A study claiming that liberals and Atheists are "more intelligent" than religious believers is causing a buzz in the news media and academic circles.
Authored by Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics, the study claims that "more intelligent individuals may be more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences (such as liberalism and atheism...) than less intelligent individuals."
Fellow academics are saying that Kanazawa's research and conclusions are flawed.
And now, some Atheists agree and are speaking out.
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said that "intelligence" -- especially as reflected by so-called IQ tests -- can be difficult to define and quantify. "There are often cultural, ethnic, and even sexual biases at work here, and a good case can be made that there are actually many different kinds of intelligence," said Buckner. "Something like 'intelligence' has to be understood in a very broad context, and Dr. Kanazawa seems not to have given that sufficient consideration."
"We have never said that Atheists or other non-believers are inherently 'superior' or 'smarter' than religious people, even though we do assert that logic and evidence are on our side regarding our conclusions.
Questions about religious beliefs and whether 'god' exists should be discussed and argued based on the best evidence."
Buckner also noted that members of American Atheists vary considerably regarding political philosophies, saying that "liberals, libertarians, conservatives, and other (less orthodox) categories can all be found
among our members and leaders." He added that a Catholic or Muslim with an IQ score higher than a random non-believer, for instance, does not constitute any special evidence regarding claims any of them might make.
"And we're totally against Atheists suddenly telling the world, 'Hey, look at us, we're right because we're bright!' "
Kathleen Johnson, Vice President for American Atheists, said that she prefers to suggest that all or at least most Americans can, with sufficient reasoning, understand the need to question religion.
"There are all kinds of Atheists, just as there are all kinds of believers," said Johnson. "We advocate a polite, courteous, and 'spirited' exchange of views, and we encourage everyone -- Atheist and religious alike -- to exercise their First Amendment rights by expressing their opinions in a constitutional manner in the public square. We can win in the marketplace of ideas without invidious comparisons or pointless insults aimed at those with whom we differ."