This is interesting: a new study done by Trinity College confirmed that more women than men believe in God. In a survey of Americans who claim to be unaffiliated with any religion, 19 percent of men were nonbelievers while only 12 percent of women were. These stats are particularly ironic because, historically, major religions have not been, err, particularly kind or accommodating to women, not to mention the huge elephant in the room — that many major religions don’t have female leaders. So what gives? Why are the ladies more committed to God in spite of the obvious lack of preferential treatment?Researchers have offered lots of theories. Some say the chemistry of the female brain is more likely to label an experience as “divine.” As in a man and woman both see the same cloud in the sky, but a woman is more likely to see the Virgin Mary in said cloud. Or there’s the theory that women are hardwired to believe in God for the evolutionary good of the species. Belief in God has always been interconnected with tribal ritual, and women relied on these communities for the survival of their children while men were off killing dinner. Evolutionary psychologist Elisabeth Cornwell explains, “Religion creates the illusion of kinship, and kinship is crucial to a woman’s reproductive success.” But what if we’re not that into our “reproductive success”? Maybe, then, it’s just our psyches. Michael Shermer, the author of How We Believe, found that women explain their belief in “emotional” terms while men express a “rational” basis for faith. He says that he chalks up the greater number of male nonbelievers to the fact that “it’s a guy thing to obsess about the empirical nature of the world.” I guess that would make it a lady thing to obsess over the theoretical? And our friend God is nothing if not theoretical.
My theory? (See my female psyche hard at work here.) Women need to be able to believe in God so that we can deal with men. After all, we must have faith that someday the two sexes will find a way to live in peace and harmony. Please help us, God. [Double X]