God amongst men

“Train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins and you won’t go wrong.”

So said wrestling supremo Hulk Hogan many a time throughout the 80s and 90s. Clearly then, a man with no shortage of testosterone or spirituality. According to a new Canadian study however, that particular combination might actually be pretty rare.

The research appears to show that older men who retain higher levels of certain hormones, including testosterone, are less likely to be big into religion. So whilst amny of us might look at a Christian church say, and see a big cross, some guys are probably just seeing a huge T.

Is there really a connection though and if there is, why and what could it mean? Well we’ve got our own take, but first let’s look at what this experiment consisted of.

Religious study

The study, led by Aniruddha Das of McGill University in Quebec, Canada, analysed over a thousand men. All were  aged between 57 and 85. Aside from looking at body stats, including saliva samples to gauge hormone levels, the team also factored in subjects’ responses to a questionnaire.

This data is drawn from 2005-2006 and 2010-2011 years of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project from Chicago University. Questions included how often the men attended religious services and if there were any clergy members in their social groups.

More or less across the board those with higher amounts of T and DHEA were less likely to have religious ties.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone made in the adrenal gland. It is a precursor of testosterone, meaning the body can convert into T. During in puberty it is vital to the development to some of our more masculine characteristics.

It’s long been thought that the religion you follow is much more a nurture thing than nature. While there probably still is an element of that, this work has given us cause to look again.

Dr Das explains,

“We assume that religious or political behavior are driven by culture, childhood socialization, etc. But many of these activities may in fact have neuroendocrine roots…There could be biological reasons behind the particular personal networks and social affiliations that people form during the course of their lives”

Search for answers

As yet there are no really solid theories about why higher T means less worship. But we could hazard a few guesses.

For instance, greater male hormone generally means better strength and stamina. Maybe guys with plenty of T are satisfied with their own higher power and don’t feel they need help from anyone else’s.

Testosterone also promotes impressive muscle mass and personal confidence, so why go why look for god anywhere else but the nearest reflective surface?

Then again, T has a lot of potentially lifesaving health benefits. Given the subjects in this study were getting up there in age maybe those with stronger levels are assured they won’t have to deal with big G for decades yet.

Bod or god?

Okay so we’re being a little tongue in cheek. In all seriousness though, if you are religious and are worried improving your physique and performance, don’t be. For a start even the researchers admit there’s currently no cause and effect link.

Das again,

“More research is therefore needed on the reasons why androgen levels influence a person’s religious connections, and on the role that hormones play in structuring the life trajectories of older people.”

Secondly, promoting naturally high levels of your own inbuilt T won’t radically alter your personality. It certainly won’t turn you into to some studly Satanist.

[Editor: ? I didn’t actually realize satanism counted as a religion, I thought it was more sacreligious. Let’s roll with it though as I don’t want to take the following jokes out….]

Ripped guys don’t get those killer neck muscles by turning their heads through 360 degrees. A rocking bod doesn’t have to spell no god. If you exercise, you don’t need to exorcise.

What we’re saying is, knees can be used for squats AND prayer of any religion, no problem.

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