Recently, in chat, someone pointed out that there are fewer female than male Atheists.  That prompted a comment on sexual differentiation of intelligence.  I suggest that most women make the best choice for themselves and their children by opting for an 'outlook' that is not confrontational with family.

In other words, I feel that most women care less about whether or not there is a god than they do about whether or not they can maintain a harmonious relationship with their extended family.  In such a situation, what benefit would there be to adopting an Atheist stance - either psychologically or inter-personally?

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I can't quite untangle this.

A woman is more likely to decide there is a god (that is what "not being an atheist" means) because she wants to get along with her family?  How often do we discuss here how you can't simply choose to be a theist?   It's like saying "I think I will choose to believe the sky is green (when really it's blue), I'll get along with mom better that way."

Or do you mean that she's less likely to become "militant" or what I think of as a "movement atheist" or even an "out" atheist?  More likely this I should think... in other words if I understand this right, it's really about the inter-personal stance not the psychological one.


It's really about not making it a central issue in your life.  For instance, I've been rather ambivalent about the historic Jesus vs purely mythical Jesus stance - although recently I moved from strongly favouring historicity to thinking purely mythical is an option.  In the end, I'm not emotionally attached to either and don't need to be.

So what I'm saying is that many women aren't more likely to believe there is a god as they are less likely to care one way or the other, choosing instead to focus on how taking up one position or the other affects their interpersonal relationships.

If you were tightly entwined in social circles that believed the Chicago Bears had won the most Rose Bowls (I hope I have the sport/trophy correct), and you really didn't give a fuck one way or the other - what benefit would there be for you in choosing to nail down the facts of the matter?

1st paragraph... But that's my point.  You don't have to make it a central issue in your life to be an atheist.  Also, same here re Jesus.  I realize it's really only a matter of academic interest, but of course that hasn't stopped me from arguing about it,

2nd paragraph... I guess I'd mark an atheist by how they'd answer the question "do you believe in god" asked directly to them.  They might answer with something that makes it apparent that they really don't care, but they will ultimately have an opinion on the issue.  Atheism does not implicitly include a degree of "give a shit" about the question, it only includes people who answer it a certain way.  Or to put it another way, I have been an atheist all my life but have really only become one who supports the "movement" to fight against creeping theocracy in the last couple of years.

3rd paragraph.  Well you have the same sport for team and trophy... but the rose bowl is college level and the Bears are professional level.

Again you seem to really be asking "what's the benefit to railing about there being no god" rather than "what's the benefit of holding the opinion that there is no god" and none of your answers really convince me that you are properly distinguishing between the two.

Ok, let's take it back to the polls.  When the statistics are generated that say fewer women than men are Atheists - where is this data coming from?  Are people randomly selected, isolated, given assurances of discretion, and then asked whether they believe a.) there is a god, b.) there are no gods, c.) other things are more important.

If we are soliciting voluntary responses then if women are more likely to fall into (c) than (b) then we likely won't hear from them.  If we look at 'religious affiliation' then it might be interesting to note that I'm counted as a Catholic, not as an Atheist.

Generally speaking, taking no position should actually default to 'Atheist' but these days it tends to default to 'theist' as 'Atheist' is the more socially significant claim - even though, ironically, it is the lack of a claim.

I don't know if it answers your question about where the data is coming from, but I found this in the study Sex and Secularism, page 3:

All of the people in our survey were 18 years or older. The participant pool was 69.4% male and 29.7% female with .2% intersexed and .7% answering “other.” Extra effort was made to contact more females and people in the LGBT community, as they are typically underrepresented in the secular population. Sexuality and religious upbringing were also areas we were interested in examining.
The 2008 ARIS survey reported that those reporting “no religion” had a gender gap of 60% men and 40% women.
Of course, many of these may not classify themselves as atheist, agnostic or even secular. Data from other sources shows that the
sex ratio of the general secular community is about 21 - 25% female.
The gender gap we see is similar to those found in national research and from other sources. For further comparison, we  acquired gender distribution statistics from the social website for atheists and other secularists, Atheist Nexus. A/N has 32% female and 68% male. Statistics on our YouTube site with almost 70,000 view s, shows a distribution of 20% female, 80% male. At 29.7%, it appears that the gender distribution in this study is similar to other sources.

I find it interesting that although 'extra effort was made to contact more females...' that the sample was only 29.7% female.  Where were they doing the survey?  Outside the YMCA?

I'll just skip anything citing 'other sources'.

Obviously membership in an online community is not a passive position at all.  Youtube, which has an extremely eclectic population, is cited as being 80% male.

As I was suggesting, if you really don't feel strongly one way or the other these days, you tend to get lumped in with Christians.

I would be interested in the result of a survey that asked people, anonymously, whether or not they believed Jesus was the Almighty God of the Universe. (allowing for Yes, No, and "I've not really given it much thought").

Heather is right, this is useless.  (We agree on that much!)

These were self-selecting samples, people who signed on to atheist boards and the like.  All that it proves is that men are more likely to profess atheism publicly enough to join boards, etc.  It doesn't tell one what people actually believe, which is different from whether they choose to express it and how.

Something more like the Pew study (the one that was overhyped by us as pointing to 19% "None", though the first thing that turned up in google is one with 16% ) where the participants don't choose themselves would be better.  They were trying to get "religion" reads on everyone, not just members of an atheist community.  And I am pretty sure they assured confidentiality.

It also reported a sex differential in their "no affiliation" column, on that page, and drilling down a bit, you will see a 70-30 split for "Atheist", 64-36 for "Agnostic" and 60-40 for "Secular unaffiliated".  Now how much of this is still reluctance to disclose even to a pollster who is a stranger, and how much of this is actually a difference in real belief, is another question, one that really can't be answered by a poll.  There is a 52-48 sex split for "religious unaffiliated," but it's hard to tell what that means, really; I doubt, though that it could include atheists who go to Unitarian churches (a not terribly uncommon phenomenon) because I would think those would be somehow "affiliated"

You're hitting the nail right on the head Steve.  What, exactly, is 'no affiliation'.  Lot's of Atheists like to cite the fact that prison inmates are 99.8% theists - when I feel that it would be more likely to say they are 99.8% religious affiliated.  I highly doubt they all really believe in gods - but it's good for the parole board, good for extra time out of your cell, and a good place to 'network'.

The benefits of affiliation are very tangible.  The benefits of beliefs, well, not so much.

(As an aside, your name sounds Turkish?)

In the US the simple word "atheist" has enough of a negative connotation that people who will make claims about their beliefs that match the definition (i.e., not believing in a god or gods) will still refuse to answer "yes" to "are you an atheist?"

Perhaps that's what Belle is getting at.

Yes, Rose - I was suggesting that there is less tangible benefit to them from any particular philosophical stand point than there is from affiliation with family.

I agree

@Belle Rose

1.) How can she be emotionally influenced by a belief that she does not sincerely hold?

2.) How would she be tangled in cognitive dissonance in a belief to which she is not particularly attached?

3.) How does co-dependance even enter into this?

4.) How would critical thinking be affected?

You know, I'm just going to stop here because I think you've missed the entire point.  I'm not saying the average woman would pin her life on Christian theology - just that she could avoid a lot of conflict by not rejecting it.  Again, it's not about 'being right', it's about maintaining a social support network that she is far more likely to need than the average male.


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