So, a quick concluding bit, since I wrote part 4 yesterday while struggling with my brain overheating, in the last hour before the blog was supposed to update — and I'm not sure I was as clear as I could have been… and also because this is the 4th of July, and I feel the following describes an important freedom which we're unfortunately still missing in the US. ;)

Phil Zuckerman's fascinating book Society Without God explores the possible causes, and the results of, the increasing Scandinavian irreligiosity. I think he has unwittingly missed the point: I believe the Scandinavian societies are (however accidentally) not so much getting rid of religion, as they are getting rid of patriarchy — and one of its side-effects is a loss of organized religion. Here's my reasoning:

1) An overriding concern in Scandinavia is their dedication to egalitarianism. This is the basis of the Nordic welfare state — its redistribution of wealth can be seen as egalitarianism in action.

2) Patriarchy's hierarchical binaries are violently antithetical to egalitarianism, especially the part where women are categorized as inferior to men, or people are ranked by skin colors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, we find that the people who do not fit well into the egalitarian Scandinavian society are those most rigidly dedicated to patriarchal forms of thought, such as those who believe they should be privileged simply because they are male.

3) This is also why the androcentric organized religions are dying in Scandinavia as religions: their dogma is all about imposing intolerant and unwanted hierarchies — a fact which I think Zuckerman missed.

4) Parts of these organized religions continue to exist in altered form as secular cultural rituals, which survive simply because they're perceived as being Scandinavian rather than religious.

5) However, religion itself is not going away, despite Zuckerman's assertions. Religiosity continues to exist in Scandinavia as a wide variety of tolerant personal spiritualities.

6) Due to the Nordic welfare state's focus on helping its people thrive, the Scandinavians know they are safe and secure even should they lose their job or suffer serious health issues. As the empirical data shows, a safe and secure people are less fearful about money and material goods; and are more hopeful, peaceful, charitably generous, concerned with their environmental health, prosperous, involved with their government, corruption-free, happy, educated, tolerant, healthy, etc.

This is why I'd like to see patriarchy wither and die — it's not healthy for us all, whereas egalitarianism is emphatically moreso.

Hope that helps clarify things a bit; enjoy! :)


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