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Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion

Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion

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Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists looks at the God debate with fresh eyes All of us, whether religious, agnostic or atheist, are searching for meaning. And in this wise and life-affirming book, non-believer Alain de Botton both rejects the supernatural claims of religion and points out just how many good ideas they sometimes have about how we should live. And he suggests that non-believers can learn and steal from them. Picking and choosing from the thousands of years of advice assembled by the world's great religions to get practical insights on art, community, love, friendship, work, life and death, Alain de Botton shows us a range of fascinating ideas on a range of topics, including relationships, work, culture, love and death - and that could be of use to all of us, irrespective of whether we do or don't believe. In the Sunday Times top-ten bestseller Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton takes us one step further than Dawkins and Hitchens have ventured and into a world of ideas beyond the God debate..."A serious and optimistic set of practical ideas that could improve and alter the way we live." (Jeanette Winterson, The Times). "A beautiful, inspiring book...offering a glimpse of a more enlightened path.

" (Sunday Telegraph). "Packed with tantalizing goads to thought and playful prompts to action." (Independent). "Smart, stimulating, sensitive. A timely and perceptive appreciation of how much wisdom is embodied in religious traditions and how we godless moderns might learn from it." (Financial Times). "There isn't a page in this book that doesn't contain a striking idea or a stimulating parallel." (Mail on Sunday). "Packed with tantalizing goads to thought and playful prompts to action." (Independent).

Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1969. He is the author of Essays in Love, The Romantic Movement, Kiss and Tell, How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel, Status Anxiety, The Architecture of Happiness, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, A Week at the Airport, Religion for Atheists, How to Think More About Sex, Art as Therapy, and The News: A User's Manual. Alain is a bestselling author in 30 countries. He lives in London, where he runs The School of Life and Living Architecture. Alain de Botton's first novel in nearly two decades, The Course of Love, will be published in April 2016.

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Customer Reviews

This book represents an unusual, indeed, in my experience unique, exercise. Namely, an attempt by an atheist author not merely to understand religion and all its works but to identify elements of its legacy which are positive and worthy of emulation when shorn of their supernaturalist connotations. This is a courageous effort, given the inevitable, scornful reaction of many atheists and secularists at the mere mention of positive works, much less institutions, stemming from a range of iron-age superstitions. It must also be admitted that it is not self-evidently doomed to failure as there is, indeed, much that religious institutions potentially have to teach us. How could it be otherwise? They represent in many instances the state itself, along with the academy and the conscience, for entire continents and extended over millennia. They are the ultimate cultural survivors and have had their noses in every aspect of human being. They must have appealed to something in our nature. So the author does indeed find much to praise in the "great" religions, and some of it we should certainly take on board. The record of secularism in, for instance, architecture has not been, let us say, uniformly edifying. However, there remains something of the smell of a dead rat about the whole project. The word "soul" is too often bandied about without qualification. The claims of priests are too uncritically accepted. One receives the impression that de Botton might as well go the whole way and become a theist, having accepted so much of the religious agenda. The question of the existence and nature of gods is in any case so vague and almost trivial in comparison to the observance of norms that Catholics or Muslims, and certainly Buddhists, would be happy to overlook private reservations in faith. It can hardly make a difference. While I applaud, therefore, the conscious effort at tolerance, recognition of the good in others and the food for thought, this atheist would ask for a little more tough-mindedness and perhaps scepticism.

- 16/01/2014
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A very interesting basic concept and book. It provides an alternative view of many activities of certain religions and the positives that these activities and values can offer us in today's world. once their religious aspects have been removed. In a way it is keeping the baby after the bathwater has been thrown away. There are two thing which could have been better. Firstly, the way that religious beliefs are dismissed, in a desparaging way, gives a negative taste which might be better not present. Maybe it would have been more appropriate made and 'agree to disagree' type statement. Secondly, the focus is primarily on Catholocism and Judaism, with the ocassional reference to Buddhism, looked at from the perspective of western culture. There are many more religions in the world, no doubt with many more practices and values, and equally there are more ways of living than in the rush of modern cities. The title of the book suggests a wider scope than the book delivers. Yes, the introduction does say that it focuses on these three religions but almost in passing. While a fuller discussion would have meant a much bigger book to do the title justice, so maybe a different title may have been less misleading. However, it is still an interesting book and can set people off to look for similar points of views on the other religions in the world.

- 29/07/2013
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