Intelligent Design

Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?

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Denmark and Sweden are two countries which are often cited by atheists as proof that secular morality can work. Professor Jerry Coyne, for instance, has written dozens of articles praising Denmark (see here for instance, and see also here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). At the end of one here, directed at Rabbi Joseph Sacks, Coyne writes:

My answer is this: Sweden and Denmark, dear Rabbi. Are those countries, which are largely atheistic, immoral and falling apart? I don’t think so.

And what about this?

If Scruton wants to see how much a truly secular society devalues the sacred, I suggest that he get himself to Sweden or Denmark. Do the Danes and Swedes abjure what Scruton calls the “sacred”? Do they not value life and love and art? Not that I’ve seen! Do they not appreciate knowledge and literature? Who, after all, gives out the Nobel Prizes?

Or this?

If atheism really did dispose of morality, why are countries like Sweden and Denmark, which are largely atheistic, still moral? Are they deluding themselves? No, they have good secular reasons to adhere to moral principles.

Or this?

Perhaps one happy day we’ll be like Denmark!

Perhaps Coyne might be interested to read an eye-opening article by Carol Brown over at American Thinker on what is happening in Denmark. Ms. Brown paints a terrifying portrait of a society which is falling apart under the influence of religiously motivated violence. Crime in Denmark has exploded, and street gangs “have taken over large parts of Danish towns and cities. There are numerous “no go” zones where even the police are afraid to venture. Is this Coyne’s idea of a successful secular society?

Some morals to be drawn from Brown’s article:

1. Not all forms of religion are good; some are toxic.

2. Nature abhors a vacuum. Secularism is powerless to drive out toxic forms of religion.

3. The only proven way to drive out toxic forms of religion, and keep them out, is with wholesome forms of religion.

What do readers think?

43 Replies to “Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?

  1. 1
    Mark Frank says:

    VJ

    This may just be the worst OP you have ever posted.  You have read a rabid anti-muslim article which gives an incredibly misleading picture of crime in Denmark based on anecdotal evidence (and then suggests that the same thing is about to happen in not-so-secular USA). In fact, violent crime in Denmark has always been low and is dropping; while non-violent crime rates have never been particularly low but are also dropping (same reference).
    You then go on to argue that because a peaceful, tolerant secular society is endangered by a religious minority the problem lies with the secular society for not being religious enough!

  2. 2
    Peter says:

    The real problem with secular states is the below replacement fertility rate. Denmark has a fertility rate of 1.73, or a social mortality rate of 18% per generation. In about 300 years over 90% will have disappeared. This is genocide by the definition of the world court – preventing babies from being born. Secularism -> feminism -> destruction of the traditional family -> extinction, hardly in women’s best interests. This is the path of every secular society, so eat this idiot Coyne.

    “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. I love the double meaning in this quote. Not only can you bear no religious fruit, i.e. your congregations will wither, but it is also true of life in general. As we all know, Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.

    Or even more succinctly:

    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5. Most people misinterpret meek. They think timid. The bible is a religious book. Meek means obedient to God.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    methinks me smell something rotten in Mr. Franks citation,,,

    Denmark Crime Stats –
    “Denmark has one of the highest total number of crimes globally, with 491,026 crimes reported in 2002 – the 24th highest. Indeed, some 23% of the population claim to have been victims of a crime. Despite these facts, Danish people believe that their country is one of the safest, with 81% stating they feel they can walk in the dark safely, and 71% admitting their are satisfied with police efficiency.”
    http://www.nationmaster.com/co.....mark/Crime

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    Is the point that secular morality can be undermined by religious immorality? Or are you saying that a peaceful, secular and liberal nation can be easily abused by religious zealots?

    Or are you warning us that if we become like Denmark then we we too will be easily abused? Because I am sure there are plenty of people already abusing us, ie the system.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    The argument for Atheism in this case goes somewhat like this,,,

    Sure China and Russia, where atheism was the enforced state religion, massacred millions of their own people, but just look at Sweden and Denmark who are still nursing off the teat of a Judeo-Christian foundation! they are not massacring millions of their own people, and are relatively peaceful,,,

    Small comfort for those who lived through the horrors of the 20th century!

