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Scandinavia’s Take on Religion

March 6th, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 3 Comments

Much has been made of a number of Scandinavian countries’ cultural and social state, as an example of the “least religious nations in the world”. Can a culture be stable, secure, safe… without a religion? Karl Marx suggested you need good socio-economics in a nation for it to be non-religious. Likewise, Christians suggest “people tend to forget God when it is going well”. The same basic truth? Just from two different angles, two different spins.

So… how non-religious are the Scandinavians really? tzhau passed me a link via delicious: Beliefs – Scandanavian Nonbelievers, Which Is Not to Say Atheists – NYTimes.com

An interesting and illuminating article, it seems unnecessary to log in to view it now, but will likely be necessary later, this being NYTimes.com and all. Even in the latter case, I’d say it is still worth a read! (Accounts are free, they just cost you a bit of effort, and a little bit less privacy while browsing their articles.)

I can also try asking around for some statistically inadequate but nevertheless useful opinions from one or two Scandinavians to see how they experience their countries, to corroborate (or deny) the picture sketched by this article. More useful might be some overview/study of the path Scandinavian countries followed to get to where they are, but I’m too lazy for that, and you can deduce some likely scenarios from what is already provided by the article.

Categories: Worldviews
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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dale Phillip // Mar 6, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Yes, it’s very possible to have a culture without religion.

    Culture is after all defined as the habits and practices – a way of life – that an individual follows. So if music , art and the golden rule are elements of a particular a culture (minus religion) , then yes it is an example of a “good culture”.

    But when you introduce ritual pracites and religion , then it becomes a dangerous brew..for disaster.

    looking at the stats, it’s clear that countries who are secular , certainly don’t suffer from the woes as seen in many other part of the world.

    – Dale

  • 2 Hugo // Mar 7, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Hi Dale! (Not McGowan.)

    But when you introduce ritual pracites and religion , then it becomes a dangerous brew..for disaster.

    looking at the stats, it’s clear that countries who are secular , certainly don’t suffer from the woes as seen in many other part of the world.

    Taking your stats as true, I’ve got to remind you that correlation does not mean causation… it could be that those suffering “woes” tend to be more religious, rather than the other way round (which I suspect you may have meant?)… or it is possible that there’s a third aspect that is the common cause for those two.

    In any case, I suspect you didn’t read the article? So I won’t go asking your opinion on it then. ;)

    xkcd has good timing:
    Correlation.
    Always hover your cursor over the image to get the additional bit of info, which is certainly very cool for this one.

  • 3 Pieter // Mar 8, 2009 at 12:36 am

    A book mentioned looks quite interesting: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Book-Atheist-Spirituality/dp/0670018473

    “[Spirituality] is far too important a matter to be left to fundamentalists”

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