Just an article I found on Reddit and thought would be an interesting read for some of us. An excerpt:
To a certain jaded sensibility, what makes Scandinavia particularly magical is what it lacks. "There is no national anti-gay rights movement," writes Zuckerman, "there are no 'Jesus fish' imprinted on advertisements in the yellow pages, there are no school boards or school administrators who publicly doubt the evidence for human evolution ... there are no religiously inspired 'abstinence only' sex education curricula ... there are no parental groups lobbying schools and city councils to remove Harry Potter books from school and public libraries ... there are no restaurants that include Bible verses on their menus and placemats, there are no 'Faith Nights' at national sporting events ..."
Not to put too fine a point on it, there's no God. At least none that would pass muster with evangelical Americans. As few as 24 percent of Danes and as few as 16 percent of Swedes believe in a personal deity. (In America, that figure is close to 90 percent.) In Scandinavia, belief in life after death hovers in the low 30 percent range, as opposed to 81 percent in America. Some 82 percent of Danes and Swedes believe in evolution, while roughly 10 percent believe in hell. Their rate of weekly church attendance is among the lowest on Earth.
"The notion that religious belief is childish, that earnest prayer is something that only children engage in, and that faith in God is just something that one dabbles with in childhood, but eventually grows out of as one becomes a mature adult, would strike most Americans as offensive," writes Zuckerman. "But for millions of Scandinavians, that's just the way it is."
This excerpt in particular caught my eye:
This will come as a surprise to cultural conservatives, who for a long time have pointed baleful fingers at the atheist dictatorships of Albania, North Korea, China and the former Soviet Union. But as Zuckerman argues, there is a significant difference between imposing atheism from above and absorbing it from below. The majority of Scandinavians, he writes, "stopped being religious of their own volition." It may be they never started. Although Christianity was first introduced to Sweden and Denmark in the 800s, it took centuries to become fully entrenched, and given that this process was shaped less by missionary work than by royal fiat, Zuckerman questions whether Danes and Swedes were ever truly as devout as some of their European brethren.
As for faith being the cornerstone of personal morality, Zuckerman would remind us that Scandinavians rank near the top in charitable giving to poor nations, that their murder rate is among the lowest in the world and that the safety net they've created for their poorest citizens puts the U.S. welfare state to shame. And all this has been accomplished without God breathing down anyone's neck.
Well, color my sensibilities jaded, because it sounds pretty much like paradise to me.