“An atheist’s defense of religion.”
Alain de Botton has written a book called: “Religion for Atheists” and John Allemang interviews him in a Globe article in which he proffers what he feels we need to learn from religion. Once I realized this was not a nineteenth century novel, I became intrigued about what he was actually getting at.
De Bottom suggests that religion offers community, helps to hold people together, and breaks down that feeling of loneliness. Where? Churches are closing all over the country. This is not because believers have lost their faith, it’s just because lifestyles have changed. Now you see a guy with plugs in his ears as he walks along unaware of others, someone else is talking on a smart phone oblivious to his associates and we live in small units in skyscrapers—, not in your country town where everyone knows your name and what you did on Saturday night and better see you on your way to church the next day.
Today’s communities are our blogs, Face book and Twitter. Here is where we trade information, lecture,persuade, inform and gossip.
So it bothers me that De Bottom and I’m afraid some Humanists too still yearn so much for the good old days. Copycatting religious ritual flourishes in many non theist groups. What does this tell us? Do we want to slip back into a more acceptable stance?
From another point of view, he reminds us that the Catholic church no longer burns people at the stake. Good for them, let’s give them credit for that . But fails completely to point out that they still try to stop the use of contraceptives while condemning the abortions that they so induce. Sadistic Catch 22.
And they continue to look down on gays and women, particularly single women and
this shows itself in the vigilante demands among Republicans that the state must take control of the single women’s activities(particularly, of course with her sexual activities since Republicans, like Catholics, are besotted with the concept of sex.) Mind you,Catholics cannot be blamed alone for this misogynist drive in the ongoing political posturing in the States
But I think his worst claim is that we atheists show nothing but contempt for
the Architecture and music that believers claim were inspired by a deity-(which, of course means they were inspired by nothing since gods did not exist back then either). Personally I think the artists could have been inspired by a beautiful woman or a brilliant sunset. And let us not ignore the stimulus of the culture of the times on creative effort I cannot believe that lack of belief in a deity would have blocked their creative efforts.
But this bothers me most–who says we atheists do not admire impressive architecture or beautiful music? I love Amazing Grace and many other hymns. I do not believe that dragons exist either, but does that mean I cannot like “Puff, the Magic Dragon”? I love Xmas and the carols .Hot Turkey, Hot Rum, lots of presents, what’s not to like?
Another revealing item: Alain de Botton gives considerable value to what he sees as a humbling experience: when ,say ,we are overcome with awe while standing alone in a deep forest or gazing at the magnificent stars, above. While this gives we secular types a deep sense of being part of something magnificent, a sense of participation in the ongoing stream of life, they develop more of a feeling of deep humbleness (Funny, since they have a god to take the mystery out of it all, while we are left to stare in awed wonder.)
Mind you I have not read this book, but I get the impression that it is based on an atheist stereotype, one more likely to be expected from a Catholic priestthan from an atheist And that’s my two cents worth
Cheers Andy Mulcahy
” It was Nietzche who told us God was dead, but he
would be laughing in his grave if he knew
how many are still heaving over the corpse,
frantically trying to revive it.”