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Mark Frank says:

    BA77 #6

    If you can’t tell the difference between a report based on figures and anecdotal tales selected to support a political position then you are in for a life-time of illusions.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Frank, are you saying that those events did not occur and that my link for crime that is ‘based on figures’ is invalid?

    But why should your figures matter more than mine that contradicted your claims, and why should ‘on the scene’ news reports of Muslim gang violence, ‘no go zones’, sharia law, etc.. in Denmark, be discounted as not trustworthy by you?

    It is clear you are merely trying to score rhetorical points and are as dishonest as to the actual evidence at hand as ever! par for the course with you!

    I’m sure Dr. Torley will unpack all of this more fully and I don’t see it ending well for you when all the facts are on the table.

  9. 9

    We are at the beginning of the age when atheists find out how much of the world they enjoy today – including individual freedom and rights – only exists due to the Western world’s Judeo-Christian foundation. Once you rip that out, it’s nothing but might makes right all the way down.

  10. 10
    Andre says:

    Zoophilia is of course legal in Denmark and its animal brothels draw huge crowds, there are talks of banning bestiality but it looks like the attempt to create the law will collapse, because people sure love their sexual relationships with animals in Denmark…..

  11. 11
    Andre says:

    Forgot to add, the rightousess take care of his animals, the mercy of the picked is cruel.

    One of the beautiful Proverbs of the bible.

  12. 12
    Andre says:

    Oops the wicked….

  13. 13
    drc466 says:

    For one, why would Coyne say that Denmark and Sweden are largely atheistic? As pointed out by ba77, their culture is built on Christianity – Denmark even has a state church, if I’m not mistaken. Even you accept the unsubstantiated assertion that most current Danes are not religious (most polls I’ve seen put the number of “atheists” at &lt 25%), you have to admit that their current culture of respect for rule of law, legal system, and existing laws were formulated and implemented under Christianity.

    Yet another case of modern-day atheists trying to steal credit for what Christianity built. Ho-hum.

    As for the point of the OP – one of the things that seems to happen frequently is that, as Muslim populations move in and build local enclaves, crime tends not to be reported or enforced as often in those areas (c.f. Britain’s recent issues). Thus, it is possible for reported crime rates to go down (MF) and yet crime still be on the rise (OP).

  14. 14
    Dionisio says:

    In the video within the below link, Professor Brian Leiter (is he Christian?) apparently says (around mark 30) that the concept of liberty of conscious so embedded in western democracy was a product of the Protestant reformation:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-religion/

  15. 15
    Mark Frank says:

    #13 drc466

    If, as you claim, Denmark is not largely atheistic then presumably we cannot draw two of the morals that VJ proposed:

    2. Nature abhors a vacuum. Secularism is powerless to drive out toxic forms of religion.

    3. The only proven way to drive out toxic forms of religion, and keep them out, is with wholesome forms of religion.

  16. 16
    groovamos says:

    Do the Danes and Swedes … not appreciate knowledge and literature? Who, after all, gives out the Nobel Prizes?

    Norwegians, after all. After all, Coyne really got it together, cuz you know, he’s cutting edge after all.

  17. 17
    OldArmy94 says:

    The Scripture tells us that God has ordained all secular authority, and He uses godless men to enforce order upon the earth. Otherwise, mankind would cease to exist due to our bloodlust for one another.

  18. 18

    Atheist in these “enlightened countries” are living off of the fumes of a religious past in their cultures.

    The real point is that they are inconsistent with their atheism. Whether they are moral or not doesn’t matter, because all is just atoms bouncing around.

    The fact they don’t or can’t believe consistently with their atheism is what is interesting.

  19. 19
    Andre says:

    I think religious instruction is still mandatory in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland

  20. 20
    Dionisio says:

    16 groovamos

    Doesn’t Oslo host the issuing of the Nobel Peace Price, which is kind of poorly regarded in certain circles, because it has been given to some controversial figures in modern history?
    The more serious Nobel prizes are given in Stockholm.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Andre at 10, just when I thought I had heard everything,,,

    VIDEO: Vice shines light on bestiality in Denmark – 27 Aug 2014
    http://www.thelocal.dk/2014082.....in-denmark

    I’m speechless, Mr. Frank, you being the resident atheist liberal, can you enlighten me???

