Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
What if religions are neither all true nor all nonsense? Alain de Botton’s bold and provocative book argues that we can benefit from the wisdom and power of religion—without having to believe in any of it.
He 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. De Botton looks to religion for insights into how to build a sense of community, make relationships last, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, inspire travel, get more out of art, and reconnect with the natural world. For too long non-believers have faced a stark choice between swallowing lots of peculiar doctrines or doing away with a range of consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas. Religion for Atheists offers a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative.
despise in ourselves are inevitable features of the species. We can therefore admit to them candidly and attempt to rectify them in the light of day. The doctrine knows that shame is not a helpful emotion for us to be weighed down with as we work towards having a little less to be ashamed about. Enlightenment thinkers believed that they were doing us a favour by declaring man to be originally and naturally good. However, being repeatedly informed of our native decency can cause us to become
constitute dramatic infringements on our much-prized ‘liberty’. However, we have already seen why this concern for liberty doesn’t necessarily honour our deepest wishes, given our compulsive and wayward natures. We can also now admit that, in any case, our public spaces are not even remotely neutral. They are – as a quick glance down any high street will reveal – covered with commercial messages. Even in societies theoretically dedicated to leaving us free to make our own choices, our minds are
Job, which concerns itself with the theme of why bad things happen to good people – a question to which, intriguingly, it refuses to offer up simple, faith-based answers. Instead it suggests that it is not for us to know why events occur in the way they do, that we should not always interpret pain as punishment and that we should recall that we live in a universe riddled with mysteries, of which the vagaries in our fortunes are certainly not the largest or even, as we will become aware if only we
improvements on the rules of the centre, they see only depressing deviations from minimal standards. They are reminded of corruption, laziness, degeneracy and the abandonment of initial ambitions. To stamp out eccentricities, the training manual for new staff of the McDonald’s Corporation runs to 300 pages, providing instructions for every imaginable action and transaction: there are rules about where the employee’s name badge must be placed, what sort of smile each customer must be treated to
one another. The liturgical complexity of a missal – the directive way in which this book of instructions for the celebration of a Mass compels the congregants to look up, stand, kneel, sing, pray, drink and eat at given points – speaks to an essential aspect of human nature which benefits from being guided in how to behave with others. To ensure that profound and dignified personal bonds can be forged, a tightly choreographed agenda of activities may be more effective than leaving a group to