I believe Primitive Man created (and evolved) the gods from their "Original Ignorance" to explain how anything happened. Ancient Man (with the aid of the written word) created and disseminated religions to try to bring some explanation and control over the dirt-ignorant masses. The religions that took hold through conquest and the false promise of eternal life in utopia are what we're basically still stuck with today. It amazes me how rational people today will believe some ignorant, superstitious cave-dweller from 2000+ years ago over the evidence and knowledge we've gained and verified in the last 500 years.

It is in this context I am trying to find some studies, charts, graphs, etc... that show the history of Man's relative IQ. In other words, if you take a Stone/Iron/Bronze Age Man and sit him down and take an IQ test today, how would he do? My 7 year old daughter knows the moon goes around the earth and the earth goes around the sun. She also believes in Santa and the tooth fairy. If she conjoured up a religion, would a billion people follow her?

If "rational" people would just realize they believe in basically the intelligence of the of a 7 year old (or less), maybe they would come to the conclusion it's all baloney. If anyone can point me to some data on mankind's relative intelligence over time (or knowledge base), I will greatly appreciate it.

Thanks,
Dave

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I do agree with you that religious belief could have started as a way to explain what we did not understand. I wouldn't be looking at IQ however as a method (besides I don't really believe in one standard measure of intelligence), I would be looking at accumulated knowledge as the key rather.

Scientifically speaking as I understand it these days there is little difference between Humans now and Humans 100,000 years ago genetically speaking. In fact if what I have been reading/watching turns out to be verified our current Human species actually almost became extinct and at one point the total human population worldwide was under 10000 and might have been as low as a 1000. As a result there is very little diversity in our DNA compared to some other species. Also there has also been evidence via archeology that our brains have the same size and supposedly the same capabilities as we did back then. Humans have been what we are brain wise for 10s of thousands of years. Their intelligence was the equal of ours, but their knowledge base was a minuscule faction of what the human race has today. Whats really different in my opinion is that the knowledge at some point was able to be preserved and passed on, through language and then through other mediums. Personally I wouldn't be all that surprised if it proved out one day that language and religious belief were tied closely together, and developed along side each other.
I do agree the Ancient Men who created these belief systems were probably the most intelligent people during that time and their knowledge base was miniscule compared to ours today. But they were basically feeding it to a population that didn't have the intelligence a 5 year kid does today. It made as much sense to them as it does a 5 year old today. It's the adults today who would take the word of a relatively ignorant desert dweller from 2000 years ago instead of a scientist today. To me, this is the message that needs to be pounded into the overabundant gullible fools who populate this planet today.
I believe your making a mistake here...

These people they were feeding to were not collectively anymore stupid then we are now. It might have made as much sense to them as it would to a 5 year old (which I am not sure about) but that doesn't mean that their intelligence was locked into that level. Its not like there were 1 or 2 people running around with 200 IQ's and everyone else was in the 30's. IQ =/= General Intelligence

If you were able to go back in time and steal a baby from 50'000 years ago and raise him as your own today according to modern theory you would not be able to tell that child from anyone else born today.

Now I might be missing your point on that one.

However I do kind of see your second point which I see as the bigger question.. of why when we as a society quickly dismiss Santa Claus and the easter bunny as fairy tales, but others who seem as intelligent as the next person, cling to something that is as fictional as those other two characters.
I think you're missing my point. Let's say you plucked the 10 "smartest" people from 2000 years ago and the 10 smartest scientists from today and put them in the same room and have them take the SAT's, IQ tests, PE exams, etc..., the smartest people from today will blow away the people from the past. (I agree if you spent the time and educated the people from the past, they could do well too.) My whole point is that, as atheists, we need to come up with different sound arguments to convince rational people their beliefs systems are baseless from different angles. This angle is based on the incredible ignorance of the people that developed these belief systems in the first place 1000's of years ago.
This is statement that I took issue with...

"But they were basically feeding it to a population that didn't have the intelligence a 5 year kid does today."

It seems to be poorly worded in the case of what your trying to get across. It also appears to be a fallacy as I see it and if it is an idea that underpins your ideas you might want to rethink the wording. The people were as intelligent back then as we are today (which you acknowledge) but their knowledge base (ie ignorance which is I feel a incorrect word as well) was much more limited. They might not have had the basic knowledge that we give to a 5 year old today, but that doesn't mean that they were only as smart as said 5 year old.

