Monday, June 15, 2009

God Probably Doesn’t Exist in Sweden

There is an ad campaign going on in Stockholm right now. Gud finns nog inte. God probably doesn’t exist. They are blue and yellow squares. One square being a blue and yellow cross and a play on the Swedish flag. One a blue and yellow star of David. One a blue and yellow crescent. Typing this, I realize I have no idea which of these religious symbols are considered proper nouns and deserve capitalized letters. So none of them get them. Because I’m politically correct like that.

Sweden is a confused society when it comes to religion. It’s here, but not really. The Swedes happily take various Christian holidays off from work and treat them as public holidays. Like the Day of the Ascension. I had never even heard of this day until I moved here. And found out I didn’t have to go to work because instead I should be celebrating the day Jesus headed up to heaven.

Of course, start a conversation with the average Swede and they will deny any belief in God. They might admit to some sense of spirituality, believing in “something” and give you some new age nonsense about the sun or nature, but to name it God would be sacrilegious. See what I did there?

Plenty of conversation about the US will bring up the religious aspects of the country and “God Bless the USA.” Abortion. Gay marriage. Anything that could be related, no matter how peripherally, to religion, will come up.

Keep in mind though that until just recently, 2000 to be exact, Sweden still had an official state church. In 2008, about 73% of Swedes were still members of the Church, that’s almost seven million people. This has been decreasing slowly, but steadily since 1972, and maybe further back but those are the Swedish Church statistics I could find. In a half-hearted search I couldn’t manage to find how many people actually go to church. Well I found a ballpark number on Wikipedia, but I’ll be damned if I start referencing Wikipedia, even if this is just a blog.

The God probably doesn’t exist campaign, states that over seven million Swedes aren’t religious. Now we’re playing with semantics here. Believing in God. Being religious. And of course, I feel fairly confident that of those seven million Swedish church members, plenty aren’t believers. That’s fine. But let’s do some quick math here. Seven million church members plus seven million non-religious people does not nine million Swedes make. Somewhere along the line, the numbers don’t match up.

Sweden is known to be an incredibly secular society. Which I think is why I find this ad campaign to be so very interesting. In a society that actually prides itself on its lack of religion, the need for an ad campaign like this seems like overkill. Or a waste of money. Then I started reading the website. And about the campaign. The last line hit the nail on the head. The group behind the campaign, the Humanists, want new members.

The God probably doesn’t exist website starts you off with a test. Which I took. I was impressed by the horribly loaded questions that don’t actually do much good for starting a reasonable discussion. This was especially noticeable when I answered a question “wrong” in the eyes of the Humanists. Depending on your point of view I either passed or failed. But the Humanists seem to think that I should join them. Take that for what you will.

Of course, a group that wants you to join in their beliefs, wants you to donate to them, wants you to become a member might remind you of an already existing entity. Like a church for example. I doubt the Humanists would want me to mention that.

I am not a religious person at all. I mean at all. But I have no problem with people believing in something. Belief is good. Faith is good. That being said, I don't want you knocking on my door trying to sell me your particular God. Whether it be a particular savior, or knowledge and secularism. It's the extremism that bothers me.

And hypocrisy. Hypocrisy also bothers me.

Welcome to Sweden. Where God probably doesn’t exist.

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  1. God how I love your blog! (See what I did there?) ;)

  2. Recent world religion survey results put sweden at 85% Atheists/Agnostics.

    Intresting fact.

  3. I think that campaign sounds odd... I used to be a non-believer but now I am, haha (:

    When did you come to Sweden?

  4. well, at the very begining when i came here i ran into some of those JJ's witnesses quite a thousand of times! they were everywhere. i guess i was n't just virtue enough to be eaten by them, and now these huminists and this ridiculous slogan, is it about the fact that man never gonna be mature enough to do every thing in moderation or we used to know some people who was taking advantage of religious crowd and now we have another party who wants taking advantages of nonreligion crowd!
    or in another quite a same point of view(how same , i don't know) some guys looking for some ways to make money and not frying burgers.

