Norway religion study makes for encouraging reading

Norway religion study makes for encouraging reading

The image above was taken tonight from a poll conducted by the Independent in a report about the rapid decline of faith in Norway.

The report claims Norwegians who say they do not believe in God has reached an all-time high. Non-believers now eclipsed those who do believe for the first time ever.

An annual survey answered by 4,000 Norwegians revealed that those replying “no” or “don’t know” to the question “Do you believe in God?” now comfortably outweighed those who said “yes”.

Thirty-nine percent said “no” when asked whether they believed, compared to 37 per cent who said “yes”, while the remaining 23 percent said they did not know.

When the question was first asked in 1985, a full 50 per cent said they believed in God while only one-fifth said they did not.

Jan-Paul Brekke of Ipsos Norway, who led the survey, said that since they started asking 30 years ago “the percentage of those who said they aren’t sure has been about the same”.

The figures mark a clear change from just two years ago, when the number of believers versus non-believers was still equal.

In the country’s capital, Oslo, only 29 percent said they were believers, while the sparsely-populated county of Vest-Agder in the north-west had the most believers at 44 percent.

Brekke noted that not all religious groups were strongly represented in the country-wide assessment, and that “God” was not defined in the question.

It could be the Christian god, an independent god or one from other faiths. There are quite a few immigrants included, but the majority of them come from Western religious traditions. We have only a few Muslims in our material.

Meanwhile, only two in five British people now identify as Christian, according to a two-year inquiry which recommended that state ceremonies and the House of Lords needed to be more representative of the country.

Hat tip: Angela_K

29 responses to “Norway religion study makes for encouraging reading”

  1. L.Long says:

    Better to NOT believe in gawd????
    No! It would be better to not believe because we learn to think so that we stop believing in every sort of con, BS, WooWoo, gawd, or anything with no evidence. I know too many that don’t believe in gawd but use homeopathy, look for aliens, and other BS.

  2. RussellW says:

    Very encouraging news indeed!
    The problem in the survey is that ‘God’ is not defined.

  3. Cali Ron says:

    Hard to define something that doesn’t exist. I think most people have the same basic concept of god as being a supernatural being, creator of everything, all powerful and all knowing. I can’t think of very many religions that have a significantly different definition of god. Maybe Buddhist and Bahia. Good work Norway. Remember to lose the faith and embrace science.

  4. RussellW says:

    “Hard to define something that doesn’t exist.”

    Actually it’s easy, it simply requires imagination and indoctrination. I’ve heard Buddhists say that they “don’t believe in God”i.e. the Semitic theistic god, and Buddha seemed to regard gods as irrelevant.However there are so many varieties of Buddhism it’s impossible to generalise.

  5. Alan Crowe says:

    How the hell can 23 percent ‘not know’ if they believe in god?

  6. Newspaniard says:

    Not being picky, but the question included the words “a god”, which in my view includes all gods from Zeus down to the Flying Spaghetti Monster (PBUH).

  7. Broga says:

    RussellW: Zen is the nearest I get to religion. But for coping with life I prefer the ancient stoics: Epictetus, Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca etc.

  8. Newspaniard says:

    @Broga. You didn’t include Fosters or a good single malt or even a chocolate milk.

  9. Broga says:

    @Newspaniard: I accept your correction. I do love a good single malt where somehow the tumbler always ends up more full then when I open the bottle. It is always a comfort and solace.

  10. Bob says:

    That’s why there is so much crime in Norway.

  11. RussellW says:


    Agreed, however, coping with the prospect of death is the ultimate test for non-believers. At my age and current health status I’m probably much closer to putting my personal philosophy of life to the final test than other commenters here.

    I read ‘On the Nature of Things ‘ years ago, it’s remarkable.

  12. Barry Duke says:

    Bob, you are an imbecile. Norway has a LOW crime rate.

  13. Broga says:

    @RussellW: My mum, dead for some years now, lived to be 101. She was an atheist and very interested in the ancient Stoics. She always had a small pile of Stoic books by her bedside up to the end. Only her last six months were distressing and she spent those with us.

    She said she had no fear of death and I am sure that was genuine as she said life, without independence and dependent on intimate care which embarrassed her, held nothing for her. I spent hours discussing various topics with her and she always wanted to discuss and debate death.

    She often, from Epicurus, said there was no need to fear death as we could not experience it. When life was here death was not; when death was here life was not. She would also comment that when she died the atoms of her body would return to where they had been for billions of years. She loved the thought that our bits (as she called them) were manufactured in far distant stars.