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    sanity still exists,,, yesterday they banned it

    Sex with animals banned in Denmark after outcry over legal loophole: Minister acts after country became magnet for sex tourists – Oct. 13, 2014
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....rists.html

  23. 23
    drc466 says:

    @15 MF

    If, as you claim, Denmark is not largely atheistic

    Technically, I didn’t make that claim – I merely asked where Coyne was getting that rather dubious information from, and making the claim that Denmark is historically religious, regardless of current standing.
    Secondly, and just as technically, it isn’t illogical to assert that as countries grow increasingly atheistic that they also grow increasingly criminal/violent – therefore it is still possible to still hold the two morals listed as valid, without atheism having reached a numerical majority of the population (or however you interpret the fuzzy word “largely”). History is dynamic, after all.

  24. 24
    ringo says:

    Below is an excerpt from the following site on increases in violent crime in European Countries altogether. Denmark is included.

    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa......statistics

    Violent crime
    Data for violent crime comprise violence against the person (such as physical assault), robbery (stealing by force or threat of force) and sexual offences (including rape and sexual assault). A detailed analysis of this type of crime is difficult because not all EU Member States use the standard definition. Furthermore, due to a break in the series, 2012 violent crime data for France exclude crimes recorded by the gendarmerie, therefore, comparisons with total violent crimes registered for the reference year 2011 will be misleading.
    However, the general trend for the EU-28 shows a decline of about 10 % in the number of violent crimes recorded between 2007 and 2012. This overall decline is strongly influenced by the data from England and Wales, where there was a fall of 166 thousand violent crimes recorded between 2007 and 2012 (Table 2). Looking at the other EU Member States, the picture appears heterogeneous, with significant rises between 2007 and 2012 in Luxembourg (38 %), Hungary (26 %) and Denmark (23 %) and large decreases in Lithuania (-42 %), Croatia (-33 %), Scotland (-32 %), Latvia and Slovakia (both -30 %), and Malta (-27 %).

  25. 25
    Dionisio says:

    I recall a story I heard long ago, where someone described a tense situation when their car broke one night in a dark empty street of a city they were passing through. They lifted the car hood but had no idea what was wrong with it and could not see much. The car wouldn’t move. Then they heard the voices of a few men that were approaching them. They could not seem them well, nor could understand what the men were saying.
    Who were they? What were their intentions?

  26. 26
    ringo says:

    I noticed that one of the advisors to the Gatestone Institute was Elie Wiesel. That is a very trustworthy advisor if you ask me. Good source brought up by Born Again!

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    Every October I sit and wait the appearance of the Great Dane.

  28. 28
    Dionisio says:

    #25 follow-up

    The concerned ladies quickly shutdown the hood, sat in their car and locked up the doors. The men approached the driver’s window and asked what was wrong. The nervous lady sitting in front of the steering wheel tried to start the car to no avail. One of the men asked the ladies to release the hood. He lifted it and asked the ladies if they had a flashlight they could borrow. Carefully the lady in the passenger seat rolled down her window just enough for the flash light to fit through. The men tried for a while, but soon gave up, so they asked the ladies to set the car on neutral gear and they pushed the car to an illuminated parking lot, where they called a friend auto mechanic, who came quickly and took care of the problem. The men gave directions to the ladies, so they could continue their trip. The ladies thanked the men for the help. The men said they all should thank God for everything. It turned out those men were going home after a church meeting, and had decided to take a shortcut through that dark empty street.
    Then I heard a nasty ring. It was my alarm clock. The dream was over. It was time to get up and go back to the mission field: this world.

  29. 29
    Mark Frank says:

    Ringo #24

    Fair enough – I had not realised violent crime in Denmark had risen until 2011. It dropped in 2012. I can’t see any 2013 figures. These are absolute crime rates. I can’t be bothered to work out per capita rates. Anyhow it is hardly the picture of a country torn apart by Muslim immigration.