  5. The humanists must consider a theistic worldview as competition. It's an interesting ad campaign...and goes to show that *nearly* everyone is selling something. I just hate it when it's a worldview for sale. I'm not an evangelist (and I don't like them - Christians or humanists or whatever - "knocking on my door" either). To me it's an intimate thing.

  6. hmm... just saw that add before I went back to the US but didnt realize what it is... hmm... well first of I think Sweden being Christian is baloney! I went to school there during the time the state and church seperated and suggested that my school should do a holiday celebration for all religions and cultures that have a holiday in december time... but all of a sudden everyone got sooo uppset and reeeally neede their christmas and yet not knowing fully what its behind it... ujuj...

  7. The reason we have so high numbers of members in the state church is most likely because you join automatically. Every year you pay a member fee included with your tax.

    To leave the church you have to send in a form, like I did.

    I'm not sure all people really know they can leave and also many just don't really bother leaving...

  8. In my family (over there in Sweden), the older generation has held tight a belief in God, church and all things simple. The younger generations have taken things much lighter...busying themselves with other things...just like in the US. And I'm pretty sure every org wants our money...

  9. When times are hard, people need God more. Times have not been really hard in Sweden for centuries, which explains the lack of belief.

    Hairy, the cross in Swedish flag, like in all Nordic countries, is the symbol of Christianity. So why don't they demand changing the flag as well? Another thing, had the flag been upside down, thus representing anti-Christianity, it would have caused maybe a little more commotion. That is, if anyone would have noticed it. I certainly would have :)

  10. Just a comment on the Christmas/Jul-thing. Long before anyone in Sweden had heard of Jesus or christianity Jul, or Midvinterblot was celebrated, just like midsummer is celebrated today.

    When christianity swept over europe it had to compete with pagan ceremonies and this so by taking over most of the sacred dates. No where in the bible it says that Jesus was born on the 25th of Decembre!

  11. The most interesting parts are left out: that you are not religious, yet you believe faith and belief are good (values put on conceptualizations). And that knocking on the door, trying to sell a particular god does not include atheism/agnosticism, which are not options to theism, but rather lack thereof. After all, god is the unnecessary postulate, and not believing in it does not make one a believer.

    As we see the Enlightenment ideals are still to be fought for, even in a "secular" society like Sweden, which is quite puritan (as many of your blog articles are essentially about).

  12. Awe man I saw that ad. I thought it was some peace message about "can't we all just get along?" I assumed it was saying come on Swedish Christians, immigrant Jews and Muslims, we are all basically the same, we all love God, lets just be buddies. Haha. Maybe if I knew Swedish by now I wouldn't have thought it was one big, pro-God poster...jeeze. I need to speed up the studying.

  13. I think this is actually a mass advertisement campaign by Humanists. I saw several buses in Glasgow Scotland with the same advert (minus the play on the Swedish flag, etc). Being American too, I had a good laugh and was a bit thrown off guard to see a double decker bus drive by with that on it. One of those 'You'd never see this at home' moments for me..

  14. The same campaign was making waves in Spain not so long ago. People really took it to heart. The Church even started its own God Probably Does Exist campaign and the two were in competition for al available ad space! It was crazy.

    Like Swedes, a lot of Spaniards aren't religious but most do seem to be spiritual and despite Spain's lack of a state church (at least these days), the overwhelming majority consider ourselves to be Catholic. We don't go to mass but we do bargain with God when things go wrong and to not be invited to a first communion is a serious insult! We also benefit from the Christian holiday thing. I'd never heard of Ascension before but we do celebrate the Assumption of Mary. Funny that.

  15. There was a similar campaign here in the US. It made a play on the christmas carol: "Why believe in God? Be good for goodness sake." Which I didn't find too offensive but some did. And likewise launched a counter campaign.

