Atheists equal believers in Norway for first time

The Local Norway
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Atheists equal believers in Norway for first time
Arctic Cathedral in Tromsö: Henrik/Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

The number of Norwegian atheists now equals those who believe in God for the first time since a key survey began, in a sign of increasing secularization in the once god-fearing nation.


In this year’s survey by Ipsos MMI, 38 percent of those asked about their faith said they were atheists, the exact same share of the sample who said that they were believers. Only 24 percent said they were uncertain. 
“It reflects the secularization that has taken place over time, and that is already apparent in lower baptism numbers,” Silje Kvamme Bjorndal, a research fellow at the Norwegian School of Theology, told the Vårt Land newspaper.
The poll, which was first carried out in 1985 has recorded a steady decline in belief over the last decade. 
Women were considerably more likely to believe in God, with 43.3 percent describing themselves as believers compared to 33.5 percent of men. 
Pål Ketil Botvar at the Institute for Church, Religion, and Worldview Research said that the survey may underestimate the level of belief in Norway. 
“There are reasons to believe that many people’s faith is not captured because of the way the question was asked in this survey,” he said. 
He estimated that a significant proportion of the 24 percent of respondents who answered ‘don’t know’, might believe in some form of ‘higher power’ or ‘force’. 
In a Eurobarometer poll carried out for the European Union in 2010, Norway had the second lowest levels of faith in the Nordic countries, with only 22 percent claiming to believe in God, compared to 18 percent in Sweden, 28 percent in Denmark, 33 percent in Finland and 31 percent in Iceland.



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