Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion
The most boring and unproductive question one can ask of any religion is whether or not it is true…
I was fully prepared to hate this book. I’d never read a de Botton book before, but Mark Larson gave it a thumbs up, and not a whole lot makes me seek out a book like a good review from Mark.
The genesis of the book was de Botton’s thought, “there might be a way to engage with religion without having to subscribe to its supernatural content,” which isn’t, of course, a new thought at all — Thomas Jefferson cut the parts out of The Bible he didn’t like and kept the rest.
Early Christianity was itself highly adept at appropriating the good ideas of others, aggressively subsuming countless pagan practices which modern atheists now tend to avoid in the mistaken belief that they are indelibly Christian… The premise of this book is that it must be possible to remain a committed atheist and nevertheless find religions sporadically useful, interesting and consoling – and be curious as to the possibilities of importing certain of their ideas and practices into the secular realm.
There are tons of downright goofy ideas in the book, and there were several times where I thought, “Isn’t it just easier to, you know, actual be Catholic?” but what I like is the very simple idea that you don’t have to agree with or believe in something in order to find something valuable and worth stealing in it. Again, go read Mark’s review.
Filed under: my reading year 2012