    Some wikipedia entries are better than others, and for this, I find it intesting that the disagreements about belief are found amongst theists and atheists.
    Yes, that someone could hold another to a yardstick of nonbelief... really is something I'd never thought of before. My point: there's all sorts.

  16. And I thought it said "Good Finns don't nog" but I don't know what nogging is (I have a few theories, however)

  17. "But I have no problem with people believing in something"

    Lets say Im a nazi. You dont have any problems with my beliefs?

    I sure do have problems with people believing in things thats obviously wrong.

  18. @terander – I did. And I love it.

    @Johan – That is pretty impressive. Even more so when you look at the numbers that are still members of the church.

    @Leonard – cases like yours probably confuse the humanists quite a bit. So good work. I came to Sweden just over two years ago.

    @glamorous – a good point, there always seems to be someone going to the extreme. Everyone from the Jehovah’s witnesses to the atheists.

    @E – they say that they want to get people thinking about what role God plays in society whether you believe or not. But Im kind of with you. It seems like they fear competition.

    @Sassa – some things just aren’t meant to be changed. And the Swedes love Christmas. And Midsummer. A nice little mix of pagan and Christian.

    @nevil – that is a good point. Ive actually spoken to a few people who don’t mind that at all because the fee is so little.

    But you’re right, Im sure plenty of those seven million people are just quietly paying the tax.

    @Isle Dance – a good point. It is interesting to see how beliefs change through the generations. What will be interesting is to see whether the younger generations, as they grow older, become more religious.

    @Smek – That is an interesting point. So if the recession continues and we end up in some new depression maybe people will turn to God instead.

    @Tobias – that is true. Plenty of celebrations have similar backgrounds. Christinaity was very good at adapting so the local population would accept it. Although, Christmas as most people know it today is very much a Christian holiday.

    @James – you’re right, this post could have delved much deeper into all sorts of different things. Because, as I said, I am not religious at all, but I most definitely put value in concepts. Ideas. Beliefs. Although, I choose not to value religious beliefs in my personal life.

    The lack thereof is an interesting point. I really do see it as another option to religion. Believing. Not believing. Not sure of believing. They are all options. And everyone makes a choice. Especially in Sweden, where so many different aspects of life still have hints of religion. The Lutheran work ethic that so many people talk about as just one example.

    @m8 – wel, I suppose some might argue that it is a message of peace and that if religion were eliminated, people would have one less thing to fight about.

    @Abby – I seem to remember reading about a similar campaign in the UK a while ago but can’t remember at all who was behind it. I agree though, this doesn’t seem like something that would be seen in the US. Although it would be fun to try, just to see the reaction.

    @ Xoán-Wahn – For some reason I don’t imagine the Swedish church coming with a competing ad campaign. Although, I would welcome it, if only because it would entertain me.

    I have always seen Spain as a very Catholic country. But you are definitely not the first person to tell me that many people, despite considering themselves Catholic, aren’t all that religious. But I think we can all agree, an extra day off from work isn’t a bad thing. No matter what the reason.

    @Stu – Oooh, I like that. Im kind of bummed I missed it. Especially the timing of it all.

    @Richard – close… but I like it.

    @anonymous – you’re a nazi? That’s not nice at all.

    See what I did there? I took what you wrote out of context. Just like you took a post focusing on religion and faith and tried to turn it into all beliefs. It was a good try.

    But no, I do not have a problem with people believing in religion. Or having faith. As long as it is not taken to an extreme an pushed on me, I think it can be a positive thing.

  19. Hah. I was actually thinking that you would probably bring this campaign up in this blog when I saw it.

  20. Kinda silly bringing up traditions as a point to religious hypocrisy I think. Religion is never good and the sooner we get rid of it the better.

  21. @shima - great minds think alike.

    @anonymous - most of those traditions are based on religion. so not really silly at all in my opinion. which is why I did it.

