The Swedish Faith In God Or Not

By | Thursday, Sep 20, 2007

When it comes to religion in Sweden, it’s said that about 75-80 % belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden.

I believe that’s a bit misleading facts, since many Swedes only belongs to the church because up to 1996 in Sweden, you were automatically a member of the Swedish Church when you were born – as long as you didn’t manually cancel your membership.

Many Swedes have during the latest years (since the seventies) done just that – step out from the Swedish Church. The main reason for it is that many Swedes don’t have the faith at all – or have a very weak faith in God – and the membership costs you money. You have to pay Church tax if you’re a member – for something you don’t even believe in.

Since 1996, only children that are baptized automatically become members of the Swedish church, which means that the number is decreasing for every year. The Church of Sweden services are very sparsely attended nowadays.

Personally I don’t know any one that attend church services regularly.

We’re just not brought up being active Christians and you know how hard coded everything is that you learn as a child. Only 3 out of 10 Swedes state that they have confidence in the church and only 1 in 10 Swedes thinks religion is important in daily life. Of course that is inherited.

You have to bear in mind that Sweden is a very open-minded country, often at the forefront of change. Maybe it is our heritage from the Norse paganism, when we were worshiping Æsir gods before the eleventh century, I don’t know…

Swedes are characterized by a general confidence in values of liberty and a positive view of frankness, tolerance, trust, and respect for other people, according to a study carried out by Uppsala University.

In the secularized Sweden the church is forced to be very liberal and open to a modern delivery of the Christian faith, which hasn’t been the fact earlier, but might be in change lately. Otherwise the Swedes might feel like the church is too authoritarian – an attitude that modern Swedes simply won’t accept.

Even the mottoes of the Swedish King and Queens has been changed, the last time God were mentioned in a motto was in 1809. Before that God were mentioned in almost every Kings’ motto.

Swedes have had civil marriages since in 1863 and it has been very common for a long period. Recently the church marriages has increased, but mostly because of traditions and because it’s a beautiful or practical place – not from faith in God. To be married in a Swedish church only requires that at least one of the pair is a member of the Lutheran Church of Sweden.

The continue of traditions is very important for Swedes, even traditions that from the beginning were religious, but today the religious meaning is almost gone. We still hold those traditions. (Easter, Christmas etc).

Cut from Wikipedia:

“According to the most recent Eurostat “Eurobarometer” poll, in 2005, 23% of Swedish citizens responded that “they believe there is a god”, whereas 53% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force” and 23% that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force”.

Sweden ranks aside with France and Russia on having a large minority of its citizens who have no religion.

Independent of these statistics, it is generally known that Swedish society, collectively, is comparatively secular and non-religious.

I remember being the only one that refused to go to the confirmation (in the seventies). My classmates did, but not for the right reason – not a single one of them believed in God – they only did it because it’s tradition and for the nice confirmation gifts they would get.

I’ve always been like that, not following the stream, but following my beliefs, even if that has made me the only one going against the stream. My conscious won’t let me do it any other way, it’s as simple as that.

I can’t lie. That’s also the reason for me telling you this, since I feel like it would be false not to tell you my opinion in the matter.

Personally I find it impossible, in this enlightened time we live in now, to believe in something so very abstract and none secular thing as a God up there in the atmosphere. It feels very unreal to me, who is a very realistic person. I face the reality I have in front of me.

I do think that a lot of things that religion hold as sacred, as in the commandments, are positive things, but I just don’t think that it has anything with religion to do – it should be natural to every human being without even being religious.

We are all humans and should look after humanity, not separate us through different religions.

I’ve seen many Christian blogrolls on the internet, but so far, I’ve only found one atheist blogroll. I think it might have something to do with the fact that many persons don’t feel comfortable to come forward with their atheism, since it’s so heavily attacked comparing to if you’re admitting your faith in God.

I believe that every one is entitled to have their own opinion and mine is that there is no God or Gods, so I’ve joined this blogroll, since I feel like that we have the same rights as Christians have to express our opinions.

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I expect you to respect my atheism, just as I will respect your faith in God.

I don’t dislike you if you do have a faith in God or harass any one because of their faith – but I might discuss it with you – all in very friendly terms. Just as I would discuss any other subject where we disagree with each others.

In fact, I do hope that you grab this golden opportunity to discuss this subject here and now!

I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in humanity, friendship and love over the borders :-)

Captain Atheist Lifecruiser

Author: Lifecruiser

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86 thoughts on “The Swedish Faith In God Or Not

  1. A.

    An immensely interesting post Captain. I can’t really enter into a discussion because I agree so much with what you are saying. I would probably describe myself more as an agnostic maybe, perhaps :)

    I’ve been quite surprised by the number of Christian blogs and blogrolls there are, considering how many other religions or non-believers there are around. But by pure chance just the other day I came across an atheist blog. Of course, now I can’t remember where :)

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      I think that most people that don’t have an active faith, tend to describe themselves as agnostics. A kind of hedge maybe?

  2. mar

    Very controversial post, Captain. I have the highest respect for other people’s beliefs as long as they cause no harm …
    I grew up in a Catholic environment in general, but my parents in particular were tired of the compulsory behavior (regarding catholicism) of the prior generation (my grandparents) so we never went to church. But we were nevertheless brought up with values and respect.
    I don’t belong to any church because I haven’t found one that suits me…when asked, I consider myself an agnostic. I question things but I look for spirituality.
    I think you are right: it is difficult to come forward and admit that one doesn’t share a strong faith, one will quickly be called a person without a soul because of that …which is not true.
    I will return for more comments :)

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes the churches has ever done: not adjusting to the people and the development through time.

