Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment
Phil Zuckerman, . . NYU, $35 (226pp) ISBN 978-0-8147-9714-3
Sociologist Zuckerman spent a year in Scandinavia seeking to understand how Denmark and Sweden became “probably the least religious countries in the world, and possibly in the history of the world.” While many people, especially Christian conservatives, argue that godless societies devolve into lawlessness and immorality, Denmark and Sweden enjoy strong economies, low crime rates, high standards of living and social equality. Zuckerman interviewed 150 Danes and Swedes, and extended transcripts from some of those interviews provide the book's most interesting and revealing moments. What emerges is a portrait of a people unconcerned and even incurious about questions of faith, God and life's meaning. Zuckerman ventures to answer why Scandinavians remain irreligious—e.g., the religious monopoly of state-subsidized churches, the preponderance of working women and the security of a stable society—but academics may find this discussion a tad thin. Zuckerman also fails to answer the question of contentment his subtitle speaks to. Still, for those interested in the burgeoning field of secular studies—or for those curious about a world much different from the devout U.S.—this book will offer some compelling reading.
Reviewed on: 08/11/2008
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-1-4798-4479-1
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8147-9723-5
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-1-4798-7808-6