  22. Last Christmas I was invited to a Carol service and I really didnt want to go. On top of it being a 'church thing', I had to meet the then girlfriends parents for the first time.

    One of the reasons I wasnt really looking forward to it was the inevitable bit of bible bashing from the pulpit but surprisingly enough there was no lecture or sermon but a very good choir singing some yuletide numbers and that was it!

  23. Most people don't know what they mean so they are not religious any more, just traditions.

  24. @Let me Tell You - a goo point. church things in Sweden tend to be pretty easy to handle. one of the benefits I suppose of that secular society.

    @anonymous - to some people they aren't religious. but plenty people still remember the religious ideals behind the traditions. in the end, you can't just ignore the cause of something.

  25. Staten separerade ifrån kyrkan någon gång runt 2000. Fram tills dess var alla automatiskt medlemmar och betalade kyrkskatt(eller så var alla tvungna, även de som bad att inte vara medlemmar)

    De flesta i Sverige konfirmerar/gifter sig/håller dop i kyrkans regi, men jag tvivlar på att det finns särskilt många som går på gudstjänst varje söndag. Känner inte en enda person.

  26. @m8surf

    I guess the message could be interpreted as "come on Swedish Christians, immigrant Jews and Muslims, we are all basically the same, we all don't really believe in God".


    Another benefit of being a member of the Swedish church is that it allows you to get married and burried (hopefully not on the same day) at a church. Even atheist and non-religious people enjoy doing so (just view the row about homosexuals getting married in Swedish Churches).

    As to Midsummer. I can't think of any midsummer activity that can be associated with Christianity. As for Christmas itself, two of its strongest symbols, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree, have litte to do with Christianity. The Swedish version of Santa Claus (Tomten) is a mixture of old folklore (hustomten, eller vätten) and Coca-cola's jolly mascot. The Christmas tree is a revival of the pagan tree worshiping ceremonies of old (revived with the rejection of the Catholic Church in the 1500s) same goes for Halloween which is also a pagan holiday.


  27. Gud finns nog inte....

    Säg istället att Gud inte finns, tills motsatsen är bevisad... (A)

  28. I'm a atheist, secularist and humanist. I believe in mankind, not god or gods.

    It may seem strange and a bit odd that you'd advertise "God probably doesn't exist". But a true atheist will acknowledge the possibility that there might be a god. An atheist rejects the idea of god because of philosophical reasons - not because of evidence. Atheists aren't sure that god doesn't exist, we just don't want/think he or she or it or them does.

    It's also really stupid to claim that just because we Swedes celebrate Christmas, we have to be Christians. We celebrate the tradition of Christmas, not the actually holiday. It's tradition, it doesn't mean anything! We dance around a pole on midsummer too, but that doesn't mean that we believe that it will help fertility. It's just silly fun.

    And these ads aren't some form of secret conspiracy by "the humanists". It started with Richard Dawkins starting his "god probably doesn't exist" campaign in Britain. Like it or not. Thereafter several atheistic and humanistic and secularist groups started to join together. There's so secret pact or something.

    You religious people better get used to the fact that atheism is spreading, it's not just a fling and it's spreading fast.

  29. @anonymous – that is what I would be interested in knowing, how many people actually go to church on Sundays. But you do point out something interesting, that so many people continue to be baptized, confirmed, and married in the church.

    @anonymous – ooh I like the point about getting married in the church. Is the argument more about being allowed to marry in the church because it is the church, or is it more because a group of people is being prohibited from doing something? I’m guessing it is more of the latter. But still interesting.

    @Nikki – theres an idea. Go all out instead of allowing doubt into the statement and wait for proof that God does exist. Surprising actually that a group that says they don’t believe in God wouldn’t do just that.

    @anonymous – I think I might have to argue a bit. An atheist does not doubt that God exists. An atheist says there is no God. Agnostics on the other hand acknowledge the possibility that God exists.

