What if religions are neither all true nor all nonsense? The long-running and often boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers is finally moved forward by Alain de Botton’s inspiring new book, which boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are entirely false—but that it still has some very important things to teach the secular world.
Religion for Atheists suggests that rather than mocking religion, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from it—because the world’s religions are packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies. Blending deep respect with total impiety, de Botton (a non-believer himself) proposes that we look to religion for insights into how to, among other concerns, build a sense of community, make our relationships last, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, inspire travel and reconnect with the natural world.
For too long non-believers have faced a stark choice between either swallowing some peculiar doctrines or doing away with a range of consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas. At last, in Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton has fashioned a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative.
In this highly original and thought-provoking book, philosopher and atheist de Botton (How Proust Can Change Your Life) turns his critical eye to what religion does well and how nonbelievers might borrow from it to improve their own lives, institutions, and practices without believing in God. For example, de Botton praises religion for satisfying the universal needs for community, comfort, and kindness and for its recognition that all people are imperfect and in need of help and healing. Some of what he suggests seems unattainable: de Botton calls for colleges and universities to shift from preparing students for careers to training them in "the art of living," something he says religion does well. But other suggestions are more exciting for their plausibility would not a Day of Atonement, drawn from Judaism, benefit all relationships? De Botton will no doubt annoy militant atheists who believe religion not only has no use but is essentially evil, but his well-reasoned arguments should appeal to the more open-minded nonbeliever. And de Botton is a lively, engaging writer.
Absolutely life changing
The other two people that left reviews of this book obviously didn't pay attention to what the book was trying to communicate. I have seen this man give a talk at the TED talks and it was brilliant. This book has helped me to see that simply because I find no real validity in the teachings of religion I can still benefit from the centuries of tested methods they have employed to bring peace and happiness into my life. I found the book refreshing and enlightening. It is a very good idea that revolutionizes the entire landscape of the atheistic lifestyle.
A fresh take on an otherwise recalcitrant atheist posture. The author embraces religious concepts to better defend a new 'religion' - a religion of the mind. Recommended for both; the secular and religious.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to combine the very worst elements of organized religion with atheism?