Knowledge and Intelligence go hand and hand but they are not exclusively tied to each other, in that one is not a direct reflection of the other.
Hi, I'm new here I hope you don't mind me jumping in!

I'm sure your right in the sense that people in the past as well as now tend to invent things to fill in gaps of their knowledge. Especially when the gap is something that can be worrisome. I also agree that IQ is not the way to go in understanding this though as a lot of perfectly intelligent people have religion.
The problem in part is, as JayBarti points out, that there are many different forms of intelligence. Someone who scores very high in logic tests can often be completely useless when it comes to getting what they want in life. Emotional Intelligence is also a completely separate subject.

Also I would observe that there are many more people with religion in the world (especially in America) than there were in the distant past even though by comparison they are much more highly educated.
The way I would look at it is to view religion as an emotional support system that helps to take away the day to day fears of the believers. To give themselves over to god is to reduce stress and not feel responsible for everything that happens to them. People who are able to remove fear and worry generally live longer and do better than those who can't. Also religion provides an institutionalized mechanism for connecting with other people in a safe and non-threatening environment, another proven activity that improves the quality of life and actually prolongs life.

I just read "How We Decide" by Jonah Lehrer, http://xrl.in/2l2k this is a data driven book that examines the learning of a number of scientific studies that have taken place over the last 5-10 years. The results are amazing, for example a short quote: "Half of the subjects involved in the experiment were regular church goers and half were committed atheists. Brock and Balloun played a tape-recorded message attacking Christianity, and, to make the experiment more interesting, they added an annoying amount of static -- a crackle of white noise -- to the recording. However the listener could reduce the static by pressing a button, at which point the message suddenly became easier to understand. The results were utterly predictable and rather depressing; the non-believers always tried to remove the static, while the religious subjects actually preferred the message that was harder to hear. Later experiments by Brock and Balloun that had smokers listening to a speech on the link between smoking and cancer demonstrated a similar effect." There's a lot of amazing stuff like that in the book, makes you see people differently...

Anyhow it's a sad truth that the way the brain works is that people (the vast majority) will often make their mind up about what they consider to be true based on their emotional biases, then rationalize that belief. Most people will often "rationalize" rather than always think rationally...
Hi, I'm new here I hope you don't mind me jumping in!

I'm sure your right in the sense that people in the past as well as now tend to invent things to fill in gaps of their knowledge. Especially when the gap is something that can be worrisome. I also agree that IQ is not the way to go in understanding this though as a lot of perfectly intelligent people have religion.
The problem in part is, as JayBarti points out, that there are many different forms of intelligence. Someone who scores very high in logic tests can often be completely useless when it comes to getting what they want in life. Emotional Intelligence is also a completely separate subject.

Also I would observe that there are many more people with religion in the world (especially in America) than there were in the distant past even though by comparison they are much more highly educated.
The way I would look at it is to view religion as an emotional support system that helps to take away the day to day fears of the believers. To give themselves over to god is to reduce stress and not feel responsible for everything that happens to them. People who are able to remove fear and worry generally live longer and do better than those who can't. Also religion provides an institutionalized mechanism for connecting with other people in a safe and non-threatening environment, another proven activity that improves the quality of life and actually prolongs life.

I just read "How We Decide"by Jonah Lehrer, http://xrl.in/2l2k this is a data driven book that examines the learning of a number of scientific studies that have taken place over the last 5-10 years. The results are amazing, for example a short quote: "Half of the subjects involved in the experiment were regular church goers and half were committed atheists. Brock and Balloun played a tape-recorded message attacking Christianity, and, to make the experiment more interesting, they added an annoying amount of static -- a crackle of white noise -- to the recording. However the listener could reduce the static by pressing a button, at which point the message suddenly became easier to understand. The results were utterly predictable and rather depressing; the non-believers always tried to remove the static, while the religious subjects actually preferred the message that was harder to hear. Later experiments by Brock and Balloun that had smokers listening to a speech on the link between smoking and cancer demonstrated a similar effect." There's a lot of amazing stuff like that in the book, makes you see people differently...

