Are Atheists Smarter Than Religious People?


Dr. Alex McFarland: Intelligence Is Necessary for Faith in the Unknown, While Apologetics Involves Deep Study Into Beliefs

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—From a school facing a lawsuit over graduation prayers to towns fighting to keep a church welcome sign, atheists from Alabama to Wisconsin are creating controversy and strife in the lives of the faithful.

Fox News columnist Todd Starnes reported on both of these stories, and now a new study from the University of Rochester and Northeastern University is creating a different kind of controversy.

Researchers for the study claim that atheists are generally smarter than religious people after statistically analyzing the combined results of 63 scientific studies on the subject, reported The Christian Post.

Religion and culture expert, national radio host and author Dr. Alex McFarland ( has debated well-known atheists and writes about the tension between belief and non-belief frequently. In fact, in his new book, “Abandoned Faith,” McFarland talks about how millennials are choosing to walk away from their faith and join the ever-growing “nones” population.

“The truth is that intelligence is very necessary when we delve deeply into our beliefs, what we know about God and the Bible and what we still aspire to know,” McFarland said. “Despite the footprint of Christianity in America, its mark on millennials is not as visible as it was with previous generations. An older generation of Christians is dying off and the newer generation’s influence is waning. And while faith may have little to do with intelligence, the belief system for the younger generation may be vastly different from their older counterparts.”

The Christian Post also reported that “the meta-analysis found that the association with either religiosity or atheism was strongest among university students because that’s a time when people are exposed to different ideas and beliefs. It said that ‘intelligent students are more likely to embrace atheism as a form of non-conformity.’”

“We’ve come to a tragic place in our society when the view is that those who shun what they cannot see or touch are given the designation of ‘intelligent,’” McFarland said. “It’s certainly true that young people are finding their own beliefs while in college, sometimes strengthening their faith and sometimes breaking away from the teachings of their parents and their churches. Leading up to writing ‘Abandoned Faith,’ my co-author and I had thousands of discussions with millennials and their parents about family struggles, friendship concerns and faith doubts. Our travels, conversations and in-depth studies have helped us discover some unfortunate truths, including the alarming fact that more than 80 percent of Christians, both young and old, are considered biblically illiterate. That means a mere 2 out of every 10 Christians know how to live, articulate and defend the Christian faith.”

The study went on to suggest that “age is a major factor in a person’s religiosity, giving the idea that as a person gets older, he/she is more reliant on emotional attachments,” according to The Christian Post.

“While a person’s aptitude does not dictate faith, Christians must be aware that they need to use their God-given intelligence to know what they believe and why they believe it,” McFarland added. “We owe it to our Savior.”

Throughout “Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home,” co-written with apologist and evangelist Jason Jimenez, McFarland explores why millennials are leaving the church, instructs how those who love millennials can bring them back, and offers the hope of Christ to parents, especially as they seek to understand what propels their adult children as they begin to come into their own.

View the media page for Alex McFarland here. For more information on Dr. Alex McFarland, visit or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @AlexMcFarland.


To book Dr. Alex McFarland for interviews or receive a review copy of “Abandoned Faith,” contact Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, ext. 104,, or Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102.

Alex McFarland

Alex has preached in over 2,200 churches throughout North America and numerous more internationally. He also speaks at Christian events, conferences, debates, and other venues to teach biblical truths and preach the gospel.

Related Posts

Alex McFarland comments on the Nashville Shooting (Fox News Article)

Stand in the Gap Today Featuring Alex McFarland

Dr. Alex McFarland a Featured Speaker at This Month’s Restored Hope Network Annual Conference

Join Our Email List!
Get a free e-book when you sign up.

Enter your email address to receive “My Relationship with God.”

"(Required)" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.