Smile!Is it possible that the least religious countries in the world, are the happiest? Is there some relationship between irreligion and well-being? That’s the possible conclusion of a study I read about recently on the Religion News Blog (WebCite cached article):

Yahoo travel produced a piece on the world’s happiest countries [cached] citing data from a Gallup poll that looked at responses from 155 countries between 2005 and 2009. …

The nations taking the top spots include: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. This might not come as a surprise to many who have been to these nations. What is surprising, however, is that three of these five nations are among the top 10 least religious nations [cached] in the world (also from Gallup).

Indeed, Sweden, Denmark and Norway came in at second, third, and fourth, respectively. Only Estonia was less religious than these nations.

I’m never fond of making too much out of pollster’s measurements of happiness, which is extremely subjective, or of degrees of religiosity. Nor am I a fan of confusing correlation with causation. So I’m not saying this conclusion can be assumed absolutely true. I simply find it thought-provoking — especially in light of the fact that theists often insist that maximal happiness and well-being require belief in a deity, and that atheists/agnostics/skeptics are a collection of miserable wretches.

Hat tip: Utne Reader.

Photo credit: Silvain de Munck.

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