    #26

    The presence of Elie Wiesel as an advisor to Gatestone does not make specific stories written by that institute trustworthy. Just read them. They are all anecodotal and clearly polemical in purpose.

  30. 30
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Mark Frank,

    Thank you for your post. You will have noticed that nowhere in my OP did I mention Islam or Muslims. There was a reason for that. I don’t know whether Islamic societies in the future will prove that they are able to accept secular democracy, with a separation of mosque and State.

    Regarding the crime statistics I cite, see these reports, which are hardly anecdotal:

    http://www.gatestoneinstitute......gs-denmark
    http://www.gatestoneinstitute......im-country
    http://islamversuseurope.blogs.....ce-no.html
    http://www.trykkefrihed.dk/the.....enmark.htm

    The presence of polemic in a news story does not make it unreliable.

    The Gatestone Institute sounds pretty legitimate to me:

    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/about/
    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/experts/

    Finally, pointing out that the crime rate in Denmark is low when compared to America’s, isn’t saying much. The relevant comparison is with Denmark 10 or 20 years ago.

  31. 31
    wallstreeter43 says:

    http://itsnobody.wordpress.com.....-peaceful/

    Religious countries in Northern/Western Europe with lower murder rates than New Zealand, Denmark, and Sweden:
    – Austria
    – SwitzerlandAustria is one of the most religious countries in Northern/Western Europe according to the 2005 Eurobarometer poll, and Austria’s murder rate is lower than all atheist countries in Europe and lower than every single US state as well.
    Less Religious and atheistic countries with high murder rates:
    – Estonia
    – Latvia
    – North Korea

    Estonia is the country in Europe with the lowest percentage of believers in God (lower than all the other countries in Europe) according to the 2005 Eurobarometer poll and 2008 Gallup poll and Estonia’s murder rate is consistently one of the very highest in Northern Europe year after year.

    So this claim has thoroughly been falsified by me with counterexamples to both (religious countries with low murder rates and atheistic countries with high murder rates).

    I wonder why atheists conveniently leave out Estonia when mentioning how peaceful atheist countries are? It’s probably because they feel bad that multiple sources clearly show that Estonia is the least religious country in the world and that Estonia consistently has the highest or one of the highest murder rates in Europe.

    Sources for Religiosity:
    – 2005 Eurostat Eurobarometer poll (http://ec.europa.eu/public_opi.....ort_en.pdf)
    – 2008 Gallup poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/114.....igion.aspx)

    Sources for murder rates:
    – UNODC crime statistics (http://www.unodc.org/documents.....cs2012.xls)
    – Eurostat crime statistics (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa......006-EN.PDF)

  32. 32
    tintinnid says:

    Why don’t we look a little closer to home. Canada, by any definition, is far more secular than the US. And Americans, have a much higher proportion of theists than Canada. Yet the rates of crime in Canada are significantly lower than in the US.

  33. 33
    Mark Frank says:

    #31 ws

    Thanks for that. Nothing wrong with the sources! Unfortunately the result seems inconclusive.

    I don’t think it is possible to draw any sensible conclusions about the relationship between religion and violence in Europe. The figures show no correlation and there are so many other factors. Lithuania and Estonia are clear outliers. Also homicides rates are so low compared to other crimes it is hard to reach much into them. There are only about 70 murders a year in Estonia – in a population of 1.3 million.

  34. 34
    ringo says:

    Mark, that is good point about Weisel. What I meant really was that I do not think someone like Weisel would be associated with a heavily biased or corrupt source. And I was not trying to hide the 2013 crime stats from the source I used. I could not find 2013. But, you are right it did drop a little in 2012. It still on the avg. has increased.

  35. 35
    Turbokid says:

    Anyone who has studied criminology will tell you the link between reported crime and actual crime is quite tenuous. Reported crime goes up and down for all sorts of reasons unrelated to the levels of actual offending.

  36. 36
    BM40 says:

    2
    Peter October 14, 2014 at 7:22 am

    The real problem with secular states is the below replacement fertility rate. Denmark has a fertility rate of 1.73, or a social mortality rate of 18% per generation. In about 300 years over 90% will have disappeared.

