According to the research, sex releases a ‘love hormone’ oxytocin not only promotes social bonding, altruism but also divinity – especially in men.
Researchers at Duke University, in North Carolina, say that sex could inspire a belief – or an increased belief – in God and religion.
The study published this week look at oxytocin a hormone which is often stimulated during sex, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
It also comes in medication form and is often used to help women in labour.
But in the study, men reported a greater sense of spirituality shortly after taking oxytocin and their feelings continued a week later.
According to a news website for the University, Duke Today, lead author Patty Van Cappellen, a social psychologist at the American University, said: ‘Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and well-being in previous research.
‘We were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences.
‘Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs.’
To test the chemical reaction some of the men were given the hormone whilst others took a placebo.
The men who got a dose of the ‘love hormone’ were more likely to say that spirituality was an important part of their lives.
And not all of them had previously said that faith was a part of their lives. They also expressed a feeling of unity with other people and living things.
Oxytocin, it seems, sparked more positive emotions, such as awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, love, and serenity. But it didn’t affect everyone equally – those with a certain gene, called CD38 and which regulates its release in the brain, had a much more amplified response.
According to the study, which was published in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, women produce more oxytocin then men, but Duke University hasn’t yet studied its effects on female godliness.
Dr Van Cappellen adds that another study needs to be carried out with women as the chemical operates differently between genders.
She added: ‘Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors.
‘However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe.
‘Oxytocin’s effects on women’s spirituality still needs to be investigated.’