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Zac Alstin

God is dead! Can I have his stuff?

Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion | By Alain de Botton | Pantheon (March 6, 2012) | Hardcover: 320 pp | ISBN: 0307379108 Celebrated philosopher and author Alain de Botton expects to upset a great number of religious people and atheists alike with his proposal that: “it must be possible to remain a committed atheist and nevertheless to find religions sporadically useful, interesting and consoling.”De Botton is in Australia to promote his new book: Religion for Atheists: A non-believers guide to the uses of religion; and if articles such as Why religion is too important to be left to the religious are anything to go by, de Botton’s thesis is guaranteed to attract attention. De Botton demonstrates an equal-parts intriguing and infuriating audacity: baldly dismissing intelligent belief in a deity, whilst laying claim to all the benefits and “consolations” religion might provide. This is his great departure from the New Atheist movement, and from those who have excoriated religious practice and religious institutions as poisonous emanations from utterly false belief systems.Instead, de Botton suggests we:recognise that we invented religions to serve two central needs which continue to this day and which secular society has not been able to solve with any particular skill: firstly, the need to live together in communities in harmony, despite our deeply-rooted selfish and violent impulses; and secondly, the need to cope with terrifying degrees of pain which arise from our vulnerability to professional failure, to troubled relationships, to the death of loved ones and to our decay and demise.Lest he be accused of going soft on believers, de Botton never fails to remind the reader – in a cool, matter-of-fact tone – that he is preaching to the secular. “God may be dead, but the urgent issues which impelled us… Read More