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Society without God : what the least…
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Society without God : what the least religious nations can tell us about… (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Phil Zuckerman

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1611174,103 (4.17)22
Member:mrund
Title:Society without God : what the least religious nations can tell us about contentment
Authors:Phil Zuckerman
Info:New York ; London : New York University Press, c2008.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment by Phil Zuckerman (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Well-written, balanced and accurate. A sensible review of the no-religion concept and how it actually can work in today's world. I found this book to be a very interesting read and recommend that anyone studying religion - or anyone else, for that matter - take time to read it. ( )
  K.J. | Aug 16, 2014 |
Before he began his recent travels, it seemed to Phil Zuckerman as if humans all over the globe were “getting religion”—praising deities, performing holy rites, and soberly defending the world from sin. But most residents of Denmark and Sweden, he found, don't worship any god at all, don't pray, and don't give much credence to religious dogma of any kind. Instead of being bastions of sin and corruption, however, as the Christian Right has suggested a godless society would be, these countries are filled with residents who score at the very top of the "happiness index" and enjoy their healthy societies, which boast some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world (along with some of the lowest levels of corruption), excellent educational systems, strong economies, well-supported arts, free health care, egalitarian social policies, outstanding bike paths, and great beer.

Zuckerman formally interviewed nearly 150 Danes and Swedes of all ages and educational backgrounds over the course of fourteen months. He was particularly interested in the worldviews of people who live their lives without religious orientation. How do they think about and cope with death? Are they worried about an afterlife? What he found is that nearly all of his interviewees live their lives without much fear of the Grim Reaper or worries about the hereafter. This led him to wonder how and why it is that certain societies are non-religious in a world that seems to be marked by increasing religiosity. Drawing on prominent sociological theories and his own extensive research, Zuckerman ventures some interesting answers.

This fascinating approach directly counters the claims of outspoken, conservative American Christians who argue that a society without God would be hell on earth. It is crucial, Zuckerman believes, for Americans to know that “society without God is not only possible, but it can be quite civil and pleasant.” ( )
  MarkBeronte | Jul 28, 2013 |
Should lay to rest for Americans the notion that people need to believe in fairy tales to live peaceably with one another. The next step is to stop being Christian atheists and purge the leftover mental baggage that still infects the West's value system. We need a non-christian atheism.

The West is still monistic
The West is still patriarchal
The West still punishes rather than seeks to heal and reform
The West still privileges males over females
The West is still hetero-normative
The West still thinks the ideal family is a hetero pair bonded nuclear family
The West still privileges monogamy
The West still reduces sex to animality ( ie procreation )
The West still controls female reproduction
The West still pretends to be individualistic, yet won't allow people to control their bodies.
The West still thinks parents own their children
The West still thinks is ok to teach your children lies if they are part of a religion(unless its a unapproved of religion like Wicca)
Western science is still trying to discern the mind of god (goes back to monism) ( )
1 vote ElectricKoolAid | Jan 4, 2013 |
This book is excellent. Very well written and very interesting. I was shocked at many of the stories Zuckerman was told during his interviews about how if someone confesses to being a believer you're teased and thought of as an oddball. I can't wrap my head around the Europeans' culture, but it seems to be very content, peaceful, and not lacking in meaning, unlike what many theists say today about societies lacking a belief in god. Zuckerman's research surely puts to rest all claims that a strong religious presence and belief in god are necessary.

The book is a fairly slim one, but it's packed with a lot of information. Near the end of the book Zuckerman contrasts the religious views and culture of the U.S. with the European countries and attempts to help the reader understand possible reasons why Sweden and Denmark are so irreligious. This part of the book was very interesting. He explains different answers to that question taken from other researchers and goes into some of the history of the U.S. and the European counties in an attempt to understand the reasons for the differences in the level of religious belief.

Zuckerman makes it clear that his knowledge of the history of these places are minimal and there are many factors that go into how religious views of nations are shaped, but offered his views (which seem to me very logical and plausible) anyway to give his readers an explanation and to help further the discussion on these topics.

If you're looking for an excellent and balanced treatment of the sociology of religion and what makes a person and place religious or not, this is a very good place to start. ( )
  PrimeTruth | Apr 23, 2012 |
Good to air a rational agnostic lifeview, but the text is very repetitive.
It's a one argument book.
Also, the description of religious America is certainly a caricature. Mr. Zuckerman needs to discover that many Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. attend quietly to their beliefs and lifestyles, much like the Danes and Swedes.
1 vote 2wonderY | Aug 31, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0814797148, Hardcover)

“Silver” Winner of the 2008 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, Religion Category

Before he began his recent travels, it seemed to Phil Zuckerman as if humans all over the globe were “getting religion”—praising deities, performing holy rites, and soberly defending the world from sin. But most residents of Denmark and Sweden, he found, don't worship any god at all, don't pray, and don't give much credence to religious dogma of any kind. Instead of being bastions of sin and corruption, however, as the Christian Right has suggested a godless society would be, these countries are filled with residents who score at the very top of the "happiness index" and enjoy their healthy societies, which boast some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world (along with some of the lowest levels of corruption), excellent educational systems, strong economies, well-supported arts, free health care, egalitarian social policies, outstanding bike paths, and great beer.

Zuckerman formally interviewed nearly 150 Danes and Swedes of all ages and educational backgrounds over the course of fourteen months. He was particularly interested in the worldviews of people who live their lives without religious orientation. How do they think about and cope with death? Are they worried about an afterlife? What he found is that nearly all of his interviewees live their lives without much fear of the Grim Reaper or worries about the hereafter. This led him to wonder how and why it is that certain societies are non-religious in a world that seems to be marked by increasing religiosity. Drawing on prominent sociological theories and his own extensive research, Zuckerman ventures some interesting answers.

This fascinating approach directly counters the claims of outspoken, conservative American Christians who argue that a society without God would be hell on earth. It is crucial, Zuckerman believes, for Americans to know that “society without God is not only possible, but it can be quite civil and pleasant.”

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:06 -0400)

Society Without God reveals this to be nothing more than a well-subscribed, and strangely American, delusion. This fascinating approach directly counters the claims of outspoken, conservative American Christians who argue that a society without God would be hell on earth. It is crucial, Zuckerman believes, for Americans to know that society without God is not only possible, but it can be quite civil and pleasant.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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