      Maybe they wouldn’t have lost so many believers otherwise?

      Is the old types of faiths too old fashioned to reach to people today?

      1. Melli

        The CATHOLIC church is having a HUGE problem with this these days! I, myself, was Catholic and when I made the choice to go back to church, I knew I was NOT going back to the Catholic church! But I think changes (BIG changes) are on the horizon for the Catholic church… especially in allowing priests to marry – because if not the will simply cease to have priests! Young men are just NOT signing on for THAT tour of duty!

        1. Lifecruiser Post author

          The Swedish Lutheran Church have to make a lot of changes to be able to even survive a little bit over here, but I’m not sure if it’s already is too late.

        2. Melli

          Mmmm… I don’t think it’s too late. Most people really do want SOMEthing to believe in. Something to help them feel like they are not completely alone in this world when things go wrong – something to offer hope! So I don’t think it’s ever too late! Now… I am a Lutheran these days – but I have to ask … is the Lutheran church the ONLY church in Sweden? There does need to be some other options… just my opinion, of course!

        3. Lifecruiser Post author

          That’s really the most difficult for me to understand, why people need to believe in something else than humanity and love for each others?

          Oh, no, the Lutheran is not the only one, bit it’s the main one. We even have all kind of religions. I don’t have any figures for that right now, but might come back with them later.

        4. Melli

          LC… (about needing something else to believe in…) When you have a loved one who is dying… and it is for certain they are leaving you… do you not need HOPE to see them again one day? What do YOU believe happens when we die?

        5. Lifecruiser Post author

          No, I don’t need hope to see them again. I’m sure that I’ve lived the best way I could with them the time they have here at earth together with me. When they die, it’s very sad of course and difficult to go through, but that’s part of life. We’re born, we live, we die, nothing to do about it but LIVE as best as we can while we can :-)

          When we die, we’re gone. The brain is what I think you think are the soul, so when the brain stops working there is no “soul” any more. The body is just the tool to move around.

          I’ve seen near people and near pets dying, so I know what it’s all about up close. I have no fear of death itself either.

  3. Carver

    This is an excellent post. I am not an atheist but I find it impossible to believe in a God which is created in man’s image. That’s how I see so much of organized religion. I respect others beliefs as long as they don’t hurt anyone but to me if there is a higher power it’s beyond what we can comprehend. My father was an atheist until he had a spiritual experience and became an episcopal minister (U.S.). Maybe that’s why I have never made that final step towards being an atheist. I sure don’t want to take a chance that I’ll become a minister. Just kidding, sort of.

    Seriously it helped me to have a father with a strong faith who wasn’t judgmental and certainly didn’t take the tenets of religion literally. I almost wish I did qualify for the atheist blogroll because so many atheists I know keep quiet because they say it’s not worth it to upset people who can’t deal with atheism. I don’t understand why some people are threatened by something as harmless as atheism.

    Take care, Carver

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, I agree with you there – why is people feeling so threatened by atheism?

      It’s an opinion/ belief just like faith in God (or other) is.

      I’m sure not feeling threatened by the faith.

    2. Melli

      LOL! I find this train of thought amusing – because God was not created AFTER man in MAN’s image… man was created by God in GOD’s image! (or at least that IS the general belief of the believers!) hehehe…

      1. Lifecruiser Post author

        That made me curious: why would God need to create an image of himself?

        1. Melli

          LOL! I don’t know! But that is what the Bible says … God created man in His own image. I guess He felt that his image was a good one! Or … maybe He had just run out of ideas after having created all the animals and the bugs and the flowers and the trees…. :-P

          There are SO many questions I want to ask God when I can sit down beside him and ask them!!! Face to face!

        2. Melli

          Another idea! He could have created us in His own image so that WE would feel more like we could relate to Him???

        3. Lifecruiser Post author

          I think it’s all this guessing that make me and other atheists and probably even agnostics even more convinced that we can’t believe. It’s too vague and not logical.

      2. Carver

        Hi Melli,

        I was being a bit flip but my point is that when man starts writing down anything, the writer’s point of view gets creeps in. I think it took a man with a pretty healthy or unhealthy ego to suggest that God created man in his image. This is just my opinion of course but no matter what the religion or the scriptures of that religion, I do think the historical times enter in, as well as man’s perspective, even if we allow for inspired man. I like it the way the book of Tao (or the translation I’ve read) says that the true Tao cannot be written down.

        Personally I think the old and new testaments of the Bible I grew up with would be a stronger book if it could have said something like that. Gee, I must have my only little ego issues to be tackling how the Bible should be written. Frankly I can’t believe in a literal scripture of any kind because I think if there is a higher power, once we start putting words into her or his mouth, it will be diluted. I do send out good vibes, prayers, whatever you want to call them but they are being sent out to that which is beyond my ability to name or understand. That of course is just me. I personally would like the emphasis to be on treating each other (all men and women) well and also treating the planet and other animals well.

        I’m enjoying reading this thread and the different view points. Carver

        1. Melli

          Hi Carver! I too am very much enjoying this banter of faith and religion! Probably the most invigorating BLOG discussion I’ve EVER had!

