The battle being fought between atheists and believers has raged for centuries. In one camp stand those quoting holy writ and in the other stand those quoting Richard Dawkins.
With his new book, Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton steps into the firing line, deciding bravely to walk a path up through the middle of ‘no man’s land’.
This is a book which will certainly get people talking. And arguing. And I am sure the warring parties will leave off shooting at each other for a time to take aim at the lonely figure standing between them. But I do not fear for Alain de Botton. He is a very clear thinker. Easily a match for most hotheads.
Here’s a little bit about it and a short extract…
Religion for Atheists: A non-believer’s guide to the uses of religion
What if religions are neither all true nor all nonsense?
The boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers is finally moved on by Alain de Botton’s inspiring new book, which boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are of course entirely false – and yet that religions still have some very important things to teach the secular world.
Religion for Atheists suggests that rather than mocking religions, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from them – because they’re 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 should look to religions for insights into, among other concerns, how to:
- build a sense of community
- make our relationships last
- overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy
- escape the twenty-four hour media
- go travelling
- get more out of art, architecture and music
- and create new businesses designed to address our emotional needs.
For too long non-believers have faced a stark choice between either swallowing lots of peculiar doctrines or doing away with a range of consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas.
At last, in Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton, the author of the bestselling The Consolations of Philosophyand How Proust Can Change Your Life, has fashioned a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative.
The most boring and unproductive question one can ask of any religion is whether or not it is true, – in terms of being handed down from heaven to the sound of trumpets and supernaturally governed by prophets and celestial beings.
To save time, and at the risk of losing readers painfully early on in this project, let us bluntly state that of course no religions are true in any god-given sense. This is a book for people who are unable to believe in miracles, spirits or tales of burning shrubbery, nor have any deep interest in the exploits of unusual men and women like the thirteenth-century saint Agnes of Montepulciano, who was said to be able to levitate two feet off the ground while praying and to bring children back from the dead – and who, at the end of her life (supposedly) ascended to heaven from southern Tuscany on the back of an angel.Click here to read more…