I spent some time browsing through OKCupid as randomly as I could, looking at profiles of women who had answered the question about whether or not they would date an atheist. As you would expect from a largely Christian society, “No” is the usual response. This kind of thinking might be misguided.
Satoshi Kanazawa, at the London School of Economics and Political Science, has released a study indicating that for males, atheism correlates significantly to IQ and sexual exclusivity. In other words, an atheist boyfriend or husband is less likely to cheat on you.
The reasoning goes something like this: For most of human history, exclusivity hasn’t made much sense to men. In fact, the opposite is true. The men who impregnated the most women, either openly or covertly, won the genetic lottery. In fact, the same is true today, but we are in a rather unique position as humans. This is the first era in which scientific knowledge of human behavior is widespread, detailed, and easily accessible. The smarter the man, the more likely he is to understand why he wants to cheat, and to decide that it’s not in his best interests in the long term. The article didn’t mention it, but presumably, the smarter the man, the more likely he is to have figured out how women think, which means he is better able to keep a wife happy, which in turn will make the wife more likely to keep him happy.
With regard to religion, it works like this: Religion in itself isn’t especially helpful to human society, but it does encourage paranoia, which is helpful for survival. Humans who see ghosts in the wind and the hand of god in the clouds are afraid, and fear is a great way to stay alive. It’s not especially good for enlightened self-actualization, but through most of human history, that was the last thing that most men had to worry about.
In today’s society, very intelligent men have the opportunity to do push the envelope in lots of ways. They can think outside the box and approach life without having to be a beefed up bruiser who gets by with his fists. They can approach life without the need for dogma and religious fear, since they are presumably smart enough to make informed, intelligent decisions about risk and reward.
I think we’ve all seen this by now, right?
It’s no secret that the GOP might as well be called The Jesus Party. It’s awfully telling that not a single state with an average IQ above 100 went red. It really is too bad that atheists are so vilified, and that so many people think we’re morally bankrupt. It seems like every new study on moral behavior that comes out demonstrates the opposite. Atheists really are more moral.
It’s interesting to me that this correlation only applied to men. Why aren’t smarter women more likely to be atheists? Why aren’t they more faithful? I’m honestly not sure about atheism, but the reason they’re not more faithful as they get more intelligent is that for women, it’s always been advantageous to try to get one man. The consequences of discovered infidelity have always been there, and they’ve always been high. (They are admittedly lower today than they have probably ever been, but there hasn’t been nearly enough evolutionary time for this to change the hardwiring.)
What it boils down to is that for men, fidelity is a counter-intuitive and counter-biological behavior. It takes a certain amount of intellectual power to realize this and then work out the complex social equation that it will be in their best long-term interest to go against their drives.
So in an interesting twist, intelligence tends to cause both fidelity and atheism. Just to be pedantic, let me make this very clear. Atheism doesn’t lead to fidelity. Intelligence does, and it also happens to lead to atheism, once again proving that we don’t need God to be moral, and that belief in God doesn’t particularly help the faithful be any more moral than atheists.