          I would agree that when man takes it upon himself to write about God or whatever higher being a body believes in, that the man’s perspective certainly DOES get added!

          The thing with the Bible is, that it was not written by one man. Nor was it written by 12. (actually only 4 of the original apostles are included in the Bible) But the bible was written over the course of I believe 1400 years? I’m NOT sure on that number… but it was an incredibly looooong time… and I believe there are 40 something separate authors involved. The thing that makes it SO unique IS the various authors and the great timespan that was covered — but that all the stories concur and add up! (overall) However … the bible DOES have discrepancies in it — and those actaully ARE attributed to the fact that certain people put in the facts that THEY thought were important and relevant at the time in which THEY lived and were writing their accounts. For instance, in the story of Jesus healing the leapors ( i think this is the right story) … one account says that he healed ONE person — another account says that he healed TWO. Well… of course, the IMPORTANT part of the story was that another miracle was revealed – and how many were actually healed wasn’t as important a detail. Perhaps one of the authors wandered off to write his notes before the 2nd healing took place! Who knows? What is important about the Bible is the overall story, the prophecies and how they were revealed, and the actual scriptures… The teachings of Jesus. Right?

        2. Carver

          Hi Melli,

          I agree with a lot of what you say. However, to me the Bible is one of many books where people try to document their beliefs. I believe it all loses something when written down (in the spiritual sense). I am a cultural christian in that I was brought up in a christian church, enjoyed singing in the choir, enjoy the symbols of the church of my youth (Episcopalian-Anglican). I rarely go to church but when I do it’s the old stone church with the architecture I love, and the pipe organ I love. That said, I don’t believe any one religion has an exclusive claim to the truth and the same goes for their scriptures. I’m not an atheist but I allow for the possibility they have it right. I’m comfortable not knowing. I draw comfort from prayers, chanting, beaming out good vibes, but that’s for me. If there is a higher power, I think she is so beyond human understanding that the best we can do is try to be kind to each other. I think the higher power isn’t going to be concerned with our understanding of her except in so far as it affects how we treat the earth and each other. I think good and bad is done in the name of God. I prefer to do whatever I do from a humanist perspective. That works for me. However, I don’t judge anyone else as long as they aren’t treating others poorly in the name of a deity or for any other reason.

        3. Melli

          So Carver… where do you stand on eternity? Do you believe, like LC, that dead is dead, and there is no more? And are you okay with that?

        4. Carver

          Hi Melli,

          I just saw this question or I would have answered before. My feelings on eternity are that I don’t know. I know that my parents are still a big part of my life in spite of death. I hope when I’m gone that my daughter can still make use of me in some way. I like the way nothing in nature is ever truly gone. At least I like that with the good aspects. Symbolically I’d like my ashes scattered in my compost heap or in a forest although I think there are some issues with that. I’m not sure my ashes would do the plants any good so to speak. My spiritual sense is that if there is life after death that it’s so far beyond human understanding that I can leave it to the great unknown. Take care, carver

  4. raja

    Hello Captain……Its quite interesting to spend time here… A mixed bag in fact….. I am also Skeptic and your analysis about sweden is a bit vague but your points about humanity and affection are good…

    Thank you,
    raja

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Thanks Raja and welcome here, since it’s your first comment here :-)

      So, in what way more exactly do you mean that my analysis of Sweden is vague?

      It would be interesting to know, since I don’t see it that way myself – I’ve even served you with number/figures about the faith in Sweden.

      I’m born in Sweden and have lived here all my life and this is how it is in my Sweden, believe me, it’s not an analysis. It’s also self experienced.

      Maybe I get you wrong here, so it might be best if you explained a bit further what you mean :-)

      1. raja

        No captain, i think you took it seriously.. vague in the sense, your stats about the religious, non relious, made me to feel like an analysis.. A religious analysis

        You know better about the religious matters there, than me, since you live there…

        And captain I want to emphasis that, im attracted by your final touch regarding humanity and stuff….

        One more request captain :
        Can i join YOUR CREW…..?
        Is it possible to be with you……?

        Please consider this request captain….

        1. Lifecruiser Post author

          Vague in the sense? Hm. Had no idea it could be interpreted that way :-)

          Of course you can join us!

          It’s all about having FUN together (no pressure), sharing our surroundings, home or on trips.

          First step is just to joyn us as an A-Swab Team member, at this stage you don’t have to write any Lifecruiser cyber cruise posts, just to be with us enjoying the A-Team Cruisers posts (follow the links there) and comment and have fun with us. To show you’re a member you have to link to us. That’s the only demands. It’s that simple.

          Second step after a while when you get the “hang of it” (and showed us that you is a regular visitor) is to become an A-Team Cruiser – if you want to write cyber cruise posts about some destination/s – but it’s only if you want to.

          You can read more here about the Lifecruiser cyber cruise grades AND pick up the required linking code:
          Lifecruiser Cruiser Grades

          The blogroll code:
          Lifecruiser Blogroll Code

          Anyhow, we’d LOVE to have you with us, so you’re warmth welcome :-)

          Just tell me you’ve linked to us and I’ll put you in the blogroll!