    And back to the tradition thing. I never said that just because Swedes celebrate Christmas they are Christian. But it is ridiculous to ignore the religious undertones of so many of those traditions.

    Im not really sure where the conspiracy theory came from. Can’t seem to find a conspiracy comment from the “religious people” as you say. I think most people realize that the role of God or religion in everyday life is dwindling.

  30. I have discovered something. Not believing in god has become the religion in Sweden. If you're born in a Muslim country, you're probably gonna be a Muslim. If you're born in a Christian country you're probably gonna be a Christian. When i ask people WHY they don't believe in god, it's revealed to me that most of them haven't thought about it much. WHY don't people THINK about it!? If you're a Christian, wouldn't you want to know why Christianity is correct and all the others are wrong? That would be my first question before joining ANY religion. Anyway, all people are the same. No one thinks about these things. I'm thankful the religion in Sweden has become "Atheism" though.

  31. see and thats the thing that really got me the most. the hypocrisy of it all. and their website really hammered that home to me.

  32. Not sure you fully understand the difference between tradition and belief. Perhaps because you grew up in one of the most religious countries. I'm myself an atheist, but I still attend the midnight mass on Christmas Eve because it's a tradition. I also watch Donald Duck every Christmas because it's a tradition. People enjoy traditions.

    You say belief is good. Why is it good? Because most Americans profess belief in God? Religion is nothing but the brainwashing of the masses... and has probably started more wars than anything else in history. I think those practicing certain religious teachings should ask themselves why God blesses some countries more so than others.

    "My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that's going to make him blind. And [I ask them], 'Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child's eyeball? Because that doesn't seem to me to coincide with a God who's full of mercy'."

    David Attenborough 2005

  33. Where's the hypocrazy? Where's the extremism? I for one have never heard of humanist strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up innocent people.

    Welcome to Sweden. Where reason trumps religion.

  34. @anonymous – Ah, thank you for enlightening me to the differences between belief and tradition. I had no idea you know, because I’m an American. Now I understand.

    I’m fully aware of the differences between religion and belief. That’s why I celebrate Christmas despite not believing in God. It’s tradition. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that many of those traditions began with religion. Of some sort.

    Belief is good. You’ll notice I didn’t say specifically belief in God was good. Belief is good. I believe in lots of things. I believe in people being inherently good. I believe in a good book changing a life. I believe in gummy bears making me smile.

    Belief is being able something without always analyzing it in minutiae and that’s exactly why its good.

    @Anders – the hypocrisy is in that a group that professes to be against organized religion is setting itself up in the same model as organized religion. They want members. They want donations. They want you to subscribe to their way of thinking.

    And by the way, nowhere at all do I subscribe to the idea that extremism is good. In fact, I have expressly stated numerous times in this blog that extremism to any extent isn’t good.

    Welcome to Sweden. Where people are blinded by their subscription to their way of life.

  35. They have nothing against organized communities, they just don't like brainwashing of the masses, i.e. religion.

    I don't see the hypocrazy, but of course, I'm just a characterless drone blinded by my subscription to Runner's World.

    Welcome to Sweden. Where running is a way of life.

  36. oh ok. so, brainwashing, which has the following definition from Merriam-Webster:

    1 : a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas
    2 : persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship

    isn't ok. That's interesting. Because that definition fits, damn near like a glove, to what the humanist campaign is doing.

    Trying to convince someone to give up their beliefs in religion and believe in something else. And doing so by persuasion or salesmanship. You know, like an ad campaign At least it isn't forcible. Of course, plenty of religions aren't forcible either.

    That is hypocrisy. Not hypocrazy. Which, while a cute play on words Anders, is just getting a little old.

    Welcome to Sweden. Where hypocrisy runs true in the humanist movement.