    That’s exactly what the Nazis said about Jews, Sinti and Roma.

  37. 37
    Mark Frank says:

    Stepping back a moment – much of this comparison is irrelevant.

    The Scandinavian countries (and actually much of Western Europe) are not being used to make the case that atheism makes you more moral. They are being used as counterexamples to those who would argue that atheism leads to some kind of moral and cultural collapse – based primarily on the ex-communist regimes. It is irrelevant if other countries with higher levels of religiousity have somewhat lower (or higher) crime rates. It is also perverse if a religious minority gives peaceful, secular, tolerant countries a hard time to blame the secular countries for not being religious enough.

  38. 38
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Frank, as to ‘moral or cultural collapse’, what was your reaction to 21 and 22???,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-519302

    In which they had to actually pass a law telling people in Denmark that they ought not run animal brothels?

    Myself, I am upset that they would even have to tell people that this it is wrong to rent animals out for sex, much less have sex with them. That Denmark would even have to pass a law informing people that sex with animals is not a ‘morally’ right thing to do is a sure sign that a culture is in the midst of ‘moral or cultural collapse’.

    But as a liberal atheist, how do you react to the development? Are you, like I, upset that a formerly Christian culture would degrade to such a low standard of morality??

    Or are you instead upset that people are not more accepting of people who have ‘alternate’ sexual preferences? i.e. Do you want people with ‘alternate’ sexual preferences to have the ability to marry whatever species of animal they have a preference for? and are you upset that people with a sense of ‘moral decency’ strongly object to such notions? If not, why not? i.e. where do you ground your moral ‘ought not’ for sex with animals?

    I believe PZ Myers daughter even wrote a article defending sex with animals,,, do you agree or disagree with her?

  39. 39
    tragic mishap says:

    I can only think about what standard we are supposed to use when making judgments about whether religions are “wholesome” or not. Isn’t religion the standard by which we judge right and wrong?

  40. 40
    Peter says:

    BM40 at 36

    “That’s exactly what the Nazis said about Jews, Sinti and Roma.”

    This is a non sequitor, or just illogical. I have no idea of what you are talking about. The Nazi’s said no such things. The Nazi’s believed other races were inferior and they had the right, because of evolution, to exterminate the weak for the betterment of society. That has nothing to do with what I said.

  41. 41
    BM40 says:

    And why do you think they were afraid of other races? Whenever it fits the purposes some of you (I don’t mean all UD contributors here) you bring up a direct link that led from Darwin to Hitler. At the same time you are quite willing to make similar racist arguments. If you think Jews, Sinti and Roma were a bad example what then about the disabled? E.g., here? and here.

  42. 42
    Peter says:

    BM4O at 41

    I still don’t understand what racist statement you think I made, because I didn’t make any. My point is that all secular people, regardless of race will go extinct because of their secularism. This is true in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, i.e. every European state and Canada and the Whites in the United States. The White race will be all but extinct in 200 years.

    I don’t understand how that relates to what you are saying. I am not saying anything about how one race may be treating another. Secularism destroys its host more surely than ebola. What do you think would happen if 25 percent of the Whites in Amnerica were killed by ebola. There would be an uproar. But because it is a failure to reproduce, and this is God’s way of eradicating useless societies, now one cares. Just think about that for a while. Twenty five percent of a population disappears in a generation, and because it is White nobody cares. That shows how serious it is. No on can stop it. Not academia, not politicians, not the army. The only way to stop it would be for the people to return to a life following the bible. That’s not going to happen. The disappearing Whites will be replaced by immigration, legal or otherwise.

    I hope this better explains my point of view. I am not talking about how one race treats another. I am talking about what happens to a people when they turn away from Christianity and fail to live according to God’s plan.

  43. 43
    peter b says:

    A sensible course of action for vjtorley would be to take a sabbatical and go to Copenhagen for a year. Nothing like actual experience. The climate is windy and cold, and conducive to thinking. Quite a high number of intelligent people around there, good company. vjtorley might try how he likes it.

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