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Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion
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Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Paperback)

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From one of our greatest voices in modern philosophy, author of The Course of Love, The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel and The School of Life

'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

'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

Alain de Botton takes us one step further than Dawkins or Hitchens ventured - into a world of ideas beyond the God debate...

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 the major religions 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, Alain de Botton presents a range of fascinating ideas and practical insights on art, community, love, friendship, work, life and death. He shows how they can be of use to us all, irrespective of whether we do or don't believe.

Philosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesNon-Western philosophyIslamic & Arabic philosophyPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesPhilosophy TheoryPopular philosophyPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesSocial groupsReligious groups: social & cultural aspectsReligion & BeliefsReligion: generalPhilosophy of religion Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Publication Date: 07/02/2013 ISBN-13: 9780141046310  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Alain de Botton 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, The News: A User's Manual, The Course of Love and The School of Life among many others. Alain is a bestselling author in 30 countries. He lives in London, where he runs The School of Life and Living Architecture.

More books by Alain de Botton

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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