Essay: Atheism, food science and bland food

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Portrait of the Frenchman Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach (1723 - 1789). He was an early advocate of atheism in Europe.

Despite France developing some of the finest cuisine over hundreds of years of theistic culture, you will see below that French atheists did transfer this knowledge to their fellow atheists in other countries.

Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is the denial of the existence of God.[1] Paul Edwards, who was a prominent atheist and editor of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, defined an atheist as "a person who maintains that there is no God." [2]

The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as "the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public".[3]

Question: Within the field of food science, how much experimentation is occurring within atheistic countries in order to improve the quality of their food in terms of making it less bland?

Atheistic cultures with bland food

Soviet Union and bland food

Claude Lewis wrote in The Philadelphia Inquirer about the food is the former Soviet Union which had militant state atheism:

Many people in the Soviet Union have grown tired of institutionalized food in state-run cafeterias found at state-run cafeterias such as Stolovaya No. 22 and Stolovaya No. 23 where the menus seldom change and often lack variety. Most food in the Soviet Union is unimaginative, tasteless and bland.[4]

Atheistic Nordic countries and bland food

Nordic countries have high atheist/agnostic populations within them (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden).

Sweden is one of the most atheistic countries in the world and in secular Europe. The website reported that in 2005 46 - 85% of Swedes were agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[5] Sweden also has the 3rd highest rate of belief in evolution as far as Western World nations.[6]

Denmark has the highest rate of belief in evolution in the Western World.[7] In addition, in 2005 Denmark was ranked the third most atheistic country in the world and the website reported that in 2005 43 - 80% of Danes are agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[8]

Finland was ranked the 7th most atheistic country in the world in 2005.[9] Finland has the 17th highest rate of belief in evolution in the Western World.[10]

Iceland is one of the most irreligious countries in the world according to Gallup International.[11] A Gallup International poll conducted in 2012 reported that 57% of Icelanders considered themselves "a religious person", 31% considered themselves "a non religious person", while 10% defined themselves as "a convinced atheist", which places Iceland in the top 10 atheist populations in the world.[12]

Nordic food is often depicted as being bland.[13]

Godless Britain and bland food

The British new atheists Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. The late Christopher Hitchens was known for his heavy drinking.[14] Please notice the utter lack of plates filled with tasty food on the table. See also: Godless Britain and alcoholism

A Eurobarometer poll in 2010 reported that 37% of UK citizens "believed there is a God", 33% believe there is "some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% answered "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".[15] See also: British atheism

International food authority Andrew Zimmern said of Britain's food: “Twenty years ago the food of the British Isles was universally considered to be among the world’s worst—boring, bland and boiled.”[16]

Britain, religious immigration and flavorful food

Due to religious immigrants, many of whom are evangelical Christians, church attendance in Greater London grew by 16% between 2005 and 2012.[17] In 2013, it was reported that 52% of people who attended church in London attended evangelical churches.[18]

On December 14th, 2009, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported:

According to the Mail Evangelical Christianity is on the rise.

Some 4.5million of the UK's foreign-born population claim to have a religious affiliation. Of these, around a quarter are Muslim while more than half are Christian – with Polish Catholics and African Pentecostals among the fastest-growing groups.

While traditional churchgoing is on the decline in the UK over the past decade, the latest immigrants mean Christianity is becoming more charismatic and fundamentalist.

'Perhaps the most significant change has been the growth of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity within migrant populations, particularly those from Africa and Latin America,' the report found.

'In Lewisham, there are 65 Pentecostal churches serving the Nigerian community, and others serving the Congolese, Ghanaian and Ivorian communities.'

Professor Mike Kenny of IPPR said: 'The research shows that recent waves of inward migration have given a boost to some of the UK's established faith communities at a time when Britain's society and culture are generally more secular, and smaller numbers of the indigenous population are regularly attending churches.

'Recent migration trends are altering the faith map of the UK. Their biggest impact is being felt in some of our largest cities: London above all, where a rich mosaic of different faith communities has come into being.'

Evangelical Christianity might be heavily African-influenced but it’s also spreading among the natives as well.[19]

See also:

Thank God desecularization is starting to occur in the UK via religious immigrants. God willing, by the end of the 21st century, bland, British gruel will be replaced with tasty dishes by Evangelical Christian immigrants via their flavorful, family recipes and them filling the ranks of the British food science community (see: Christianity and science).

Godless Germany and bland food

Germany is one of the most atheistic countries in the world and the website reports that 41-49% of Germans are agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[20]

Parlour Magazine reported about German food:

From a young age the German palate is adapted to enjoy the simple flavors of salt, wurst (sausage) and breadcrumbs, shunning anything too sweet, too spicy or too complex.

