atheism and intelligence: is there a link?

No. Judging by the latest statistics by Pew (a reputable, unbiased source for this kind of information), there is no link, not in America at least (I didn't look into other countries yet). I'm not saying atheists are dumb by any means, far from it (I would guess that minorities who have to defend intellectual positions tend to be smarter than normal actually). But, let's be clear here: it would be flat out incorrect to say that smart people tend to be atheists. Not even close.

The Numbers

What if we filled an auditorium will all the very smart people who have attained post-graduate degrees? What percentage of those people, do you think, would be atheists? The answer is 3%. Of all the really smart people, only 3% are atheists. 68% would be Christian, 6% Jewish, 2% Buddhist, 2% Hindu, 1% Muslim. 5% are agnostic and 8% are "secular unaffiliated". So a fairly religious bunch of people (over 80%). Now, let's imagine a room of people who are smart but slightly less smart. What if we filled an auditorium will all the smart people who have graduated college? What percentage of those people, do you think, would be atheists? The answer is only 2%; even less atheistic, a little more Christian but less Jewish. Again, a fairly religious bunch of people (over 80%).
source: http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-chapter-3.pdf
So the point is fairly clear: the link between intelligence and atheism, although talked about by some people, is really not there. In getting smarter, we do not lose God. To make a connection, to even start the conversation you simply need more atheists to begin with. Out of all the people in America, only 2% are atheist. That's such a small number, it's hard to really say anything about it. However, you could say, perhaps, that people who happen to be atheists also happen to be smart. In other words, you could analyze the small group internally to find out more about it. So you could say "atheist people tend to be smart," but you cannot flip that around: "smart people tend to be atheist"--that's clearly not true. We are talking about 2% of the population here! Obviously there are tons more smart people who are religious (shown above), so that's really not an argument that atheism wants to make (unless they want to be very elitist and arrogant and claim that 98% of Americans are really dumb, even all the ones with degrees). 

What about You?

Do you fall in line with these statistics? Or do they not match for you? As for me, they do match. I have a Master's degree and consider myself a Christian. So I'm part of the 68%. If you do not match, either you are weird or not a real American. Just kidding. ha. 

Of course, all these statistics do not speak to the deeper truth that "religion," "Christianity," and "atheism" are all very complex things, complex ideas. Like people, they really cannot be pinned down without the category bursting at some point. What's in a label? Sure, I'm "religious" I suppose (in my heart, attitude, mindset); but I don't go to church. Sure, I'm "Christian," but I don't believe in the Trinity doctrine. You get the point.

There are so many other fascinating statistics and trends when it comes to religion. Another time.

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