Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment [NOOK Book]

Overview


“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...

See more details below
Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 40%)$17.60 List Price

Overview


“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.”

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In an anecdotal and eminently readable manner, Zuckerman (sociology, Pitzer Coll.) offers a novel idea within the study of religious sociology. Specifically, he investigates what it means to be a nonbelieving person in a pervasively secular society. Zuckerman offers personal reflections and sociological analysis of two of the least religious countries in the world today: Denmark and Sweden. His yearlong study consisted of 150 formal interviews of people from all vocations and areas of these countries. Through these findings, Zuckerman attempts to analyze the answers that a relatively nonreligious society offers for dealing with death, considering deep philosophical questions, and creating personal contentment. Unfortunately, he offers much more personal reflection than sociological analysis, and his study does not include controls for statistical (rather than haphazard) sampling to produce accurate representation of these societies. As a result, this book is an interesting conversation starter, but it has little sociological value. Optional for libraries with large religious sociology collections.
—Dann Wigner

From the Publisher

"Despite this book's weighty topic, with its conversational writing style, Society Without God is amazingly readable, even fun. It presents rigorous arguments that are deceptively simple to understand, but that are, when you think about them more deeply, quite transformative."-PopMatters,

"While never presuming to offer a strictly generalizable snapshot, by focusing his attention on what are "probably the least religious countries in the world" (2), his provocative and engagingly written book is very effective in helping readers to examine numerous assumptions concerning the place of religion in the modern world... The real strength of this book is that, by challenging widespread analytical assumptions, it presents us with more complexity and with more nuanced questions regarding the nexus of the religious and the secular in contemporary life. To quote a famous Dane on this very point, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." If, as Horatio should have done, we are to heed these words in terms of expanding the frameworks of our accordingly, it will be due in good measure to paying attention to thoughtful and creative books like this one. In my estimation, not to do so would be, well, a tragedy."-Sociology of Religion,

“In an anecdotal and eminently readable manner, Zuckerman offers a novel idea within the study of religious sociology.”
-Library Journal

,

“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.”
-Publishers Weekly

,

“Most Americans are convinced that faith in God is the foundation of civil society. Society Without God reveals this to be nothing more than a well-subscribed, and strangely American, delusion. Even atheists living in the United States will be astonished to discover how unencumbered by religion most Danes and Swedes currently are. This glimpse of an alternate, secular reality is at once humbling and profoundly inspiring— and it comes not a moment too soon. Zuckerman’s research is truly indispensable.”
-Sam Harris,founder of the Reason Project and author of the New York Times best sellers The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814797273
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 291,134
  • File size: 500 KB

Meet the Author


Phil Zuckerman is associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is the author of Invitation to the Sociology of Religion and Strife in the Sanctuary: Religious Schism in a Jewish Community.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Society without God 17

2 Jens, Anne, and Christian 36

3 Fear of death and the meaning of life 57

4 Lene, Sonny, and Gitte 76

5 Being secular 95

6 Why? 110

7 Dorthe, Laura, and Johanne 128

8 Cultural religion 150

9 Back to the USA 167

Appendix 185

Notes 189

Bibliography 205

Index 215

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)