News has been popping up about a new poll that reveals just how non-religious Iceland is ..
Less than half of Icelanders claim they are religious and more than 40% of young Icelanders identify as atheist. Remarkably the poll failed to find young Icelanders who accept the creation story of the Bible. 93.9% of Icelanders younger than 25 believed the world was created in the big bang, 6.1% either had no opinion or thought it had come into existence through some other means and 0.0% believed it had been created by God.
That is a news story, so it it correct?
Yes indeed, the actual poll results from November last year are here (I do hope your Icelandic is good) …luckily the news article has the details …
Younger people and inhabitants of Reykjavík are least religious
Older people are far more likely to profess religious beliefs and to identify as Christian than those who are younger. 80.6% of those older than 55 identified as Christian and only 11.8% said they were atheists. At the same time 40.5% of people who were 25 years or younger said they were atheists, and only 42% said they were Christian. Traditional Christian beliefs also seem more common outside of Reykjavík, where 77-90% of people identified as Christian and 7.1-18 were atheists, compared to 56.2% of people in Reykjavík who identified as Christian and 31.4% as atheist.
0.0% of people younger than 25 believe God created the world
The poll found an even more dramatic difference between different generations when it probed how people believed the world had been created. Of those younger than 25 93.9% said the world had been created in the big bang and 0.0% believed God had created the world. 77.7% of those between 25 and 44 years old believed the world had been created in the big bang and 10.1% believed God had created the world. In all but the oldest age category a majority accepted the big-bang theory. Only 46.1% of those older than 55 believed in the big bang, and nearly a fourth, 24.5% believed God had created the world.
Some religious groups are growing
Given the above recent statistics, it may come as a surprise for you to also learn that the ancient Sumerian religion of Zuism is now the fastest growing belief in Iceland and they now outnumber the Icelandic Muslim association.
All is not quite as it appears to be, and so what is really going on with Zuism is that people are supposed to register their membership in a religious group and the state then uses taxes to fund that religious group – it’s the law, that is how things work there – so you have the rather bizarre effect of individuals who were formally born into a family and so automatically registered with a specific belief, and ever since then their taxes fund that group, even when they themselves are not actually religious.
Zuism is really a protest group, the deal is that if you register with them, then they get the taxes and forward those payments back to you, and so this is really all about protesting against utterly pointless archaic laws.
Now that is a very smart way of driving the point home.
Give the oft quoted religious claim that you need a belief in a God to be a decent human being, then we can use Iceland to test that. So what exactly is the crime rate, are their gangs of atheists rampaging across the countryside, is drug abuse rife? Er no, quite the opposite …
Violent crime was virtually non-existent. People seemed relaxed about their safety and that of their children to the point where parents left their babies outside and unattended.
…Police are unarmed, too. The only officers permitted to carry firearms are on a special force called the Viking Squad, and they are seldom called out.
In addition, there are, comparatively speaking, few hard drugs in Iceland.
According to a 2012 UNODC report, use among 15-64-year-olds in Iceland of cocaine was 0.9%, of ecstasy 0.5%, and of amphetamines 0.7%.
… so no, you really do not need a God as a mandatory part of being a decent human being and living in a peaceful society. I’m not suggesting that the lack of a God is the answer either, because there are other factors in play that truly does explain Icelandic society, namely social equality and their ability to pre-empt and tackle issues before they get out of hand.
It is oh so tempting to move to Iceland, except of course you do also need to consider the weather and the also the language (the joys of a four-case synthetic grammar).