  5. Melli

    Well… you know I am a firm believer in God, and in Jesus Christ as my savior. And I was raised that way! However… I LIVE with 3 athiests and 2 agnostics! And if I’m UNable to change their way of thinking, I’m certainly UNable to change YOURS! LOL! On top of that, I don’t believe that I even HAVE that power… I only believe that God can make that happen! We don’t choose Him! He chooses us! We can only INVITE him to choose us! What does surprise me though, and I won’t say it about ALL athiests, any more than I would make a broad generalization about anyone else – but I do notice, that of the athiests I know, personally, in my own life – they seem “afraid” to make that invitation. Afraid of what might happen. But I wonder… if they believe there is NO higher power… then why would they be afraid to INVITE it, and try it out?

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, I know Melli and therefor I really appreciate that you make this comment here :-)

      I don’t recognize that fear to invite God as you mention here. What do you think that atheists shall do to invite him then? Tell me, because I really don’t understand how.

      I can only speak for myself. I’ve never had anything against God – I just didn’t care, since in my world he doesn’t exists, my life went on without the faith anyway. I’ve just never been able to believe in him, it feels so abstract and un-real to me. And that started relatively early in my life.

      My parents did nothing to convince me at any direction, they’ve raised me and my siblings to seek up our own opinion and to make our own decisions without their influence. I do think that my parents have had some sorts of faith, not active but never the less a faith.

      We did learn religion in school, but that was the most boring subject of all subjects in school. Maybe they started my none existing interest for religions, who knows?

  6. Melli

    Oh! Another thing! (well… you did bring this topic UP and I do NEED some help with it! LOL!) I NEED to talk to someone in a “civil” manor about these things – because, of course, any conversation at home, I get teamed up on and all doors get closed in my face!!! YOU are a very good sounding board! Soooo… this is my other concern.

    When I discuss Christianity with OTHER faiths — Buddhists, Muslims, Jews … you name it … when I speak to them about the differences in our faiths, I don’t tell them that Buddha (for instance) does not exist. I don’t take that away from them. In fact I KNOW that Buddha existed! It IS fact! NOR do they take Jesus away from me. They all agree He lived, He was a great prophet – they simply don’t believe that He is the SAVIOR. But they don’t snatch Him away from us. And in the case of Allah/God/Whatever, I think we can all pretty much agree that there is only ONE God, and it’s just perhaps a difference in the NAME that we give to Him. (well… I suppose there are still some cultures who do believe strongly in more than one god – but I have not had opportunity to actually meet them or discuss this with them) But the thing is, is that when talking with atheists – it becomes a very difficult discussion because pretty much every avenue leads back to the athiest telling me that GOD does not exist. (or that their lack of belief that He exists insinuates that I might be slightly off my rocker FOR believing He exists… you get me?) I think this is what makes it so hard to converse between believers and NONbelievers… because as a believer, I don’t take anything AWAY from you, as a nonbeliever… but by the very act of stating your nonbelief, you jeapordize the very heart of my belief. Do I make sense? I hope so! And I HOPE I’m not being insulting in any way about it….

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      No insults here Melli – were discussing in friendly terms as I said in the post. If one can’t discuss things friendly I don’t think one shall discuss at all because then it will be a bad discussion anyway :-)

      Well, you actually saying the same as I just wanted to write – it is very tough for atheists and – let’s call it believers – to discuss, since it’s really so diverse opinions that shall meet up. Both “camps” are sooo firm in their opinions that it’s no idea to try to convince the other part. It’s simply not done, but I still find it useful and interesting, even educating to discuss about it!

  7. Comedy Plus

    I believe in God, but you have the right not to believe. It took a lot of guts to write this post and I applaud you for that. Have a great day. :)

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, I know that it’s to put myself out here, but I’m an very open and honest person, so I don’t like to hide my opinion :-)

  8. Melli

    Ooooo! This is FUN! I LOVE being able to discuss it on friendly terms!!!

    But you know… I don’t think you ARE an “athiest”… I think maybe “agnostic”… only because of what you said in response to my first comment — that you have nothing “against god” – that actually does insinuate a vague belief that there IS existence. True athiests state emphatically that there is NO GOD. An agnostic simply does not believe that the world is ruled by God as their higher power – though they may believe in something else like Mother Earth or Karma or simply luck! Athiests also do not believe in those “other” things — they believe there is NO higher power in the universe at all. The athiest would not say “I don’t have anything against Him” – because they simply don’t believe there is a HIM to have something against! Do I make sense?

    As for inviting Him to choose you — that part is very easy! It’s simply having the desire to “try Him on” – of course, it must be a true desire – and then it’s as simple as making the request. Something like:

    God, I really don’t believe in you – I’ve never had any exposure and was never taught about you – BUTT – I would like to find out what you’re all about. I invite your spirit into my heart to guide me and lead me to your way. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen!

    Simple little prayer! (oh… but PRAYER is scary!) LOL!

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Sorry Melli, but I really am an atheist – I was just trying to be a bit polite there…. *giggles*

      I do claim that there is no God. Any God at all. Have no doubt about that :-)

      And about the invite – it would be very difficult to me to make a true desire – since I’m 100% convinced there is no god/s. How could I do that? If I were an agnostic yes, but I’m not.

      I don’t believe in God in the same way as I don’t believe that Elvis still is alive. It’s just not logical or make any sense to me.

      Maybe a bit funny comparison, but just to make my point :-)

      1. Melli

        Do you know I JUST discovered I can reply to your reply??? Wow!

