Tuesday, June 24, 2008
[the flag of Sweden, with Nordic Cross]
When one discusses ethics and morality with atheists, one issue that often comes up is Sweden. Sweden is a country with a low rate of religious observance (few than 10% churchgoers) yet at the same time a low crime rate – about 1 murder per 100,000 people per year.
Based upon this we have clear proof that “you don’t need God to be good”.
Or do we?
Sweden was fully Christianized by 1150. The 1904 New International Encyclopedia noted that in Sweden religion was taught in State schools under prominent control of the clergy. Until 1950, it was illegal to live in Sweden and not be officially associated with any religion. Until 2000, Sweden had an official state church. It is safe to say that the grandparents of the average Swede were devout Lutherans and his earlier ancestors were Christians for 800 years. The Swedes have inherited a strong tradition of Lutheran ethics, including the prohibitions against murder and theft. Whether that will change as more time goes by, what Sweden will look like in another few generations, we will have to wait and see.
A better example of a society free from God would probably be North Korea. A minority of North Koreans converted to Christianity mainly between 1881 and 1948. Beyond that North Koreans have no experience with monotheism and Abrahamic religions. Since 1948, the North Korean government has been actively anti-religious. (This is NOT a specifically Communist concept. Richard Dawkins, a non-Communist atheist, has called the religious education of children "abuse", meaning, presumably that I belong in prison.)
North Korea is a paradise. All atheists should go there.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:19 PM