Posted by: Dan | October 6, 2007

Ghastly Spectres of Secular Humanism

According to the James Dobson‘s of the world, secular humanism inevitably leads to moral turpitude and societal decay. Strangely however, the opposite seems to be true. Take Norway as a case-study…

Norway flourishes as secular nation:

Rev. Rick Mason notes that atheism is on the rise. He blames Christian fundamentalism. Certainly the ineptness, dishonesty and lack of ethics of the overtly God-fearing Bush administration may be turning people off on God.

A case study shows what this could mean for America. Norway has embraced secularism at the expense of its Christian roots. A 2005 survey conducted by Gallup International rated Norway the least religious country in Western Europe.

In Norway, 82.9 percent of the population are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (they are automatically registered at birth and few bother to be unregistered). However, only approximately 10 percent regularly attend church services and identify themselves as being personally Christian.

A 2006 survey found: 29 percent believe in a god or deity; 23 percent believe in a higher power without being certain of what; 26 percent don’t believe in God or higher powers; 22 percent have doubts.

Depending on the definition of atheism, Norway thus has between 26 percent and 71 percent atheists. The Norwegian Humanist Association is the world’s largest humanist association per capita.

And what has secularism done to Norway? The Global Peace Index rates Norway the most peaceful country in the world. The Human Development Index, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living, has ranked Norway No. 1 every year for the last five years.

Hmm… peace, good healthcare, good ecuation, and less poverty. My gosh, that reeks of immorality and societal decay! *scoffs*

Seriously though. Yes, there are a myriad of ways to get to those ideals of a peaceful, healthy, educated, and happy populace, and (a)theism doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it. But common-sense, reality-based approaches such as humanism would be a lot more successful at moving our society in that direction than superstition and authoritarianism, which are ingrained in the theistic alternatives. And currently, with the religious ‘litmus test’ that dominates American politics today, in a largely ignorant society, reality-based approaches won’t get you elected.

(Hattip: Brent on The Horrors of Secular Norway)



  1. As a Swede, I have usually laughed at Norwegian jokes, but now we have final evidence that Norwegians are just as smart as we are.

  2. Meanwhile: Faith `plays every role’ in Obama’s life

  3. Unfortunately, Dobson is far from alone in his view. As linked above, the Democrats need to at least appear and sound religious in order to appease the majority who see religious faith (and Christian faith, nonetheless) as a necessary prerequisite.

    How long until we have a non-Christian president? I’m guessing we’ll see the first minority and woman presidents first…

  4. How long until we have a non-Christian president?

    You’re not counting Jefferson and Lincoln?

  5. Air America Launches Nationwide Atheism Program

  6. Meanwhile, back at the Discovery Institute/Neo-Creationism Propaganda Ministry, John West has published a much-balleyhooed book that makes the case that virtually all of society’s ills can be traced to poor old Charles Darwin and his latter-day minions. I’m going to force myself to readDarwin Day in America, not because I expect to find any new arguments or evidence in it (IDers like John West and his fellow creationists aren’t interested in new ideas, and are positively repelled by evidence, especially if it involves entering a lab or going out into the field), but because I want to be prepared for the tidal wave of bullshit that it might generate vis-a-vis the pernicious effects of “Darwinism” on society. This despite the fact that (according to the DI/NCPM’s own statistics), less than 10% of Americans believe in non-theistic evolution, and even fewer are atheists. Two thoughts immediately come to mind: shouldn’t the prisons be stuffed with evolutionary biologists and atheists (i.e. greater than 10% of the prison population), and isn’t this in a perverse way empirical evidence that evolutionary biologists and atheists have an influence on society out of all proportion to our numbers? Ah, but that would imply a direct contradition in logic: something that the DI/NCPM is, of course, perfectly comfortable with, but which strikes the <10% of the population that attempts to be rational as…well, irrational.
    So it goes…

  7. Just an additional thought on my part: whether you call it rationalism, free-thinking, atheism, non-theism, secularism, or humanism, it really depresses me sometimes that fewer than 10% of American society is seriously interested in it.

    This forces me to conclude one of two possibilities… either we 10% really are more brilliant and intelligent than we (or I) humbly lead ourselves to believe, or that H. sapiens really isn’t an intelligent species, by and large. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

  8. What are these Christian roots that Norway has abandoned? The Norse still officially followed Thor and Odin when they began to settle The New World, although this was the cusp of the country’s official conversion. Norway has been a Christian country for the past thousand years, half the life of the faith, but I don’t know it’s fair to call this their roots.

    I think the correlation between Norway’s seeming disinterest in all things organizedly Christian and their literacy rates are a statistical fluke. It mgiht be a good counter-example to any shrill claim that atheism necessarily causes moral decay … but it doesn’t strongly suggest the opposite.


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