Why are women typically more religious than men?
There are some really dodgy theories about sex chromosomes and their influence on human behaviour, but this one shocked me on account of the source and context. I was listening to the Christmas Eve edition of the Infinite Monkey Cage, which was a really good episode and had three guests I'd turn on the radio for - Mark Gatiss, Richard Wiseman and Steve Jones (of the snail fame). Their other guest was Victor Stock, the former Dean of Guildford Cathedral, who was rather brilliant.
But the great Steve Jones was talking about the evolutionary psychology of religion and came out with the following;
"Universally, worldwide, it's always been the case that those who are crippled and afflicted by having a Y chromosome - that's all of us on this platform - are less religious, and less willing to accept religion that women who don't have a Y chromosome. It's very hard not to argue that there's not some kind of biology there. We may not know exactly what it is, but biology is in there somewhere."He then goes on to explain that people on the autistic spectrum are much less likely to be religious, which must, he feels, have a biological explanation. I'm sure someone else can clear that one up.
Of course, the important phrase is "in there somewhere", but does it have to be? It may be that biology does play some role in religiosity, but before the end of the programme, I had thought of a number of reasons why women may exhibit greater religiosity than men. And I think only someone living in the West could possibly assert that biology must play a role. So...
The Possible Reasons Why Women Would Be Typically More Religious Than Men
as came into my head in the space of five minutes - okay, it took longer to write down!
I think there are probably other ways that religions allow women, who often live in circumstances of very little power, to have some power, even if they're very rarely the ones in charge. Even in ancient Athens, which was an extraordinarily sexist place, the city cult was headed by a massively powerful priestess.
None of this means that biology has nothing to do with religiosity, but as is almost always the case with the claims of evolutionary biology around gender, there are other more obvious explanations that need exploring first.