ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Are women more religious than men?

In my family I think it is safe to say the men are more irreligious than women: I am an atheist and my father is more or less an agnostic. On the other hand, my mom and sister are much more spiritual if not Christian. No one case study is ever evidence enough, but luckily a fully study has recently come out that suggests very much of the same.

In this study it is found that the number of nonbelievers that are male is skyrocketing while the number of women who are nonbelievers is holding back. Why the gender difference in faith? What makes these findings even more interesting is that all faiths favor men as not a single religion is headed by a women. The hierarchy in all religions is decidedly sexist.

As one researcher put it, "Belief relates more to how a person relates, interprets, and reconstructs the experience." It was found that when men and women had the same response on the brain it were the women that had a greater tendency to attribute it to an "out of body experience." This has led some researchers to conclude women are hardwired to believe. It has been hypothesized that the superficial kinship that religion provides might be more advantageous to a woman's reproductive needs. This would coincide with Michael Shermer's study where he found women to relate to belief with more emotional terms. In contrast, men relate to belief with more rational terms. For example, women feel an emotional connection to their god, thereby creating an emotional justification for its existence. Men justify a belief in god using logic such as "without a god there is no order or reason for living."

So, is this study sexist or accurate in your eyes?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, what you're saying does seem slightly sexist. However, I would have to agree with you that women do seem to be more religious then men (and this is coming from a woman). But, and unfortunately I can't remember where I read the original theory, someone hypothesized that minorities who had been oppressed were more likely to be religious, as it gave them a sense of community. I believe the original post had to do with the higher number of Caucasian atheists then African-American or Hispanic atheists, but I think that that also gives a good explanation for why there are more male then female atheists. I also think that most differences between men and women are the results of centuries of women being oppressed and considered "weaker" and more "illogical" then men.