The Rice Makes You Think

Stan’s Café in the United Kingdom runs a project called “Of All The People In All The World.” It’s a show featuring piles of rice, each grain representing exactly one person.

Like in this picture:



That rice is grouped into the number of adherents of different faiths in Birmingham, England.

Before you click on the image and find the answers, see if you can guess which rice groups represent the following:

  • Christians
  • Jews
  • Muslims
  • Hindus
  • Sikhs
  • Buddhists
  • Agnostics
  • Atheists
  • Others

Do those results look anything like the religious makeup where you live?

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    Don’t click on the image, that won’t do anything for you. Click on the link instead.

  • http://mattstone.blogs.com Matt Stone

    No, where I live in Sydney the pile for Hindus would be much much larger, outnumbering Atheists and coming close to outnumbering Christians. Actually they would outnumber Christians if only the active Christians were counted, but its where being a post-Christian society complicates things. Many people who consider themselves Christians do so simply because they have no word for the mix n match path they actually follow.

  • Nick

    Hmm, picture seems to be blurred a bit, so it’s hard to make out most of the piles. Which pile makes up the atheists?

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    I didn’t know there were so many Sikhists. And I thought there’d be more Buddhists. I wonder how they dealt with the all the people who are adherents to multiple religions.

  • Santiago

    Hey, wait, I’m an atheist from Birmingham! And not the one in Alabama!

    Also, I’m conflicted on the number of agnostics. On the one hand, they are fellow irreligious humans, and their numbers are stunning. On the other though, the argument for agnosticism is so bloody weak, compared to the journey needed to get yourself out of religion in the first place failing to go from agnostic to atheist is like circling the globe on foot and being unable to cross the final stream because it’s too scary.

  • mikespeir

    You mean to tell me there are over two billion grains of rice in that big pile? I doubt it!

    Okay, not particularly relevant.

  • Me

    I’d like to know how many of the “christians” there are actually actively worshipping christians, or people who, like my death-metal band guitarist friend who never goes to church in his life and does several unchristian things, classes himself as “christian” whenever anyone asks.

    It’s also somewhat pleasing to find that atheism is so high (since I also live in birmingham, the UK one). Awesome.

    I would’ve thought Sikh numbers would be higher, though.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Come to think of it, these are 3-d piles of rice, so the number of grains in any pile is roughly proportional to the radius cubed.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Like Me I doubt most of those christians are actually christians; they just happen to be member of a church. Just like 7 out of 9 million Swedes are part of the Church of Sweden, even though 50-80% of the Swedish population are atheists. This is what happens when you have/had a state church.

  • stephanie

    Well, this explains that run on rice about six months ago…

  • Siamang

    Santiago said:

    Hey, wait, I’m an atheist from Birmingham! And not the one in Alabama!

    Dude, if you converted, do you get to go to that café and move your grain?

    “knock, knock, knock… hey, dude. Today I’m totally sold on Kabballah! Tomorrow I’m taking up Yoga though, so I might see you again!”

  • http://asad123.wordpress.com asad

    I’m surprised that there are more agnostics than atheists. I knew there were a lot of Muslims in Birmingham.

  • Axegrrl

    Santiago said:

    the argument for agnosticism is so bloody weak compared to the journey needed to get yourself out of religion in the first place failing to go from agnostic to atheist is like circling the globe on foot and being unable to cross the final stream because it’s too scary.

    I’ll have to chime in to disagree here :) You talk as though agnostics just don’t have the intestinal fortitude to ‘make a decision’ ~ as though atheism is ‘the’ inevitable destination point. What do you think is ‘weak’ about coming to the conclusion of ‘I don’t know’ or, more specifically, ‘we can’t know’?

    If one truly comes to that conclusion, then the ‘final stream’ you talk about doesn’t really exist.

  • Axegrrl

    (the above post wasn’t in the exact form i wanted because i posted, went back to edit, and ran out of time.argh!)

    Anyway….my main point is that if you arrive at the intellectual conclusion of ‘we can’t know’, then not ‘crossing the final stream’ has absolutely nothing to do with fear.

    That’s all :)

  • mikespeir

    Anyway….my main point is that if you arrive at the intellectual conclusion of ‘we can’t know’, then not ‘crossing the final stream’ has absolutely nothing to do with fear.

    I tend to be one of those atheists who say that if you’re agnostic–you don’t have an active faith in any gods–you’re a-theist. However, you do make a point that exposes there really is a subtle distinction. The agnostic says knowing is impossible. The atheist doesn’t necessarily agree. Knowing might indeed be possible, but he doesn’t find evidence convincing enough to give him that knowledge. (Or, likelier, the knowledge he does have militates against the notion of deity.)

  • Axegrrl

    The agnostic says knowing is impossible. The atheist doesn’t necessarily agree. Knowing might indeed be possible, but he doesn’t find evidence convincing enough to give him that knowledge.

    I’m really curious to hear any atheists who think ‘knowing might be possible’ explain how it might be possible. The idea that sometime in the future we might have the techology/knowledge/understanding to ‘know’ strikes me as being a reasonable position (given that so many things that were ‘beyond’ us no longer are)….but how might someone think it’s possible to ‘know’ now?

    To concede that right now it might be possible to ‘know’ is to concede that all the theists might be right. And if you* have to do that, are you* truly an atheist?

    (* = not you personally mikespeir, just in case that wasn’t clear:)

  • Vincent

    It’s simple. As long as you define clearly what it is to “know” something. (and of course you’re still an atheist if you don’t believe in any gods but accept the possibility one you have never been exposed to may exist – you still lack belief)
    If I concede that it’s possible there is a God, then that God would be able to convince me of his existence. I don’t know what it would take, but He would so He is welcome to convince me any minute now.

    (crickets)

  • Axegrrl

    If I concede that it’s possible there is a God, then that God would be able to convince me of his existence.

    Yes, but just because God would be able to convince you, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he/she/it WOULD convince you. If God ‘convinced’ everyone, then the whole idea of ‘faith’ wouldn’t be relevant (and religious folk claim that faith is one of the most relevant things)

    It’s simple. As long as you define clearly what it is to “know” something.

    But that’s precisely one of the problematic issues. Believers obviously have a different definition or criteria for ‘knowing’ something than non-believers people do (or their bar for evidence is lower than it is for the rest of us) ~ that’s one issue that causes some of the ‘disconnect’ between the two groups.

    I’ll ask the question more simply and directly: for those of you out there who are atheists but think it might be possible to ‘know’ that God does exist (to the same degree that we know the earth travels around the sun and isn’t flat) how or through what ‘method’ do you think it’s possible?

    For example, do atheists who believe it might be possible to ‘know’ that God does exist think that God might really be ‘talking’ to/communicating with certain people, just not them?

    What ‘method’ or way of ‘knowing’ would be accepted by an atheist if that method was only accessible to SOME people?

  • http://www.podnosh.com/blog Nick Booth

    If you tag this thericeshow this will appear at http://www.thericeshow.com where we are aggregating people’s reactions. Thanks


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X