        LC… my example of HOW to invite was just written for your circumstance because YOU were the one to ask how. Had it been someone else I would have used their circumstances! :) I don’t mean to make you (or anyone) feel uncomfortable. And I appreciate politeness — but due to it, I may have misinterpreted the way the question was meant to be asked. In the simplicity of my answering, I was just showing that one does not need to believe at all in order to make the invitation. One only needs to want to FIND OUT about it! Because one honestly can not trust what other’s SAY is happening… they must actually FEEL the happening for themselves. So, if non-believers NEVER ask (invite) the spirit to enter, then no one would ever be converted, and we know that people do convert — just as we know that people do “lose” the faith too. (but that is a whole ‘nuther can o’ worms!!!)

        1. Lifecruiser Post author

          I’m laughing over here now, because this is getting really complicated to write down in an understandable format…. *giggles*

          But, I’ll give it a try: how on earth could I want to find out about something that I actually don’t believe exists. Somehow it sounds very strange in my ears :-)

          That would be like examinating if Elvis still is alive even though people officially has declared him as deceased and there is evidence of his dead body.

          For me it isn’t any doubts. There is nothing to examine. The logic is so clear. It’s very difficult to ask someone that isn’t there?

          See how we are in a dead end here? *giggles*

        2. Melli

          This is VERY true LC… very true. And this is why it is called “faith”… because there is no PROOF of it… “faith” IS believing – even though there is no proof.

          For ME, personally, I have always believed. But even though I believed, God has chosen on a few occasions to answers prayers of mine in such a way that it has left me no doubt. He really has proven Himself to me. BUT… despite that, I still wandered away from him for 25 years! IMAGINE THAT! Was I CRAZY??? I think I must have been! LOL! But, the thing is, is that even when I wandered away, I retained my faith. I just wasn’t “using” Him like He would like me to. I had put Him up on a shelf and wasn’t asking for His help at all! I was assuming I could handle the whole world all on my own! I feel much better now with Him back at the helm! LOL!

          But LC… I don’t want you to try it for ME! I only encourage you to try it if you are truly curious and WANT to know God for yourself! Because believe me… if you TRY it – He’s going to get your attention! He may not make you a believer… but He WILL get your attention! It will be up to YOU what to do from there. To keep exploring or not.
          But IF you do try… and you want to talk more, please do feel free to email me!

        3. Lifecruiser Post author

          Well, I really don’t see WHY I should try to explore something I don’t believe in – or even deny exists – and I’m truly very, very happy with my life as it is, so why should I?

          I do appreciate your good intention though, as I understand that you really believe in this and want everybody else to find the joy in God as you have :-)

  9. Caledonia

    Well, I’m definitely an atheist because I don’t believe in God at all and was not brought up in the church. I would go so far as to say I have some pagan leanings but not enough to even get involved in that.

    I have absolutely nothing against any religion and am in fact very interested in other cultures and beliefs.

    I live in a country where sectarianism is still alive and it makes me incredibly sad to see it. Live and let live is my motto.

    Way back in the day, I would’ve been burned as witch I think!

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Maybe it’s some of the Swedish vikings that have been over and influenced you? *giggles*

  10. mar

    You have a discussion theme here, Captain! love the interaction, wish it could be more “real time”… because I know I would be talking to Melli for hours ! I don’t think prayer is scary, Melli, it’s only a matter of finding a receptive end…whatever its/his/her form is…

  11. Melli

    LOL! No, Mar… I don’t believe prayer is scary either! I LOVE prayer! But you would have to be living with MY FAMILY! Trust me… they ALL think prayer is SCARY! Don’t even mention the word! :) I have to LAUGH about it – if I don’t I’ll cry for sure!!!

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Are you sure that they really think it’s scary? Maybe they just feel awkvard doing it since they don’t believe? I know I would :-)

      1. Melli

        Oh I am POSITIVE they think it’s scary! They thinkI am scary since I went back to church! LOL! They are scared that if they invite God into their lives He will make them behave in way in which they don’t WANT to behave! But that isn’t how God works. God is in the “forgiveness” business, and so we are pretty much free to behave however we please, knowing that HE will forgive us. But sometimes, what happens, is once we get to know Him a bit better, we don’t WANT to behave in those ways anymore. (certainly not always though….)

        1. Lifecruiser Post author

          So how did you do when you invited God and what happened? Did you see him? Or what?

          Are you sure you don’t imagined it all?

          How do you know it’s for real?

        2. Melli

          Ohhhhhh boy. Okay… this is where things get a little LOT complicated. First… I never had to invite Him – because I was baptized as an infant an was raised to believe. The faith was instilled in me very young – from infancy! So I actually MISSED out on that part! (and sometimes I feel jipped by it!) LOL!

          But… for each person who does invite Him, it is different. You may not notice ANYTHING at all “right away” … but then a day or two later you will run into an acquaintance who will make SOME comment that is SO amazing you know IMMEDIATELY that God has spoken to you through that person! Or… I heard one time of a person who invited God in to their heart… and at the VERY moment she did it, in another room she heard a thud. She walked into the other room and a Bible had fallen off the shelf. That Bible had not been taken down off the shelf for 15 years — but at just that moment it fell! Maybe the cat knocked it down? It is doubtful it just jumped off the shelf on it’s own… but God MAY have used the cat! Who knows? But God got her attention — and she understood it! He chooses something that YOU will understand. And there is no question at that moment. Sometimes it’s what I call the Jesus Hug — it’s just a warm tingly sensation that starts on the inside and works it’s way out! See? HERE is where you are thinking, “she’s nuts. Completely certifiable.” Because until it HAPPENS to you, you just can’t believe what I tell you! You can’t. No one can.

