Monday, April 8, 2013

Religion for Atheists

Alain de Botton

This work of genius is a powerful bridge between religious believers and the secular world. In Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton delivers a carefully written and well-structured guide to the success religions have had over the centuries connecting with people and promoting the growth of their body, mind, and soul. Touching on areas ranging from community, tenderness, pessimism, and perspective to art, architecture, and institutions, de Botton exposes a wealth of knowledge that seemingly has been overlooked by the growing secular world.

While this book is clearly directed at atheists, perhaps those who are religious have just as much to gain from this read. It may remind church goers, for example, why in fact they go to church. Regardless, if readers put their egos aside before reading this book, they will find themselves compelled by de Botton’s presentation of a happier, more positive, and much more prosperous way of life, as opposed to denigrating the religions from which the knowledge necessary to lead such a life is drawn.

For those expecting a dry read, Religion for Atheists is neither life-sucking nor yawn-inducing. Relevant and interesting, if the secular world had a Bible, this would be it.  As de Botton states,
God may be dead, but the urgent issues which impelled us to make him up still stir and demand resolutions which do not go away when we have been nudged to perceive some scientific inaccuracies in the tale of the seven loaves and fishes. The error of modern atheism has been to overlook how many aspects of the faiths remain relevant even after their central tenets have been dismissed.
For a quick look at de Botton's ideas, see his TED talk on Atheism 2.0:


- Joe Cassidy

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