Atheists Have Best Sex Lives, Claims Psychologist


Kansas Researchers Worried About Aspects of Survey

Rays' respondents were predominantly highly educated and affluent. They included hetero, same-sex and intersex couples. In the first day, he received 2,500 online responses.

"I was blown away," he said. "People wanted to tell us their life story. This is not just about sex, it's about emotions."

"His results make a lot of sense -- why people who are religious emphasize guilt in sexual behaviors," said Tara Collins, president of a multidisciplinary group of researchers at Kansas University's psychology department, who gave Ray feedback after he presented his survey results.

Collins and others were impressed, but they did express concern about his causal statements and urged him to make some modifications. Ray, she noted, had not looked at the satisfaction level of those who continued to practice their faith.

His research will not be published by an academic institution because it has not been peer-reviewed.

But, Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of two books on the subject of sexual behavior in adolescence and young adulthood, said Ray used unscientific methods.

"It appears that it was a 'fill it out if you want to' kind of survey that is not random, not nationally representative, and relies entirely on self-selection," he said. "In other words, they have data from people who felt like filling out a survey on atheism and sex. As a result, I am not surprised at their findings."

Regnerus, in his book, "Forbidden Fruit," said he had found a connection between religiosity and anticipated guilt among teens who had never had sex.

"Otherwise, most of what we know about this is hearsay or guesswork," he said.

He also said Ray was not an "established" researcher at a university, where most studies of this kind are carried out. "I don't fault the author for running the survey he did, but it does display research methods which do not meet the standards of most published social science."

Ray admits the study was self-selective. "I can't even imagine any research that is not self-selecting," he said. "Kinsey was self-selecting. They may make stabs and efforts at randomness, but it's hard to get that with sex."

He said that in addition to sexual satisfaction, he survey concluded that religiously conservative parents were perceived to be less effective at sex education.

One of the biggest surprises in Ray's research was that people are not "plagued with guilt" long after they leave their earlier religious beliefs.

"We just couldn't find evidence for that," he said. "Not to say that some people aren't, but statistically, people get on with their sex lives and have a lot of fun. They don't wish Jesus back in the bedroom. And it doesn't matter if they are Mormon or Muslim or Pentecostal when God is watching."

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