What do you see here?

What do you see here? December 15, 2011

What do you see in this graph?

"So at what age does a boy child become a man that can no longer ..."

Leaving (My) Church, by Kelly Edmiston
"Also it's interesting that the verse in context says Christ is the firstfruits and reigns, ..."

Leaving (My) Church, by Kelly Edmiston
"Does it teach continued subordination of Jesus?"

Leaving (My) Church, by Kelly Edmiston
"I remember the name of the teacher I had in grade 1 thru 4 and ..."

Marks of a Good Teacher: What ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • phil_style

    The more devout countries are… more devout? 😉

    I would like to know if all the respondents considered themselves to be “religious” or to have a faith first. The question assumes the affirmative…If that’s true then this is a question about the exclusivity of faith/religious claims with respect to national geography, and not a comment on the uptake of religious belief per head of population. I suppose its a measure of “extremism” within religious communities?

  • Jennifer

    The countries on the left side of the chart, with the exception of the US, were not involved in WW2. Most of the countries on the right side of the chart were involved. I think that war had a lasting effect on faith, no matter what side you were on.

  • David Dollins

    That those to the very left are Islamic-dominated countries who take what they believe serious, albeit in error, but very committed. Those to the right reflect the backsliding or the ‘falling away from the faith’ currently ongoing in European countries who traditionally have been Christian. Sadly, I believe the U.S. is sliding to the right, not the left.

  • Nick

    Brilliant observation, Jennifer. Going off what you said, WWII was not fought on US soil, so of course the effects of the war on Americans was not as significant.

  • It is almost impossible to overlook the fact that the first three countries are not only Muslim, but largely militantly so. I realize Turkey is technically secular, but it is less secular in a practical sense. This is a brand of Islam which takes its exclusivity seriously.

  • Dustin

    Well, I think some might see that the USA’s “only way doctrine” is close to countries with poor civil rights records. They might also conclude that having a “one way” attitude leads to the kind of abuses we see in places like Indonesia. But, of course, this would summarily dismiss the possibility that what you believe that “one way” is can have a significant impact on your behavior and your view of civil rights.

    For example, compare this with the World Giving Index (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/sep/08/charitable-giving-country#zoomed-picture) Many of the countries where ppl are least likely to claim “the only way” doctrine are also among the lowest in charitable giving. Poland (81st), Spain (tie for 91st), France (tie for 91st), Japan (119), Hungary (121st), Russia (138)are all pretty abysmal when it comes to charitable giving. Italy (29th), Sweden(45th), and Belgium (50th), all have plenty of room for improvement – especially considering their relative wealth.

    Great Britain and Canada are the anomalies here as they are ranked 8th and 3rd respectively.

    The middle four countries (in terms of “only way”) are pretty middling. Argentina (76th),South Korea (81st), and Mexico (67) are all lower on the giving index. But then you have Australia sticking out at number 1.

    Now, look at those with a higher incidence of “only way” doctrines. India (134th-tie), Turkey (134th-tie), Saudi Arabia (86), Brazil(76-tie), South Africa(76-tie)and Indonesia (50), all fair pretty poorly in the charitable giving arena. Then sticking out like a sore thumb, you have the USA at 5th.

  • Dustin

    Accidentally submitted that last comment while I was still editing. I do think it’s interesting that, as you push to the extremes in both directions on the “only way” doctrine, the level of charitable giving generally tends to decline. But I don’t think there’s enough info to drawn any conclusions about that one way or the other. Especially since this “only way” index leaves out some pretty prominent countries such as China, Portugal, Austria, Norway. Finland, etc.

  • James

    I imagine we could see all kinds of things.

    Western philosophy (with the Russian exception) to the right.
    WWII in Europe to the right.
    Fundies to the left (of both Christian & Muslim varieties)
    Socialism to the right.

    And my personal favorite: cold climate to the right, warm to the left.

  • James

    (and btw, I don’t use “fundies” as a pejorative, so no offense intended there)

  • Steelwheels

    The three on the far left are predominately Islamic. A majority of the countries on the right used to be predominately Christian but I wouldn’t classify them “christian” any more. I would say they are more humanistic/secular. They seem to be regions where their epistemology has transformed from modern to post-modern with the result being a loss for any basis of truth. But this is all just an amateur observation.

  • Steve, Winnipeg, Canada


    South Africa and Brazil as ‘fundies’? Seriously? I wouldn’t have thought that.

  • Adam

    I think James makes a very important point about climate. The warmer you are, the more intolerant you are.


  • Adam

    Unfortunately I just saw Italy and Spain on the right. Those are not cold climates.

  • Fred

    Cold climates. I think you may be on to something, James. I’m from MN and I don’t believe anything anymore. 😉

  • Mark Brown

    A Rorschach test. (Although Indonesia is kinda shocking given that it is a pluralist ethnic and to some extent religious country.) But when are you going to give us your sight Prof. McKnight?

  • The more oil, the more religious. 🙂

    It was interesting to see South Africa so high on the list, I wonder if it’s characteristic of other sub Saharan nations.

  • DRT

    Adam says “I think James makes a very important point about climate. The warmer you are, the more intolerant you are.”

    What about the southern US?

  • DRT

    First, I assume that all countries have religions and people (opportunity) to have a faith that is exclusive.

    Then, there are two likely reasons for the degree of belief in exclusives, either a faith structure that makes it difficult to adopt a non-exclusivist view, or a degree of isolationism for the population with the exclusivist beliefs.

    It seems the first couple of countries have the combination of both of these factors going on significantly, they make it difficult to think otherwise and they can enforce isolation on their adherents.

    But for the rest of the list, it looks like an indication of how much of the population is isolated culturally from the rest of the world. There are different reasons for the insulation, could be uniformity in culture, could be that they are simply able to live in an echo chamber (the US).

    So I guess I am agreeing with the folks with the cold hypothesis because my theory comes down to insulation 😉

  • Dan

    More of the countries on the left side have names that end in “a”.

  • Job

    I believe the US and Mexico are the only two without universal health care, so there appears to be no tie between health care for the poor and religion.

  • Fish

    Geography is destiny!

  • zman

    Evidently the stairway to heaven starts on the right.

  • James

    Steve, I didn’t say that was my view, I said it could be read that way. There are exceptions–glaring ones–in every general “those to the right/left are…” Which was part of my point.

  • Jeremy

    I wonder how those nations would fall if you looked at poverty levels. Many of the countries to the left have very large impoverished populations while those on the left have very small ones…gets a bit murky in the middle, but hey.