Sociologists have long known that there are more religious women than men. Professor Rodney Stark thinks we should not ask why women are more religious, but why men are less interested in religion. “When you turn the question around it starts to get us somewhere and the evidence pretty strongly points to physiology, not socialization,” he says. He says some men are shortsighted and don’t think ahead, and so “going to prison or going to hell just doesn’t matter to these men.”

Stark sees the lower rates of male religiousness as form of risk-taking behavior, just like criminality, and it’s knownthat men are far more likely to commit crimes than women. “Any phenomenon that occurs in many and very different social and cultural settings necessitates explanations that are equally general, which tends to rule out most social and cultural factors,” he says. “Recent studies of biochemistry imply that both male irreligiousness and male lawlessness are rooted in the fact that far more males than females have an underdeveloped ability to inhibit their impulses, especially those involving immediate gratification and thrills.”

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