Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A World Without God?

Imagine living in a nation where presidents don't sprinkle rhetorical holy water on their wars, where the average citizen declines to believe that Noah's Ark is a historical event, where the term "intelligent design" can be entirely expunged from civilized discourse. - Phil Zuckerman -

Over at Louis Bayard asks the question if McCain wins should we flee? And where should we flee? His answer: Scandinavia. Author Phil Zuckerman proposed it in "Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment. Zuckerman tells of a "magical land where life expectancy is high and infant mortality low, where wealth is spread and genders live in equity, where happy, fish-fed citizens score high in every quality-of-life index: economic competitiveness, healthcare, environmental protection, lack of corruption, educational investment, technological literacy ... "

Zuckerman argues it is not what it has, but what it lacks: "There is no national anti-gay rights movement," writes Zuckerman, "there are no 'Jesus fish' imprinted on advertisements in the yellow pages, there are no school boards or school administrators who publicly doubt the evidence for human evolution ... there are no religiously inspired 'abstinence only' sex education curricula ... there are no parental groups lobbying schools and city councils to remove Harry Potter books from school and public libraries ... there are no restaurants that include Bible verses on their menus and placemats, there are no 'Faith Nights' at national sporting events ..."

There is no God, Zuckerman tell us. As few as 24 percent of Danes and as few as 16 percent of Swedes believe in a personal deity. (In America, that figure is close to 90 percent.) In Scandinavia, belief in life after death hovers in the low 30 percent range, as opposed to 81 percent in America. Some 82 percent of Danes and Swedes believe in evolution, while roughly 10 percent believe in hell. Their rate of weekly church attendance is among the lowest on Earth.

Christianity was introduced in the 800's and became entrenched here, but Zuckerman says the Scandinavians just grew out of it. It is something children believe in and then "grow up" he says. He also tells us and refutes the idea that God gives our charity and our goodness. He says quite the contrary: Scandinavians rank near the top in charitable giving to poor nations, that their murder rate is among the lowest in the world and that the safety net they've created for their poorest citizens puts the U.S. welfare state to shame. And all this has been accomplished without God breathing down anyone's neck.

Though, one must ask the racial make-up of the Scandinavian nations as well? It cannot only be explained away by no moral fervor. But, it sounds nice. He also does not speak of dark undercurrents of Scandinavian life: dismal weather, a heavy tax burden, low fertility, high alcoholism, a suicide rate twice that of America. The Scandinavians, Zuckerman concludes believe in something called: "Gentle Agnosticism." No, I don't believe in God...but I believe in something." Read the full article here.

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