Anyhow it's a sad truth that the way the brain works is that people (the vast majority) will often make their mind up about what they consider to be true based on their emotional biases, then rationalize that belief. Most people will often "rationalize" rather than always think rationally...
It takes alot of ration/reason/reality to counter someone's beliefs based on their emotions. However, as atheists, we need to develop the best arguments to convince these folks out of their delusion. I believe the advancement of our species is dependent on shedding these Stone Age beliefs in the boogie man in the sky. Particularly the eradication of the sick fantasy of global genicide of End Timers. When 22 to 44% of Americans believe that this twisted group suicide is coming soon, it makes me somewhat concerned for my kids' future (and mine).
I agree with your points, yes it is important to make rational arguments and understand how irrational the religious thought process is. The point above about Santa vs. god is well made, how is it possible to rationally believe in one and not the other?

However when was the last time you converted a religious person with “faith” to atheism?

How amenable to rational argument, evidence and empirical data have you found the religious?

I think it’s important to understand the issue, the real problem, the motivation of those with religious “faith”. When atheists argue the existence of god they are attacking the religious persons emotional support system AND not offering an alternative (emotional support system). Rational arguments are often meaningless to the religious. You want to develop more? There are endless arguments already; it’s a bit like spraying a garden hose in a rain storm. If the rain does not get the plant to grow the extra water is unlikely to make a difference.

We need to understand why and how people get caught up in religious beliefs.

The religious person who can perform the mental trick of believing that everything will be okay because there is a God and that there is a plan for them and that they are being looked after and who can also connect with others of similar beliefs through their churches will often reduce stress and do better as a result. Not to mention the benefits of lots of local and personal connections.

The problem is that although religions are just superstitions they work… They work at the level of producing real benefits for the believers and they feel good.

It may therefore be the case that before religious belief can be effectively countered something needs to replace them. Something that addresses this core emotional human need to feel reassured, safe, loved and which formalizes a mechanism of local connections.
Something you have to take into account is the knowledge base of humans in the stone age compared to now and the differences in their lives.
IQ wouldn't be so different, stoneage man probably spent most of his/her day foraging and hunting for food. Whereas today we spend our days going to work earning money to spend on food.
If we take Bear Grills or any other survivalist, look at what they need to do to survive, it's possible but only with fieldcraft.

Stoneage knowledge would be made up entirely of making fires, mating, hunting. The rest like, what are stars and what is that big bright disc in the sky etc etc could only be guessed at until civilisation dawned.

With civilisation comes further knowledge, but you still can't explain the stars, moon plants, life etc.
So I would reckon that's when religion reared it's first ugly head.
I think the similarities across all religions go some way to showing this is what happened.

Richard Dawkins goes some way to explaining this when he says the human brain is geared up for believing in a deity. Anything you can't explain doesn't matter, god did it and that's that.

Chris P.
You make an interesting point here...

Their general intelligence was directed in other ways, survival for one.

Think its hard to go all day without food now, think about our ancestors on the savanna, wondering not when to eat, but if they will be able to eat say tomorrow. Most of that wonderful brain was probably directed towards more important things then figuring out what 1x1 is or the real reason the sun comes up. Frankly if I was living back then, the sun would be an easy figure of worship and chalk full of supernatural power. From there its very easy to start personalizing the experience and making it more then just a ball of fire.
I think you could look at primitive tribes today living in rain forests and the like. They are probably similar to your hypothetical "primitive man"? Typically people living in these cultures have plenty of leisure time, rich social lives are very intelligent and very in-touch (knowledgeable regarding their environment) so much so that they can often survive in conditions and on resources that would kill a typical "civilized" man. Typically they all have some kind of creation myth through.

Do they understand Marketing, or Quantum Mechanics, no, but then :) Joe average today doesn't either. How many people today really understand how a internal combustion engine works?

If one argues that being able to survive and do well in ones native environment is an indicator of intelligence then what does that say for the homeless and people on social security or people unable to pay their medical bills? That they are less intelligent than primitive man?

If anything I think religion tends to increase in complexity and become a larger contradiction in modern times. After all one can argue that the "primitive" didn't know any better, what makes the sun shine etc. Today we do know these things, yet people still believe, what's their excuse?

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