Those of us who are convinced, on good grounds, that there is no basis for belief in a god of any sort that would be religiously meaningful, have no intention of building atheist temples and listening to atheist sermons, even if, it seems, there are some atheists, like Alain de Botton, who think this is a good idea, and some theists, like George Pitcher, that particularly rebarbative Anglican priest, who begins his piece of Daily Mail pap with words of terrible banality:
There’s something divine in the air. Agnostics and atheists are beginning to nod respectfully in the direction of the Almighty, while still, of course, maintaining that He’s not there.
Synopsis of what Frank Furedi first said at Spiked on 1st Feb, 2012
How atheism became a religion in all but name
It was only a matter of time before someone proposed an ‘atheist temple’, given the religious-like zealotry and dogma of the New Atheists.
…[I[t was inevitable that sooner or later the New Atheist crusade would mutate into a quasi-religion. Alain de Botton’s recently published Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion is an attempt to absorb into atheism the current therapeutic and spiritual fads that influence Western elite culture. De Botton has proposed building temples for atheists through the UK. ‘It’s time atheists had their own versions of the great churches and cathedrals’, he says. Unlike the New Atheists, De Botton does not adopt an aggressive approach towards religion, which means his attitude does at least contrast to that of Dawkins or Harris.
Not surprisingly, many New Atheists have strongly criticised the idea of an atheist temple. The explicit formulation of ‘religion for atheists’ is abhorrent to those who have made a religion out of their disbelief. But for all that, in all but name the New Atheism has transformed itself not only into a secular religion but into an intensely intolerant and dogmatic secular religion.
Read the rest here.
I sent out a tweet saying that I thought the idea of a temple of atheism was a very silly idea. Alain then emailed me to say that he had been misreported in the press. I suggested that he wrote something to set the record straight, and he kindly sent me the following piece….
.Here he does a bit to set the record straight.
Delia Lloyd: Do atheists need ‘a cathedral of their own’? http://wapo.st/weIgdc
An atheist temple? — Crooked Timber There are 800 comments well worth reading.
- 0:32: Implicit snark directed toward Richard Dawkins
- 4:00: Begins tirade about how education, in contrast to religion, fails to provide guidance for how to live (e.g. how can we be moral?). Here de Botton neglects the fact that in countries where religion has taken a nosedive, morality remains high—indeed, often higher than in religious countries.
- 7:00: Says that we need to “structure time” through calendars, so we can think about certain things at certain times.
- 7:50: We need rituals.
- 8:30: We need to learn the art of oratory, which supposedly is so important in religion.
- 9:40: We need to adopt ritual baths from the Jews: a fusion of brain and body.
- 10:40: We need to learn how to use and interpret art as propaganda: art should be didactic, and explicitly so.
- 12:30: We need to learn how to foster sociality by forming institutions. The Catholic Church is his example; all we need is a secular institution like the Vatican: multinational, branded, and with a clear identity.