...I do occasionally enjoy a bit of spice and this is the dilemma. I grew up in a West Indian household led by my grandfather who was a chef, to say I was spoiled in terms of flavorful food would be an understatement. The pepper, the curry, the jerk – all flavors that fueled my youth and make me feel at home. How I survive in Germany, the land of bland, is a mystery to most who know me.[21]

Atheism is bland and boring

See also: Atheism and inspiration

Atheist Francois Tremblay wrote: "One last problem that undermines any propagation of atheism is inspiration. Let's be honest here, "there is no god!" is not a very motivating call for most people."[22]

The ex-atheist Alister McGrath has repeatedly pointed out the uninspiring nature of atheism.[23][24] According to McGrath, atheism is "stale", "dull" and difficult to believe.[25]

John Updike wrote:

Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been its drastic un-interestingness as an intellectual position. Where was the ingenuity, the ambiguity, the humanity...of saying that the universe just happened to happen and that when we're dead we're dead?".[26]

The British columnist Giles Coren wrote in The Times:

But it’s not the nihilism, the soullessness, the lack of poetry, the moral and physical ugliness, the shallow iconoclasm or the vainglory of atheists that bother me most. It’s the boringness.

Is there anything more boring in the world than an atheist?[27]

Atheist Jerry Coyne said about atheist meetings: "But to me the speakers and talks have often seemed repetitive: the same crew of jet-set skeptics giving the same talks."[28] Coyne also said about the atheist meetings which he attended that quite a few of the talks were lame.[29]

Andrew Brown wrote in The Guardian in an article entitled You can't dance to atheism:

...a religion is a philosophy that makes you dance. It pleased me because the book itself can be read as a history of how philosophy grew from dance...

There aren't any overwhelming and inspiring collective atheist rituals...

If I'm right, then liberal, individualistic atheism is impossible as an organising principle of society because any doctrine that actually works to hold society together is indistinguishable from a religion. It needs its rituals.[30]

China has the world's largest atheist population.[31][32] National Public Radio's article Chinese Turn To Religion To Fill A Spiritual Vacuum declares:

One young evangelical Christian missionary travels from rural village to village in the Protestant heartland in eastern China to proselytize. She attributed her own conversion to the overwhelming pressures of China's education system.

"In high school, I felt very depressed," said the bright-eyed young woman, who gave her name as Nicole. "I felt people had no direction, and I felt life was dry and boring. I felt the pressure of school was very high. God helped me and liberated me." [33]

Atheist Jerry Coyne said about the atheist meetings which he attended:

But to me the speakers and talks have often seemed repetitive: the same crew of jet-set skeptics giving the same talks.

...a few things bothered me, most notably the air of self-congratulation (which I excused on the grounds of enthusiastic people finding like-minded folks for the first time), the “fanboyness” directed at some of the famous atheists (they hardly let poor Richard alone, and I’m not sure he liked that!), and the lameness of quite a few of the talks. Again, how much new can you say about atheism?[34]


  1. Multiple references:
  2. Putting the Atheist on the Defensive by Kenneth R. Samples, Christian Research Institute Journal, Fall 1991, and Winter 1992, page 7.
  3. Heldman, Dennis R. "IFT and the Food Science Profession." Food Technology. October 2006. p. 11.
  4. Making A Beef About Soviet Food
  5. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  6. Photo: Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Countries, Study Finds
  7. Photo: Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Countries, Study Finds
  8. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  9. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  10. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  11. "Iceland Ranks High on World Atheist List". Iceland Review. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
  14. Christopher Hitchens: Despite Cancer, I'd Drink & Smoke Again
  15. Special Eurobarometer, biotechnology, p. 204". Fieldwork: Jan-Feb 2010.
  16. Five myths about British food
  17. London Churchgoing and Other News
  18. London Churchgoing and Other News
  19. I'm not surprised Evangelical Christianity is on the rise by Ed West, The Telegraph, December 14th, 2009
  20. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics(Zuckerman, 2005)
  21. Black in Berlin: Surviving Germany’s Food Culture, Parlour Magazine
  22. Herding Cats: Why Atheism Will Lose by Francois Tremblay
  23. Clear Voices 2014 - Alister McGrath - C. S. Lewis’s Vision of the Christianity
  24. In the Aftermath: Provocations and Laments By David Bentley Hart, page 136
  25. Updike, John (1989). Self-Consciousness: Memoirs (New York, NY: Knopf), ch. 4.
  26. I don’t believe it – they’re doing atheism at GCSE by Niles Coren
  27. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
  28. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
  29. You can't dance to atheism by Andrew Brown
  30. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
  31. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, Washington Post By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey May 23, 2013
  32. Chinese Turn To Religion To Fill A Spiritual Vacuum, National Public Radio, July 18, 2010
  33. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne