Atheist Alain de Botton Insists Society Needs Guidance From Religion [Excerpts]
Famed atheist Alain de Botton, also a best-selling Swiss author and philosopher known for challenging Richard Dawkins and what he calls his "destructive" atheistic theology, has in a recent interview highlighted many ways in which religion is useful even for secularists.
De Botton and Dawkins most recently clashed over plans to build a 151-foot atheist temple in London. De Botton is helping fund the project, which will he says will symbolize more than 300 million years of life on Earth and be a place for "love, friendship, calm and perspective."
Dawkins, on the other hand, the author of The God Delusion, described plans for the temple as being "misplaced for non-believers to build quasi-religious buildings, because atheists did not need temples to probe the meaning of life."
"I think there are better things to spend this kind of money on. If you are going to spend money on atheism you could improve secular education and build non-religious schools which teach rational, skeptical critical thinking," Dawkins explained.
De Botton, however, argues in his new book Religion for Atheists that places of contemplation and community, such as temples, are one of the many positive aspects about religion that secular people need to adapt in their daily lives. In an interview with the Australian broadcaster ABC, the philosopher insisted that religious practice and secular ethics do not need to be so separate, and atheism can learn a lot from religion.
"This is, you know... I think religions are far too useful, complex, intelligent to be abandoned simply to those who happen to believe in them. They're for all of us, especially nonbelievers," he insisted.