Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believers Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de BottonWhat if religions are neither all true or all nonsense? The boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers is finally moved on by Alains inspiring new book, which boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are of course entirely false – and yet that religions still have some very important things to teach the secular world.
Religion for Atheists suggests that rather than mocking religions, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from them – because theyre packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies. Blending deep respect with total impiety, Alain (a non-believer himself) proposes that we should look to religions for insights into, among other concerns, how to:
- build a sense of community
- make our relationships last
- overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy
- escape the twenty-four hour media
- go travelling
- get more out of art, architecture and music
- and create new businesses designed to address our emotional needs.
For too long non-believers have faced a stark choice between either swallowing lots of peculiar doctrines or doing away with a range of consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas. At last, in Religion for Atheists, Alain has fashioned a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative.
Penn Jillette: Reading the Bible (Or the Koran, Or the Torah) Will Make You an Atheist
Why Are Atheists So Obsessed With God?
Michele Bachmann raised eyebrows again last weekend when she claimed that Hurricane Irene was God's way of sending a message to American politicians to listen to the American people. Although the allegation that God would kill Americans in order to get politicians to listen to those same Americans is strange enough wouldn't he kill the politicians themselves or their first born sons, not the people whose voices he wished to be heard? Others agreed with her and one group in particular was pulling its hair out after hearing Bachmann's latest sound bite. Atheists complain that religion is irrational, has no basis in fact and shouldn't play a part in national politics. Still, it's odd that they will condemn politicians like Bachmann for bringing God into a political discussion, yet they throw their support behind leaders like President Barack Obama, a Christian who says that he is opposed to gay marriage because "God is in the mix".
By the time Seeger submitted his form, in the late nineteen-fifties, thousands of conscientious objectors in the U. Those who belonged to pacifist religious traditions, such as Mennonites and Quakers, were sent to war as noncombatants or to work as farmers or firefighters on the home front through the Civilian Public Service; eventually, so were those who could prove their own independent, religiously motivated pacifism. Those who could not were sent to prison or to labor camps. But while Selective Service laws had been revised again and again to clarify the criteria for conscientious objection, they still did not account for young men who, like Seeger, refused to say that their opposition to war came from belief in a Supreme Being. Over time, draft boards came to resemble freshman philosophy seminars in their attempts to decide who did and did not qualify for C. Different boards reached very different conclusions, various appeal boards upheld and reversed those decisions without much consistency, and, inevitably, some of those appeals ended up before federal courts. Atheists, long discriminated against by civil authorities and derided by their fellow-citizens, were suddenly eligible for some of the exemptions and protections that had previously been restricted to believers.
Many atheists think that their atheism is the product of rational thinking. Oddly perhaps, many religious people actually take a similar view of atheism. This comes out when theologians and other theists speculate that it must be rather sad to be an atheist, lacking as they think atheists do so much of the philosophical, ethical, mythical and aesthetic fulfilments that religious people have access to — stuck in a cold world of rationality only. The problem that any rational thinker needs to tackle, though, is that the science increasingly shows that atheists are no more rational than theists. For example, religious and nonreligious people alike can end up following charismatic individuals without questioning them.
Bigger Than Phil
Criticism of atheism is criticism of the concepts, validity, or impact of atheism , including associated political and social implications. Criticisms include positions based on the history of science , findings in the natural sciences , theistic apologetic arguments, arguments pertaining to ethics and morality , the effects of atheism on the individual, or the assumptions that underpin atheism. Various contemporary agnostics like Carl Sagan  and theists such as Dinesh D'Souza  have criticised atheism for being an unscientific position. Analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga , Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame , argues that a failure of theistic arguments might conceivably be good grounds for agnosticism, but not for atheism; and points to the observation of an apparently " fine-tuned Universe " as more likely to be explained by theism than atheism. Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox holds that atheism is an inferior world view to that of theism and attributes to C. Lewis the best formulation of Merton's thesis that science sits more comfortably with theistic notions on the basis that Men became scientific in Western Europe in the 16th and 17th century "[b]ecause they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.
It happened again recently at the Cambridge Union debating society when former Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams took on the best known name in contemporary atheism, Richard Dawkins. They were debating whether religion has a role in the 21st century. In the end, Williams was handed a decidedly strong victory with more than two times as many votes from the audience as the infamous atheist, Dawkins. It was a triumphant day for the faithful and a shameful one for the irreligious. This world beats to the rhythm of religion in a thousand ways, and absolutely everyone is religious -- including atheists. Religion certainly includes an idea of a God under whom man is inherently subservient, but religion also governs the belief system undergirding the way people think about, and live, their lives.