Society Without God

Here’s some news about a new book that I just received in Sam Harris’s newsletter. I guess it’s interesting if you’ve never left the United States. But I don’t think this will surprise anyone who lives in Europe, travels outside the US, or who reads much foreign news.

Contrary to the views of many conservative pundits and the Christian Right, the least religious countries in the world today are not full of chaos and immorality, but are actually among the safest, healthiest, most well-educated, prosperous, ethical, and successful societies on earth. Based on a year’s worth of research conducted while living in Scandinavia, Society Without God by Phil Zuckerman explores life in a largely secular culture, delving into the unique worldviews of secular men and women who live in a largely irreligious society, and explaining the reasons why some nations are less religious than others, and why religious faith doesn’t seem to be the secret to national success that so many claim it to be. 

“Most Americans are convinced that faith in God is the foundation of civil society. Society Without God reveals this to be nothing more than a well-subscribed, and strangely American, delusion. Even atheists living in the United States will be astonished to discover how unencumbered by religion most Danes and Swedes currently are. This glimpse of an alternate, secular reality is at once humbling and profoundly inspiring–and it comes not a moment too soon.”

-Sam Harris, a Co-Founder of the Reason Project and author of the New York Times best sellers The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. I agree and stuff, but isn’t the premise kind of circular? Something like “people who don’t believe in god find that the best societies are the ones that don’t believe in god?”
    It makes me think that religulous people might find important (to them) issues that the author doesn’t address, are gays accepted, or abortion legal, or pornography rampant. That’s not me, mind you, i’m just saying the little bit i read above makes my self-serving sense tingle.

  2. @writerdd: I do, too, but I at least read the liner notes first (Too many disappointments). That is a very memorable and soothing cover…

  3. It’s a shame that many of the good godless folk in Scandinavian countries are so buffaloed and intimidated (encumbered?) by their uber-religious recent immigrants.

  4. I’m one of the people who know very little about this book’s subject. I will get the book from my local library as soon as it is available.

  5. Why am I not suprised by the conclusion. Look around the US of A. The highest divorce rates, the highest abortion rates and the highest teen pregancy rates are in states that self identify as the most fundamentaly religious.

    The less rational you are, the worse of your society.

  6. @drdave: Don’t forget about the highest levels of poverty, the lowest levels of education and the highest levels of violence

  7. writerdd, I’d love to see you do a review of the Book of Job … (NOTE: It is in the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces.)

  8. @limadean: I buy books because of their titles/covers all the time. And music albums as well. I figure, if the book or album sucks, at least it looks pretty! This looks like a good read, however.

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