Sunday, March 1, 2009

But How Do We *Become* a Secular Society?

I had posted links before to Phil Zuckerman, who recently released Society Without God, a book focusing on the predominantly secular societies of Scandinavia. Hemant Mehta goes into more detail, jealous of the positive alternate universe scenario that Scandinavia seems to present.

My question is: how did this happen? And how can we replicate it? Not having read the book, Zuckerman may offer his suggestions; if not, I hope soon there are thinkers who do. We debate a lot about how individual atheists get there, and to my knowledge there has been nothing like even a customer survey to see why people buy into the atheist brand and how their background affects that, let alone a rigorous categorization of people's reasons for doing so and the process by which they arrive at atheism. In the case of Scandinavia, I have only a basic Wikiknowledge of the region's history, but these states seem to have been (like the rest of Europe) sectarian states which have somehow become majority atheist - when the U.S. is founded as explicitly secular, and yet here we are. How did this happen? Why? When? How fast? I hope lots of us are thinking about this so we can encourage it elsewhere in the world.

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