Survey Finds Major Gender Divide in Religious Beliefs in UK: Most Men in 40s Are Atheists, But Twice More Women Believe in God

A survey has found there is a significant gender divide when it comes to religious beliefs in Britain. While 54 percent of men in their 40s said they were either atheists or agnostics, women were twice more likely to believe in God and life after death.

(Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville)Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams leads the Easter Day Eucharist service at Canterbury Cathedral in in Canterbury in south east England April 4, 2010.

"Among believers, women are also much more likely to be definite than men, and among non-believers, men are much more likely to be definite than women," said David Voas, professor of population studies at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.

The study was published by the UCL Institute of Education, BBC News noted, and examined the beliefs of 9,000 British people born in 1970.

Among the key findings, 34 percent of women said that they are atheists or agnostics, representing a 20 point difference compared to the men. Additionally, 60 percent of women said that they believe in life after death, but only 35 percent of men agreed.

The survey traced the changing views of the subjects and found that many of those who said that religioun was very important to them at the age of 16 have become largely nonreligious as adults.

Most of those who said that they believe in God were Christian, the survey added, though when it came to matters of certainty, there were major divides between the denominations as well.

While 71 percent of those who described themselves as Evangelicals said that they have no doubts about God's existence, only 33 percent of Roman Catholics said the same. Anglicans and Methodists had even greater doubts, and only 16 percent said they were certain of God's existence.

Muslims displayed the largest degree of certainty, however, and as many as 88 percent of them said that they have no doubts on the question.

Voas noted that belief in God and faith in life after death are not always firmly linked.

"A quarter of those who said they were agnostic also said they believe in life after death. However, nearly a third of the people who said that they believe in God — despite occasional doubts — do not believe in an after-life," he said, according to The Independent.

Older national surveys, such as the Religious affiliation census in England and Wales for 2011, found that 59 percent of the population identifies as Christian, while 25 percent said that they have no religion.