    Many of our discussions were about the illusion of self as she viewed it. She would often talk about what a shifting and precarious entity that was. She would recall intelligent friends she knew stricken with dementia and how their current self was far different from how she had known them in the past.

    She made me promise that she would have a humanist funeral. Her Stoic books she left to my wife ( a retired doctor) whose care was the only way my mum could have stayed with us till the end. She left me a bottle of malt whisky and an insistence that we should not be sad (utterly impossible of course) when she died. The grief of her children, grand-children and great grand children was painful. I still miss her.

    I don’t know if any of this is helpful. Her example showed me that death for an atheist need be no more distressing than it is for a Christian believing in a fictional heaven.

  14. Cali Ron says:

    Newspaniard & Broga: The nearest I get to religion is music, specifically when I’m blowing the blues on my harmonica, in a groove with my band mates where it all comes together, each instrument perfectly complimenting the other, each musician in harmony with the others to create a magical moment. That zen like moment of music doesn’t happen often, but when it does it gives me goosebumps and a deep inner satisfaction.

    The second nearest would be a Smithwicks Ale and a single malt Irish whiskey (my apologies to you scotch purist).

  15. Broga says:

    @Cali Ron : I envy you your musical zen moment. I have met others who say they same, in particular a violinist I know.

  16. Peter Sykes says:

    “Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries — Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands — all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious. These associations say nothing about whether atheism leads to positive social indicators or the other way around. But the idea that atheists are somehow less moral, honest, or trustworthy have been disproven by study after study.” – Greg Graffin

  17. barriejohn says:

    – Norway Has Some Of The Lowest Murder Rates In The World: In 2009, Norway had .6 intentional homicides per 100,000 people. In the same year, the United States had 5 murders per 100,000 people, meaning that the U.S. proportionally has 8 times as many homicides.

    – Norway’s Incarceration Rate Is A Fraction Of That Of The United States: 71 out of every 100,000 Norwegian citizens is incarcerated. In the United States, 743 out of every 100,000 citizens was incarcerated in 2009. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate.

    – Norway’s Prisoner Recidivism Rate Is Much Lower Than The United States’:The recidivism rate for prisoners in Norway is around 20 percent. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 67 percent of America’s prisoners are re-arrested and 52 percent are re-incarcerated.

    Must be the decline of religious belief in the USA that is producing these skewed results!

  18. RussellW says:


    Thanks for the reply.

    My father lived and died an atheist, and although I received a religious education I’ve never been able to believe, religion has always seemed complete nonsense. I’d say the chances that I “find God” would be about zero. So it’s philosophy or nothing.

    “Her example showed me that death for an atheist need be no more distressing than it is for a Christian believing in a fictional heaven.”

    Yes, I think that would apply not only to one’s own death, but the loss of loved ones as well. My wife died of breast cancer some years ago, she was also mentally ill. I can’t imagine how the average religiot could reconcile the suffering of their loved ones with the notion of a benevolent loving sky fairy. I’m also becoming less tolerant of these malevolent demented loonies as I get older, because they insist on imposing their delusions on the rest of the population.

    A few days ago a pair of Mormon morons darkened my door I impolitely asked them to go away.

    On a lighter note, a few years ago the comedian John Saffran become rather tired of Mormons at his front door, so he decided to visit the US and evangelise for atheism in Salt Lake City. Some of the bewildered reactions from the locals are priceless, others of course really resented atheist evangelists disturbing them.

  19. Bob says:


    Thanks for reply.

    Don’t take too much notice of “official” crime figures. The real rate of crime is much, much higher. This is because a) many crimes are not reported and b) the coppers play down crime in order to avoid recording it and telling the truth about police failures etc. This actually happened in Kent where I live – the Kent County Police were caught out fiddling crime figures.



  20. barriejohn says:

    So there’s a lot of crime in Norway because Bob says that there is! Why can the religious not see how fucking stupid they make themselves look when they come out with absolute garbage like this?

  21. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Bob’s problem, amongst no doubt many, is that he has to retreat into these explanations. His religion is dependent of deceit, lies and fantasy. How unbalanced do you have to be to believe that the nonsense in the bible, or one of its many translations, is the word of God?

  22. Bob says:


    Calm down and let’s discuss this in a reasonable way.

    Crime went down during the Welsh Revival and, in some areas, magistrates had no work. When there is a turning to the Lord, in repentance and faith, crime always decreases.

