8 of 22 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion (Hardcover)
Botton's basic premise for this book is that religions have value above and beyond their supernatural claims.
Having made that assertion, Botton then claims that even atheists can build on that base and study religions in order to teach us something about society - how it functions, and how it can be better organised.
For me, Botton failed to demonstrate that either of these assertions is true.
Along the way, Botton makes a number of other specious claims - most notably that modern society Is nostalgic for a mythical golden age when people knew what community meant, and that modern life has lost some basic humanity.
Organised religions show, daily, every sign of having been designed, by and for, priests with avowedly worldly concerns. Botton ignores this, or is he blind to it - or ignorant of it? This is the basic flaw in the book. Botton may have written it with good intentions, but such an omission is a sin so great that the book's central thesis is undermined to the point that it becomes valueless.
As if this were not enough, Botton set up this straw man in order to posit how religions can teach us about certain aspects of our lives.
Botton talks of rites of passage as if they are being lost - yet those with any real value, such as marriage, are being replaced with religious-neutral alternatives while others, such as confirmation or bar mitzvah (having no, or ambiguous, value) are being lost at some saving to humanity.
Botton also says some pretty snobbish things about tertiary education - apparently, If your Uni wasn't top-draw, or your subject was in any way connected with utility, then you really need to study something to make you a more rounded person. You know, like Underwater Spiritual-Hued Harmonies.
Art is the great gift of religion according to Botton. Botton fails to explain why some people are happy - nay, fulfilled - by 24 hour radio stations that only play 20th Century popular music, picture books of celebrities, television soap operas, bingo and 'southern fried' chicken and chips.
Botton thinks he is an intellectual. He isn't.
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Initial post: Sep 17, 2013 1:57:18 PM PDT
J. Grier says:
"Botton fails to explain why some people are happy - nay, fulfilled - by 24 hour radio stations that only play 20th Century popular music, picture books of celebrities, television soap operas, bingo and 'southern fried' chicken and chips."
You are sure they are happy?
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