, and the rest could fairly be called atheists. Similar figures obtained for belief in personal immortality. Among biological scientists, the figures are even lower: 5.5 percent, only, believe in God. Physical scientists: it’s 7.5 percent. I’ve not seen corresponding figures for elite scholars in other fields, such history or philosophy, but I’d be surprised if they were different.

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