By Phil Zuckerman
“Silver” Winner of the 2008 Foreword journal publication of the yr Award, faith Category
Before he all started his fresh travels, it looked as if it would Phil Zuckerman as though people all around the globe have been “getting religion”—praising deities, acting holy rites, and soberly protecting the realm from sin. yet such a lot citizens of Denmark and Sweden, he discovered, don’t worship any god in any respect, don’t pray, and don’t supply a lot credence to spiritual dogma of any sort. rather than being bastions of sin and corruption, besides the fact that, because the Christian correct has steered a godless society will be, those nations are packed with citizens who rating on the very most sensible of the “happiness index” and luxuriate in their fit societies, which boast a number of the lowest premiums of violent crime on this planet (along with a number of the lowest degrees of corruption), first-class academic structures, powerful economies, well-supported arts, unfastened well-being care, egalitarian social rules, amazing motorbike paths, and nice beer.
Zuckerman officially interviewed approximately one hundred fifty Danes and Swedes of every age and academic backgrounds over the process fourteen months. He used to be rather drawn to the worldviews of people that reside their lives with no non secular orientation. How do they give thought to and deal with demise? Are they frightened approximately an afterlife? What he discovered is that almost all of his interviewees dwell their lives with out a lot worry of the awful Reaper or concerns in regards to the hereafter. This led him to ask yourself how and why it's that definite societies are non-religious in a global that appears to be like marked by means of expanding religiosity. Drawing on sought after sociological theories and his personal wide study, Zuckerman ventures a few fascinating answers.
This attention-grabbing procedure at once counters the claims of outspoken, conservative American Christians who argue society with no God will be hell in the world. it's important, Zuckerman believes, for american citizens to grasp that “society with out God is not just attainable, however it could be very civil and pleasant.”
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Extra info for Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment
Why, then, are Denmark and Sweden such successful societies? There is of course no one clear, definitive answer. It could be related to the relatively small size of their populations, or their historically high degrees of homogeneity, or their history of collective farming, or their centuries of successful trade with the great colonial powers of Europe, or the impressive development of their welfare states, which combine the best of capitalism with a strong safety net for the disadvantaged through progressive 30 Society without God taxation.
The United States is arguably the most religious Western democracy. Denmark and Sweden are arguably the least religious Western democracies. Isn’t it strange and rather noteworthy, then, that it is in proudly religious America that guns are plentiful (especially handguns and semiautomatic assault weapons), the penal system is harsh and punitive, the death penalty is meted out on a weekly basis, drug addicts are treated like criminals, millions of children and pregnant mothers lack basic health insurance, millions of elderly people go without proper care, social workers Society without God 33 are underpaid and overworked, people suffering from mental illness are left festering on city streets, and the highest levels of poverty of all the industrialized democracies is here.
Not only for yourself but for other people, for your family. And have good relations and meet beautiful music and literature and so on—and for me—I don’t understand the people who say, “Well what else? ” I . . I think . . eh-h-h . . just to have a good life, even a bad life—a life is a life— even a bad life has a lot of positive sides, so . . just to get any—to say the reason to live is to die and coming to heaven, for me it’s [laughs] . . it’s not understandable. As a nonbeliever, what are some of your morals and values?