Another rather lazy assumption was dynamited later in the day by David Voas, the sociologist behind the informative British Religion in Numbers. He showed us any number of graphs showing a steady falling off of religious belief in England over the past 50 or 60 years, but ended with one in the shape of a shallow X. One line, sloping down from left to right, showed the familiar decline in religious belief. The other, sloping up over the same decades, showed the corresponding rise in a faith in life after death.
So what we have now is a country where large numbers of people repudiate religion, but are anyway convinced that there is some form of life after death.
Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone.
The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.
Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia.