With this in mind, it is worth noting that consciousness and intelligence are not synonymous. Nor interchangeable. Though consciousness and intelligence can and do influence each other significantly, it is wrong to assume they are the same.
Intelligence is functional, while consciousness is awareness. Put another way, intelligence is doing, while consciousness is being.
Standard definitions cite intelligence as the ability to reason, solve problems, and manipulate one’s environment. Consciousness, on the other hand, is far more difficult to describe. It is meta-level intelligence. It is self-awareness comprising what philosophers refer to as qualia and intentionality.
From another perspective, you could say intelligence addresses the physical, while consciousness addresses the metaphysical. Physical is primarily this-worldly, while consciousness bridges the gap between this world and the next.
From a religious/spiritual perspective, I have often characterized consciousness as how people become aware of, know, understand, and relate to God, themselves, others, and the world. I believe consciousness has changed (evolved) through time. Moreover, I believe the evolution of consciousness is a vital aspect of God’s Divine Plan for humanity, which is not contingent upon increased or decreased levels of intelligence in the general population.
I believe God yearns for us to “know” Him, ourselves, others, and the world better. However, the better “knowing” God desires depends more on deepened awareness than heightened reason and intelligence.
Simply put, I believe God desires that we make the shift from “thinking from doing” to “thinking from being” so that we can “know” directly from being rather than from “doing.”
Spiritual awareness forms the core of “thinking from being”. Hence, “thinking from being” is essentially “thinking from spirit”, which I would describe as a fundamental, individually-discovered intuitive understanding of ourselves, others, the world, and God as Beings in Creation coupled with the subsequent transformation such a shift in thinking should induce.
In the third chapter of the Fourth Gospel, Jesus draws a sharp distinction between “thinking from being (Spirit)” and “thinking from doing (intelligence)” in his conversation with Nicodemus.
After Nicodemus affirms that he knows Jesus to be a teacher sent from God, Jesus informs the high-status, highly-learned and intelligent “ruler of the Jews” that only men born again can see the Kingdom of God.
The declaration baffles Nicodemus, and he solves the “problem” using his intelligence – thinking by doing – by flatly stating that an old man cannot simply crawl back into his mother’s womb and be reborn. Jesus responds to this example of “intelligent” thinking by saying that only a man born of water and Spirit can enter the Kingdom of God.
Water appears as a symbol of God's wisdom throughout the Old Testament. Jesus acknowledges the necessity of hearing and understanding this wisdom but underscores that this alone no longer suffices. Something more is needed - something emanating from a resurrected awareness rather than from intelligence. Jesus tries several times to make Nicodemus “aware” of the necessity of this awareness, of “thinking from being” via a shift in consciousness, but to no avail.
When Jesus realizes he cannot free Nicodemus from the level of funtional intelligence – that he cannot communicate the new understanding of man’s relationship with God – he takes a little stab at the revered Pharisee by asking how a great teacher of Israel could remain ignorant of the need for spiritual rebirth via thinking from being rather than from doing.
To sum up, increases or decreases in intelligence have little bearing on the evolution of consciousness. On the contrary, the example of Nicodemus illustrates that a learned spiritual intelligence firmly fixated on “thinking from doing” can serve to hinder the evolution/development of consciousness and dampen our awareness of eternal life in Heaven.