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God is Not Dead, He Just Faded Away? February 28, 2009

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Culture, Ethics, Nina Rosenstand's Posts.

I hurry to post this fascinating article from today’s New York Times about faith and non-faith in Scandinavia. Phil Zuckerman has apparently managed to hit the nail on the head, describing a culture that has no need of religion. This article brings up the question, Can there be moral decency without religion? Can there be spiritual comfort without faith? Can there even be a form of religion without the concept of God? Read this article, and I’ll try to find time to expand this post and comment on it later.



1. Huan - February 28, 2009

That sounds like almost a magical place! I can’t even imagine what it’s like, do they lead a peaceful life? Do they lead a passionate life? Are they incredibly strong individuals? Are they just happily getting by?

Why exactly is God taboo over there? Is it a sign of emotional weakness or something?

I always thought that a society without religion is possible but we’re simply not there yet as a race, but apparently not! Fascinating article indeed!

2. Paul Moloney - March 1, 2009

If there is a God, this would seem to indicate that God definitely does not hold a grudge against non-believers or take revenge on non-believers by messing up their society.

3. Dwight Furrow - March 1, 2009

Apparently, the Scandinavians have discovered that the ethical relation does not need any metaphysical mumbo-jumbo or speculations about the meaning of life to be intelligible. It stands on its own.

In fact, the meaning of life and our sense of metaphysical comfort is a product of the ethical relation not vice versa–which overturns much of Western metaphysics.

How do you say Viva la Revolucion! in Swedish?

4. Paul Moloney - March 3, 2009

As good as the Scandinavian societies may be, I doubt that I could ever bring myself to move there, unless maybe I believed in God. I am afraid that what happened to Descartes would happen to me, that is, die from the cold. After having been born in the City of Los Angeles, after having worked eight summers at a summer camp in Malibu, after having body surfed at Huntington Beach, I have developed a very low toleration for the the cold. Apparently, I am fated to live in an imperfect society because of the weather. On the other hand, if anyone in the Scandinavian countries came to believe in God, they might move to warmer weather.

5. Dwight Furrow - March 3, 2009


Actually, I think that weather that cold is evidence that there is no God, at least not a benevolent God. I’m not surprised that the Scandinavians are sceptical.

6. God is Not Dead, etc., Part 2 « Philosophy On The Mesa - March 16, 2009

[…] Peter Steinfels, Phil Zuckerman, religion, Scandinavia trackback Getting back to the issue of non-religion in Scandinavia (sorry it took so long—I’ve been swamped with work): I appreciate the comments, but I’m […]

7. More Paradise « Philosophy On The Mesa - March 19, 2009

[…] in Culture, Dwight Furrow’s Posts. Tags: Denmark, George Soros, Justin Fox, paradise trackback Nina has helpfully informed us about relaxed attitudes toward religion in Denmark. Via Justin Fox, she will no doubt be proud to […]

8. Brian - March 20, 2009

I am a Canadian…, with a Danish grandaughter, and was myself engaged at one time to a Dane. I speak Danish (poorly), and have had the luxury of participating in many Danish family celebrations.

One of the writers makes an excellent point. There is a state religion in Denmark, and almost all Danes I have met were baptized in a church and would anticipate a Christian burial. It would not be surprising to visit a church on the afternoon of Christmas Eve to listen to hymns. It would be astonishing to visit church on any regular Sunday.

To expand on the celebration of Christmas from an observer’s point of view.

Christmas is indeed a mix of Christian traditions and pre-Christian ritual. Christmas Carols are sung, as the family circles the pagan Tree of Life. The words to the Carols will be considerately provided in printed form as no one could be expected to know the words. On the other hand, everyone is expected to participate.

If religion could be considered to be simply an organized system of beliefs, then perhaps the real religion of Denmark is being Danish. A largely homogenous society has adopted very strict and well-understood social norms which are at least partly encompassed within the idea of Janteloven. “Correct” behavior is understood without the intervention of a pastor.

I do not believe that God is dead in Scandinavia…, but perhaps she’s sleeping.

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