An Atheist for Religion
In Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton urges nonbelievers to pick and choose religions’ best offerings
Essayist and philosopher-for-the-masses Alain de Botton is best known for How Proust Can Change Your Life, in which he plumbs Remembrance of Things Past for lessons on how to live a more fulfilling life. De Botton has also written books on love, travel, and architecture. In his newest book, Religion for Atheists, de Botton tackles religion. Here he argues that, in rejecting religion wholesale, atheists are unnecessarily depriving themselves of world religions’ prodigious cultural, spiritual, and ethical offerings. His “pick and choose” approach to religion–rejecting central tenets like, say, a belief in God, while borrowing concepts like Judaism’s Day of Atonement–will surely rub some believers the wrong way. But de Botton is addressing a different audience, including many self-identified “cultural Jews” whose ignorance of Judaism he laments. London-based reporter Hugh Levinson spoke to de Botton in London about his own religious background (or lack thereof), the possibility of being religious without having faith, and how the secular world holds on to the memory of religious tyranny while it ignores the religious world’s ability to transmit knowledge.
Here’s their conversation. [Running time: 18:53.]
I thought Jewish law left no role for me to grieve when my fiancé’s brother died. Now, I finally can.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.