In my most recent posting on women and religion, I raised the baffling question of why women are more religious than men. Astoundingly, many readers seem to think they know the answer: women must be stupider than men. They cite “studies” indicating that there is a correlation between atheism and a high IQ. These studies are nonexistent, except in the fantasies of those atheists (a minority, I am sure) who, ironically, need to bolster their high opinion of themselves with junk science.
One of the most disheartening characteristics of the blogosphere is the opportunity it offers for people to spout all sorts of nonsense not subject to the fact-checking process of traditional print publications.
What does exist is a considerable body of research correlating low levels of education with religious fundamentalism and biblical literalism, and higher education with skepticism about religion. Two-thirds of college graduates, compared with only a third of high school graduates, believe in some form of evolution. This does not mean that college graduates are more intelligent than high school graduates: it simply means that college graduates have (one hopes) taken a few more science classes. Many public opinion surveys dealing with these issues can be found on the website of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, www.pewforum.org.
Religions that have treated women most harshly have also greatly restricted educational opportunities for women, and it makes sense that women who have had the least opportunity for exposure to secular knowledge would be most likely to believe not only in traditional, restrictive forms of religion but in such psuedosciences as astrology.
Also, religion has always found its most devoted adherents among people who have miserable lives in this world. If you life consists of being smothered by a heavy veil, while being denied schooling and access to a wider world, it’s not surprising that you would hope for something better in the next world.