Atheists do it better. That's the assertion of a new survey, "Sex and Secularism," by Darrel Ray, author of The God Virus: How God Infects Our Lives and Culture. The online study of 14,500 former believers found that once those surveyed left their churches, their sex lives got better. Plenty of skeptics are questioning Ray's research methods, and his underlying assumptions. Do atheists really have better sex?
These broad conclusions sound bogus: "As easy as it may seem to force people into these two black or white categories — religious = prude, atheist = sexually liberated — something about this study just doesn't fully ring true," says Maressa Brown at The Stir. I know devout people of various faiths "who have stellar sex lives with absolutely no guilt." I've even heard of pastors encouraging their married congregants to have more sex. I think it's possible to have a great sex life no matter what your religious beliefs, or lack thereof.
"Lose religion, gain hot sex: Do atheists 'do it' best?"
And the research is flawed: These findings should be taken with a grain of salt, says Mark Regnerus, a University of Texas associate professor of sociology, as quoted by ABC News. Only those who felt like filling out a questionnaire on sex and atheism took the survey, which leads to a skewed sample. Ray is not an "established" researcher, and his methods would certainly "not meet the standards of most published social science."
"Atheists have best sex lives, claims psychologist"
But the subject matter is worthwhile: "This study may have major limitations, but it did get me thinking more about how religious belief influences sexual experience," says Tracy Clark-Floyd at Salon. It's interesting to note how religion affects a person's willingness to share sexual fantasies, and how growing up in a religious home can make for greater sexual guilt. But perhaps the most "surprising tidbit" is that no matter what kind of sexual guilt we experience, the actual sexual behavior amongst believers and non-believers isn't all that different.
"Do atheists have better sex?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: October 22, 2014
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Secret Service stretched mission to protect employee, report finds
- 5 baffling foreign-language versions of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song
- How to make corn dogs
Subscribe to the Week