"Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." So says scripture, and 71 percent of Danes accept that as fact, according to a recent poll. When asked what happens after death, only 16 percent of respondents said that they believed that they would be reunited with any sort of god, and just 12 percent said they believed in reincarnation.

The questions concerning life and death were posed to 2,000 Danes in a survey conducted by the Palliative Knowledge Centre.

“I am surprised that so few have a religious framework in understanding what happens when we die,” Helle Timm, the head of the centre, told the Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper. “The answers suggest that many Danes apparently have a very pragmatic and literal picture of what happens.”

Timm said that accepting that the body decomposes after death did not necessarily preclude believing in an afterlife and that the survey could be used as a starting point to discuss spirituality with the respondents.

Bispebjerg Hospital’s pastor Karsten Flemming Thomsen said that Danes tend to look more toward the earth than the heavens when facing death.