          But if you decide… please DO let me know when and what happens!

        3. Lifecruiser Post author

          But if you never invited him, how do you know for sure that this isn’t something you’ve been taught as a child? How can a child questioning something at that time without any life experience? We do trust what we’re being taught as a child without really questioning it and it’s very “hard coded” into us.

          The type of signs you’re describing here is very vague, they could be wrong interpreted by the person, since it’s very common things.

        4. Melli

          Well… like I say LC… until you have experienced it, nothing that I say will sound “believable” to you. (this is why I say, I do not have the power to “convert” you… it is simply not in my capability! Only God has that power.) I can only share with you what I have experienced. Yes… the type of signs I am telling you ARE very vague… but when God uses them, he chooses something that YOU understand. I couldn’t begin to guess what He would use to grab YOUR personal attention. It would be something that would ONLY have meaning to you!

          And the reason I do know, is because even though I never had to invite Him, He has chosen to show Himself to me through His answers to my prayers.

        5. Lifecruiser Post author

          No I guess it won’t :-)

          I think that the whole meaning of that it should be something that is grabbing my attention is too vague, leaving the opportunity for the wrong interpretive open.

          I think that it’s too easy for people to imagine things that isn’t there, but which they strongly WANT to believe.

          Somehow so many have problems in their lives which makes them wanna escape the difficult reality a bit by the faith instead of gripping their real lives and try to sort it out in a more realistic way.

          I’m not saying that it’s the same way for all persons with a faith, but I do believe that it’s rather common. Many christians that I’ve met, have had problems in their lives and were weak when they become active christians. Instead of doing something real, they’ve just claimed that it’s God’s will what happens. There is no such thing. It’s very easy to blame it all on God. We can influence our lives ourselves a great deal.

          So, another question: how do you know that the things that happened after you prayers weren’t to happen anyway? Why must it be God’s work?

        6. Melli

          GOOD question LC! I don’t know it! I have “faith”… Certainly people can come up with any number of reasons why something would have happened. And they can rationalize it ALL away to “other” things. But when I pray for a very specific thing to happen, something that I have not been able to accomplish on my own, and then it does… I believe God has answered my prayer.

          ACK! I’m going to be late for work! I’ve got to go! But I’m coming back this afternoon!!!

  12. Melli

    Oh… and Mar… please feel free to ask me ANYthing you want – anytime! I freely admit I don’t have ALL the answers — as a matter of fact, I’m still asking MOST the questions!!! But I’m always willing to discuss…

  13. RennyBA

    What a real interesting an open minded post. I admire you for your openness and honest opinion on the subject.
    You know the situation and religious regime is very much like yours in Norway and I’m glad I live in a country with an open an including mind about religion. A critical and questionable mind is good too.
    I was brought up as a ‘normal’, ‘good’ Christian, but this have changed during the years so now I’m not a member of any church as I am a humanist. I respect all believers, whatever God they believe in, and I suspect others to respect me without one.
    For me its a contradiction when all religion claims there is only ‘one God’. Which one is it then?
    I believe in a higher power or something above our understanding, but the problem starts when you put religion interpretation into it. Combine that with the urge to be in power and I feel you have at least some of the problem in the world.

    Btw: Thanks for plugging my next post about Chinese Dance and Song in Oslo. It will be up on time:-)

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      There you said something crucial here too with your “Combine that with the urge to be in power and I feel you have at least some of the problem in the world.”

      I think very many of us is reacting just on that part. Why should there be any one in particular in power? What about the common humanity instead? Why not unite as humans instead of religions?

      We need to concentrate more on the humanity part nowadays than all the other stuff. We are all humans.

      My experience is that religions are separating people more than uniting them. It’s a pity.

      1. Melli

        Oh religion certainly DOES separate people. And it IS a pity! But two points here.

        1.) Faith and “religion” are two different things. Faith is to believe in God without proof of His existence. Religion is the organized group that you choose to belong to to attend worship service and gain fellowship with people who think like you do. K?

        2.) Faith (while certainly HELPFUL to our day to day life ) is not ABOUT life, here on earth, today… it is really about what happens to us when we die. About what is going to happen to our soul. About what happens in eternity.

        1. Lifecruiser Post author

          Well, I do know the difference in faith and religion :-)

          For me, that is even more reason to not believe. There is no life after this one. When we go, we die. We have our time here on earth and that’s it.

          I find it better to really take care of today, the life we have now and spend it as much as we can with the ones we love, taking care of each other, than spend time with others in a church or with bible studies that take time away from my nearest and dearest. (Even if the family joins the church too, it’s still not quality family time in my eyes since it’s not dealing with real life).

          When I go, I want to be sure that I’ve done all I wanted to do – and could do – in my life. I’m not even interested in a funeral for myself. When I’m gone, I’m gone. I ‘d rather that my nearest remember me by a photo at home, no gravestone or nothing that needs to be kept in order.

          I think that the best way I can describe my thinking here is: I believe in human love :-)

        2. Melli

          Okay. Well… I guess if you a perfectly satisfied to have this life, here, and nothing more … then you are IN the right religion!

          I need more than what is here. I feel there is much deeper meaning to our lives than what we can possibly experience in THIS lifetime … but I do not believe in re-incarnation! So I guess I am stuck with believing that there IS a God, and that He has a greater purpose for me!

          I DO agree with your funeral arrangements though! As a matter of fact – I do NOT want to be buried — I definitely want to be cremated and sprinkled out in the world! I agree that my family and friends need nothing more than photos to remember me by! But… my belief is that my soul will go on to Heaven, where I will meet God face to face, and be reunited with loved ones that were lost to me. And that my soul will live on for eternity.

        3. Lifecruiser Post author

          Oh, how fun, we’re agreeing about that at least :-)

          Except that this is no religion! *giggles*

          Well, if we’ll call Love a religion, I guess it is :-)

          Why do you need more than this life? Why isn’t this life enough?

          I love this life and I believe that for many people it could be much better than it is, if they realized what’s really important here in life – and that is Love. If we have the love, everything else becomes good too. Have we heard that before? *giggles*

          Now I’m going to bed because it’s 5 o’clock in the morning!!!!

          We’ll continue this discussion as long as there is any one that wants to continue :-)

          So, don’t miss the opportunity to subscribe to ship ahoys (comments) via email, tick the box above the comment box when you’re commenting!

        4. Melli

          Ah! I, too, LOVE this life! I enjoy all it has to offer, and I try to make a difference where I can. But I do believe that in the overall scheme of things, that the time we spend here on earth is a mere nanosecond to what we spend in the afterlife. And I believe that our purpose here is small compared to what will be. But again… no proof! It’s just what I believe.

        5. Lifecruiser Post author

          Good :-) But I still don’t understand why you have to seek for something more than tis life.

          Is it the human factor of not being satiesfied with what we have…?

        6. Melli

          Ummm… no. I am very satisfied with what I have. I guess it is just that God has promised me more (through the Bible) and that I look forward to what He has in store for me.

  14. eastcoastlife

    My parents were Buddhists when I was young. I became a Christian when I was in my teens. I faced a lot of objections from my family then. Later my Mom became a Christian.

    My hubby is a Buddhist. We faced objection from my Mom when we wanted to get married. haha…

    I make friends from all different religions and I have no problems with them. I accept them as they are. My son has the freedom to choose to go to a temple or a church. As long as the religion teaches one to do good, I leave it to him to decide.

    I have met Christians who lie and steal and Buddhists who hurt others physically. These people believe in a religion but don’t live it.

    1. Melli

      Excellent point! It is one thing to believe in something, and another entirely to “live” it. And yes… many many people, no matter their “religion”, only follow their beliefs on Sunday! (or Saturday… or whenever they happen to attend service!)

      I do admire that you and your husband have been able to work out the differences of your religions to work for your family. I once dated a Jewish man who I loved very much – and he loved me. We wanted to get married, but for the life of us we could not work out our differences over Christmas/Hanukkah … we both already had a child and would be bringing them together. I was willing to celebrate BOTH holidays… but he was NO WAY celebrating Christmas! It was very sad… it really is the thing that tore us apart. Of course, I now know that it wasn’t meant to be!

    2. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, why do people do that? Totally rejevt another believer? Shouldn’t every believer even if it’s in different Gods, stick together?

      And when it comes to doing bad things, I guess we’re all humans, so even Christians or Buddhists can do bad things – it’s only that we think that it’s more bad if they do it than atheists since they should live up to the God.

      1. Melli

        You have hit the nail on the head with this comment LC! Humans ARE all human! We all do bad (sin) – we can’t avoid it if our life depended on it! But NON-believers DO look at believers and EXPECT us to behave PERFECTLY just because we believe! WE are under the microscope for EVERY move we make!

        But, AS Christians, we know that we should always STRIVE to behave ourselves, (we are to TRY to be like Christ – even though we know we can NEVER be that perfect!) … but when we do mess up, we are forgiven.

  15. aka R'acquel

    I like my late father-in-law’s statement:

    “Nothing between heaven or hell, could exist without the consent of man.”

    On a much lighter note…

    I remember this really funny picture which was a map of the entire world, where it listed all the different religions that were practised in each individual country. For Australia, it wrote:

    “Beer”

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Ha ha! That was a good one. The beer. *giggles*

      Could have been Sweden as well :-)

      I think I’ll convert to your religion at once!!!! *giggles*

  16. chase

    Very interesting post! It is the same here in Norway. But as far as I noticed people from rich countries arent that religion since they have a nice system they can count on whereas people from poorer countries they only have god to turn to when they have extreme problems. It is their faith that keeps them going. I grew up in a very religious environment but also I learned that religion is not important it is faith that counts. For me I believe that there is this higher power

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, of course, people that have had a tough time have easier to fall back on faith. They need something obviously. I just don’t understand why not the wonderful human love is enough?

      1. Melli

        Maybe it’s because we know that human love CAN be taken away from us. How many times do humans simply STOP loving? (just look at the divorce rate to see…) But God’s love is never ending. He loves us all – forever and ever and will never take his perfect love away!

  17. katskrackerbox

    Some very interesting information about the Swedes and their religion. I was brought up Roman Catholic and went through Communion but not with Confirmation. As I got older, since my mother was Baptist (my father was the Roman Catholic), I had a chance to investigate both religions and today I am non-denominal but I attend a First Assembly of God church. Now, I may not believe in the church or what they believe in but I go because I believe in God and what the Bible says. I believe that there has to be a higher power out there looking out for all of us, regardless of who we are, where we came from, etc. And, like you, I don’t dislike anyone just because they don’t believe in the same things that I believe in. We are all different and have our own opinions. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was the same? So BORING!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      I totally agree with you there -it would be darn so boring :-)

  18. A.

    I’m sorry that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to come back to this until now. It’s such a wonderful discussion.

    My father died a few years ago. He (and my mother) were both brought up in Ireland and it left him thinking religion leading to sectarianism was a destructive force. To please my mother though he never really made a stand over it.

    When it came to his funeral I said I really thought he should have a woodland burial. Thankfully my mother agreed. He loved wildlife and nature and it is right that he should be remembered there. In time my mother will have the same but with her religious ceremony first.

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, it’s very wise to think about what’s suitable for the one that has passed away and not only for yourself :-)

  19. Ev Nucci

    Ah Captain…fascinating post indeed. Most interesting was reading about Sweden and how they think about God.

    Of course you know how I think…everyone’s opinion is just that…their opinion and is therefore correct.

    I also believe that whatever anyone believe’s in be it buddhism, hinduism, lutheranism, muslim, atheist…is fine by me. It is their sacred right to whatever philosphy they live by.

    You touched on one word that I wish all people irrelvant of their religious beliefs would stay true to…and that is humanity.

    Maybe if everyone thought a little bit more about their neighbor we would have less problems in the world. So…atheist march on!

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, and I really can’t understand why we humans reject the humanity so many times and all around the world too.

  20. claudie

    Thanks to invit me in a so interesting discussion!
    I was so busy this week! I enjoy so much to come back and blogging!
    I received a roman catholic education but my parents didn’t practic. So I don’t practic and really I didn’t believe in god understanding it was impossible for me to be conform with the ideas of the catholic church. And first I couldn’t live with the idea anything I did I was a sinner. In prayers you always begin by: ” Pardon, my god, because I sined”. The culpability is everywhere and it could become an obsession.
    So I forgot the church. When my grand mother and after my parents ded, I came back at church and for them , I wrote something about their life and our relations during it. It was really an important moment. the cure red it and at the end I explained that we didn’t participe to our church but he had the delicatess and the niceness to receive us here and to help us in this sad moment.
    He was, and we were very affected… Sometimes, you need to be helped, you can’t support the separation and this place and this man were helping us to support the unsupportable.

    I like to inform and read about church, about its starts to our days. I think religion historia is very interesting. It seems during a so long time humen ned it.

    A question, do we need it still, when you can realize that since religions exist it has been created so many treasons… catholics against lutherians, catholics against catharres, against all what was not conform to the official religion.

    With the name of god so many treasons… You could say but it was another time… Today fanatism comes back and we are in 2007.
    If some people can think now that scientifists are in a wrong way and that the world was really created in 7 days…

    One of the most important and good law in France was this of the separation between the church and the politic power, I think.

    We are free to believe or not.

    But I think sometimes you think you are strong and don’t need religion. Good. But when you loose a person you love…or another situation…your reaction can be all other and I reconigze that church was helping me to do the mourning of my parents.

    I accept I must accept that things can’t be white or black. Because all what is human is complex and mysterious. We always want to know but sure the answer isn’t for tomorrow!!!

    1. Lifecruiser Post author

      Yes, but you see, I’m a bit different there (maybe weird *giggles*) because I really don’t understand why the church must hand that help, why it won’t do with other humans love :-)

      For me it would be very strange with strangers like the church to help me. OK, if you don’t know any other human maybe, but for me it’s more natural with family or friends help.

      As I said before: I’ve seen very close persons to me die and pets too. I mourn and need love, but I would personally never have any need of the church.

  21. claudie

    I understand you.
    I suppose church or temple are special places, representing a bridge between the reality and the spiritual world. Your feelings at these special sad moments and perceptions aren’t the same. And it’s a sort communion between people and the person who ded and who is in your heart. Nothing rational at this moment … When the feelings take away the reason.

    Thanks for this good post! Do you have Café philo in Sweden?
    Philosophical subjects sometimes in the Lifecyber Cruise! Yes!

  22. Kasia

    This is a fantastic post! I learned a lot from it.
    I do believe in God but this is not the God of the priests, religoius institutions, hypocryce. I believe in the big Unknown Power, not necessarily the Creator.

  23. Sara

    You mentioned a study of the uppsala uni.

    “Swedes are characterized by a general confidence in values of liberty and a positive view of frankness, tolerance, trust, and respect for other people, according to a study carried out by Uppsala University.”

    Im wondering if you could give me the name of that study. Im doing a project on relegius manefestations in the swedish sociaty and id love to read it.

    Besides that, i wonder what everyone thinks about that?
    As far as christianity not being the only swedish relegion. I focus on the fact that your avarage swede while not beleiving in a God seems to beleive in nature. Id love commontes and an answer about the study. thanks

  24. Lifecruiser Post author

    Sorry for the late answer Sara – and unfortunately not a good answer either. Since the post you commented on is so old I don’t have the references left any more, sorry.

    Good luck with your project :-)

  25. LindaN

    and now you know another person refusing to be confirmed. I refused because i found it unetical and false to do it just to get presents.

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