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Q: If we were to replace religion with a secular equivalent, who would be our gurus?
A: We don't need a central structure. We are beyond the age of gurus and inspirational leaders. We are in the age of the Wiki structure. This means that it is up to all of us to look at religion and see what bits we can steal and place into the modern world. We might all contribute to the construction of new temples, not the government, but the concerned, interested individual. The salvation of the individual soul remains a serious problem--even when we dismiss the idea of God. In the 20th century, capitalism has really solved (in the rich West) the material problems of a significant portion of mankind. But the spiritual needs are still in chaos, with religion ceasing to answer the need. This is why I wrote my book, to show that there remains a new way: a way of filling the modern world with so many important lessons from religion, and yet not needing to return to any kind of occult spirituality.Q: Don't you think that, in order to truly appreciate religious music and art, you have to be a believer--or, at least, don't you think that non-believers miss something important in the experience? A: I am interested in the modern claim that we have now found a way to replace religion: with art. You often hear people say, 'Museums are our new churches'. It's a nice idea, but it's not true, and it's principally not true because of the way that museums are laid out and present art. They prevent anyone from having an emotional relationship with the works on display. They encourage an academic interest, but prevent a more didactic and therapeutic kind of contact. I recommend in my book that even if we don't believe, we learn to use art (even secular art) as a resource for comfort, identification, guidance and edification, very much what religions do with art.
And we all know that things weren't always so nice and pretty as they seem today.
While I don't agree with all the things Alain de Botton says, he has a lot of interesting ideas, and the book as a whole is very thought provoking.
Religion also helps us create community and can help us reflect on our moral character.
I expected a lot more from this book after hearing Alain's TED podcast. Love the premise, don't love the execution. A bit obvious at times and a bit redundant. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Alex Iskold
I'm a life-long agnostic, not an atheist. Nevertheless, I felt that this book is full of interesting insights. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Richard Lyle McClure
He makes a good case for Atheism to be considered as a religion and it is clear that the Atheists need a book like the bible in which writings containing the principles of Atheism... Read morePublished 27 days ago by ALEXANDER GARDNER
A thoughtful book which highlights the benefits religions have provided and continue to provide human beings. Read morePublished 1 month ago by MR PHILIP J RAMSTAD
A brilliant deconstruction of religion understandable and believable. The construct as a positive influence in society can be taken as beneficial to society even by a life-long... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cornelia(CONNIE) MacErlean author of "Baggage"
A very thought provoking read. It goes to the heart of the subject of goodness & soul nourishment and gives practical examples of achieving this, without superstitious connections. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lisa Clough
Alain de Botton's book is a very important one. Written for atheists by an atheist, it discusses the various methods religions employ to benefit the lives of practitioners, and how... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kurt Archer
I am an atheist who grew up (as much of the U.S. population) deeply immersed in religion. While I gained much value in my initial journey from the New Atheists' attacks on... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dayton King