  37. The Merriam-Webster's definition of hypocrisy is the following

    1: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not ; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion
    2: an act or instance of hypocrisy

    These people work voluntarily for something they believe in, therefore no hypocrisy.

    Welcome to Sweden. Where hypocrisy is spelt hypocrazy.

  38. well played, however, I will stick with the second part of that definition: "especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion"

    they are claiming that their way is the right way and the only way. plenty of people would argue that to be a false assumption.

    Therefore, shades of hypocrisy.

    I would like to point out that my views align more with the humanists on this one. At best I am agnostic. Just throwing it out there.

  39. oooo. I don't like that campain. What do they mean "gud finns nog inte" what the hell are they basing that on? Humanisterna seem to think that what science can show us right now is all there is to this world, and that is THEIR god, but they don't see that.

    btw love your blog.

  40. @Johanna They're basing it on the lack of empirical evidence for the existence of god. So in a sense, you're right: all they are saying is that their no scientific evidence for god, which is pretty much all they can say.

    Science is not their god, although in many ways science fills similar functions (psychologically, socially) that monotheism once did. This is similar to saying atheists' god is atheism, which is incorrect, because atheism is a disbelief in any god. As such, if atheists' lack-of-god is their god, then it follows that Christians are not MONOtheists because they also believe in the many other gods that do not exist for them.

  41. P.S. @Johanna You can ask the same question to theists. What are they basing that (their belief) on?

    It is god that is the unnecessary hypothesis, not the lack of god. Read for instance about Russell's argument here: ( In Swedish:
    In English: )

  42. @Johanna - that's the tricky thing for them, basing it on something. because they would have to prove a negative. Which might be why the throw in the probably. It's an interesting campaign, and I think Im kind of with you, many people o treat science as their god.

    @James - well said. and some very good points. Although, I do think that some, not all, but some people treat science as a god. But your explanation that it fills similar functions I think is right on.

  43. I'm sorry, I know it's old but I have to write my opinion...

    I agree about the hypocrisy, but where's the extremism? "God probably doesn't exist"? Seems like a pretty moderate statement to me. At least compared to the counter campaign made by members of some British church which had the message "God definitely exists!".

    I don't like organized religion because I think it inhibits individual thought. As does the Humanists. My belief is that there's probably no god, but I would never join an organization like the Humanists, where they would try to indoctrinate me to to their thoughts and ideology.

  44. that they have gone to the extreme of putting out an entire ad campaign that is recruiting people to their own sense of belief. or non-belief.

    mostly I just dont like having this nonsense pushed on me by people. regardless of their beliefs.

  45. Well, I wouldn't call that extremism, I would call that perfect irony.

    I agree. In fact, I don't like any organizations based on the idea that everyone in it should think and believe the same. It doesn't matter if it's churches, mosques, synagogues, the Humanists, political parties. I just don't like it. People should be allowed to have their own personal belief. Organized religion is just indoctrination, or brainwash, whichever word you like the best.

  46. I don't like political ads, either. When ideology becomes a product I become deeply uninterested in it.

  47. I suppose that leads to the question of how people are supposed to get their message out. The whole marketing question really except for a political or religious group.

  48. God says it's Ok and fine to not believe in him. Not to worry.

  49. @Melanie Stephan - the Swedes appreciate that.

  50. i don't know why, but this makes me angry. i hate the fact that they are forcing their ideals onto society---yes, i think thats it.
    they're hypocrites, and for some reason, although completely unrelated, when i read about them, my mind automatically thinks of Scientologist.... i know they're unrelated, like i mentioned, but you cant deny the similarities in "crazy"

  51. well the same can be said for any religions that tries to force ideas on someone. whether that religion is atheism, scientology, or christianity

  52. what if you are wrong and God does exist

  53. @What if some other delusional thing humans believe in exists? What if your soul is eternal? What if... What if...?

    Excellent argument technique, I must say.

  54. @anonymous - then I will burn in eternal hellfire. Or something like that. Either way, Ill take my chances.