  23. Stephen Mynett says:

    I have a lot of friends in Norway and they will confirm the low crime rate there, it is nothing to do with cooking the books, that is more likely something religious twerps will do to try to prove their ridiculous ideas.
    I assume as well as being better rewarded every time he is slagged Bob also get special rewards for telling lies.

  24. Cali Ron says:

    Bob: You are seriously deluded. In America the crime rate and incarceration rate has risen so high we have the highest incarceration rate in the world and it directly coincides with the rise of modern evangelicalism and religious intrusion in to our government. The percentage of atheist inmates in federal prison is 0.10% while the percentage of atheist in America is 3.1%. That’s right Bob, how are you going to explain that one away? Almost everyone in federal prison here is christian or muslim. Additionally, almost all of the well publicized mass killers here were christians (those that were not were muslims). You and your fellow god believers sure do break laws and kill your fellow man a lot.

  25. harrynutsak says:

    So, Bob, do you think you could, sort of, say, throw yourself into the sea and just float away? The sea is a jolly place, let me tell you.
    The sea is like the arms of Jesus, all salty with his tears over you and what you have done. They wash over all the coasts of the world where foolish sinners, such as yourself, choose to live away from HIM.
    Go to see Jesus. Don’t you want some of that Jesus-Lovin’?
    And the sea is filled with His Holy Tears of Fucking Sadness Over Your Sins.
    Plus, it makes his nail-holes ache, and that pisses him right off, being busy trying to work preparing a place for ya, smashing his Holy Thumbs with His Rod of Iron as he tries to build you something that sort of, but not entirely, resembles a dog house.
    Probably because you aren’t Jewish.
    Your water bowl is ready. Time to float away in the sea of His Tears, the Ocean of Sadness that covers, what is it, 7/10th the surface of His Holy Footstool?
    Go on. Drown yer foolish sorrows and leave the rest of us in peace. Cast yourself into the sea.
    Don’t forget the millstone around your penitent neck.
    We’ll be so glad that you moved on to your Heavenly Reward, O Salty Bob.

    Remember the Sea is His Tears. And is deeper than you.

  26. Bob says:

    @Cali Ron: You state that there are Christians in prison. How many of them, I wonder, simply tick the box that says “Christian” but have never been truly born-again of the Holy Spirit. It is also possible that the true Christians in prison are those who got saved after being convicted.

    I do not accept that I am seriously deluded – you are. I feel so sorry for you because I know what is coming in eternity.



  27. Broga says:

    @Bob: You feel sorry for Steven Fry! I feel sorry for you. Every comment you make demonstrates that you lack moral and intellectual courage. Your God presides over a world where savagery and a pitiless cruelty are visited on the weak and helpless. Cruelty is built into the functioning of the world. You cannot accept that an omnipotent God must be responsible.

    If your God allows the suffering he may be omnipotent but he cannot be loving. If wants to stop the suffering but cannot, then he is not omnipotent. You can grasp that, can’t you Bob? It’s not too difficult.

    You lack the courage to accept that your supposed inerrant word of God is a shambolic mess of contradictions, the result of many translations, and with its supposed authors – Matthew, Mark, Luke etc – not the people who wrote what they purport to have written. Your bible insists on the slavish admiration of a tyrant God, a brute and a bully.

    But what is so unfortuneate in your character,as far as I can understand it, is your assumption that you, a flawed human being, is deserving of eternal bliss. Your occasional faux humility is utterly undermined by this. And to further cast doubt on you being a civilised and decent person is your readiness, viewed it seems to me with an indecent satisfaction, that the unbelievers are going to hell.

    If your God did exist, and in the terms you prefer to think of him, he would, I suggest, find you sadly wanting as a disciple. I feel sorry for you in your delusions and your casting aside the only life we have. It is not Steven Fry we should feel sorry for – it is you.

  28. barriejohn says:

    Broga: How could their heaven possibly be a place of unalloyed joy if the saints, recounting their experiences on earth, were conscious that loved ones from their earthly life were being tormented in hell fire “for all eternity”? Even Christians have problems with this, and can only deal with it by ignoring the question, as there is no answer to it. Their usual tactic is a complete cop out, quoting an Old Testament verse again: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”, ie “We give in”.

  29. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: The other reaction is that whatever villainy any human performed, and however cruel, the punishment of an eternity of hell fire must far outweigh the crimes. In the same way, no virtues could possibly justify a reward of eternal bliss.