“Why Women Are Bound to Religion”

R. Elisabeth Cornwell has an interesting article online, “Why Women Are Bound to Religion: An Evolutionary Perspective.”

Women are, statistically speaking, more religious than men. Cornwell speculates that this has to do with female social conservatism, tendency to avoid risks, and higher dependence on social networks for reproductive success.

I don’t understand why the article favors women emancipating themselves from religion. The more obvious step, I would think, would be to adopt more woman-friendly forms of supernatural belief, not to drop supernatural belief entirely. Why, if women can successfully pressure religions to take a more liberal, feminist orientation, should they become more atheistic?

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03034292023591747601 PersonalFailure

    I don’t really think women can force religion into more liberal, female friendly belief structures. (Watch as the Catholic Church moves backwards in time right before our eyes.) Therefore, leaving religion seems to be the more realistic goal.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18201878060264233090 B H

    Is the “women more religious/spiritual than men” thing even a cultural universal? I’ve always assumed it was modern phenomenon.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    B H: “Is the “women more religious/spiritual than men” thing even a cultural universal? I’ve always assumed it was modern phenomenon.”

    Looking at Norris and Inglehart’s Sacred and Secular (Table 3.4), there’s data supporting this assumption.

    The percentage attending religious services once a week or more comes to 49% for both men and women in what they classify as agrarian societies, 26/22% women/men in industrial societies, and 26/18% women/men in postindustrial societies.

    It’s hard to interpret what this means, however, because these are survey-based measurement of religious participation, not belief. In Islamic societies, for example, which largely fall among the agrarian ones, I could argue that about equal participation in public, “official” services indicates higher religious commitment on the part of women. In Islamic countries, women’s religiosity is typically not public; it tends to expressed more in the home and in neighborhood women’s circles. It is not mosque-centered. So it’s possible that the survey instrument introduces a bias toward men’s forms of religiosity. And if so, then about equal numbers can mean that women are more religious even in agrarian societies. Who knows?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08161844689590563952 ecohun

    maybe better make science more female friendly.
    Whether women or men are religious the same question applies how to do or not to do anything about it.


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