    @anonymous - nuanced and well thought out really.

  55. I would call myself an non-believer. I do believe there has to be something/someone that caused everything to happen. But no god or good and evil. That stuff is silly.

    But the religion that made the most sense to me (like, ever) is whatever they believed in norse mytholigy.

    They're not botherd with what's considerd good and evil. Murder is ok, plundering too. Being brave is rewarded.

    It seems like a very realistic point of view. I can't expect some "god" to bring down justice on people who do me wrong. That's just a confort to convert people.

    If i was gullable I would believe there's a heaven. Simply because someone told me and I believe them.
    If I'm not gullable i have to be convinced. The best way to do this (convince me) is probably to pick at me when I'm emotionally weak. Many religions have this. There's very much to gain for the people that have high "rank" in a religious community. I couldn't possibly take their word for it as I am right now. But if my mother was very ill i would love to have the confort of knowing that if she dies she will go to a better place.

    I think religion worked well for a long time. I kept the laws in a decent state for a long time.

    Nowdays i think religion is more constricting than productive. Many societies have laws that are completely independant of religion.

    Who knows what would happen if people didn't have the promise of eternal life if they did good?

    Btw: One of the main reasons I like Sweden so much is that people are not over-zealous about religion most of the time. I don't think I have ever found a person that believes strongly enough about something to do something crazy or evil from my perspective. I have even found a priest, the one who confirmed me. I'm sure you're aware about how lose we are on that subject over here. I just did it for the experience. Was a great few months at camp. This priest didn't believe in most parts of the bibel. But she said that she thought it was alot like a history book.
    The victors write it. She did believe fully in this whole god/jesus/holy spirit stuff. She wouldn't be a priest otherwise :)

  56. Atheists can also think that the existance of a god or gods is possible. This confused me at first too... there are so many terms regarding the issue it is kind of ridiculous. But uh, strong atheists feel there is definitely no god. Weak atheists also think there is no god, but don't claim to have proof of it (so they accept it is _possible_ that god exists). Weak atheism is pretty similar to agnostism, but they aren't the same. It is easier to get when you're not talking about god. If we were talking about the Loch Ness monster, strong alochists (silly word I made up just now) would say there is absolutely no Loch Ness monster. Lochists would say there is definitely a loch ness monster. Agnostics would say they don't know, even if they are inclined to believe one thing or another. Weak alochists though would say there is no loch ness monster- there may be little doubt in their position, but they would be open to the possibility (so if people found evidence of the Loch Ness monster, they would consider it, unlike the strong alochists).

    Sorry for the long post. :C But I had to say it because it makes me feel bad seeing the terrible image atheists have. They've kind of gained a reputation as hypocritical, nihilist religion-haters. Like in any group, there's a loud minority that makes everyone else look bad. Most atheists I have met are the kind that apply at least a little skeptism to everything, even the idea that god does not exist. Personally, I feel nobody should be harrassed for their beliefs, as long as they don't harm people (at least, people that haven't harmed other people). For all I care you could believe in a magical tiger egg demon god king, as long as you are a good person and don't use that as an excuse to oppress minorites or wage wars. Everyone needs to respect each other.

    Also though, I think it is natural for people to want to spread their beliefs. They believe what they believe because they think it is correct. Of course Christians want to convert people- they think they are spreading the truth, thereby helping others. Atheists are the same. While many don't care, I think a lot see believers the way most people see conspiracy theorists. It just kind of nags at them. Anyway debate is healthy as long as people can agree to disagree and accept each other, so I don't think the campaign is bad, just like I don't mind when religious people try to sell their religion. Unless it's a scam-cult or something.

    Wow that ended up being a longer afternote thing than I expected. Anyway I really like your blog, your posts are very amusing, go Sweden!

  57. Good comments! I'm not religious at all, but I am working to be a bit better at not reacting so negatively to extremely religious beliefs.