(Part of the reason atheism looks the way it does now, and is so lacking in warm fuzzies like "Love and Completeness are Your Spiritual Right," is because it is a refuge for people who think warm fuzzies are bullshit.)
It took the barefaced audacity of Friedrich Nietzsche to point out that if God was dead, then so was Man – or at least the conception of humanity favoured by the guardians of social order.
He says he wants the ritualistic and communal aspects of religion without the doctrine. That reminds me of Oscar Wilde loving the incense and costume of Catholic mass without caring at all for its values. It is - or could easily become - a form of dandy-ish aestheticism.
It seems an individualistic, lonely project, for all De Botton's longing for community. If you want the community of religion, then you need to commit, as a group, to a particular set of ethics, beliefs, or 'doctrines'...
Of course you can set up an ethical community which isn't theistic - but that community would still needs to decide what ethics it follows, what it demands from its followers, and decide what is the end it is striving for...
De Botton's School of Life, by contrast, does not offer people a particular ethics for them to commit to. That's why it is so far from a church, despite its 'Sunday sermons'. It is a philosophy shop - people pay to listen to various ideas, without having to commit to any of them.
A genuine 'religion for atheists' would have to decide: what does it demand from its members? It would have to go beyond the rather easy market liberalism of the School of Life, and actually ask its members to make ethical sacrifices and commitments. Without that shared ethics and commitment, the community you end up with is inevitably going to be shallow, with much weaker ties than a genuine religion or philosophical movement. Not really a community at all, more a loose collection of strangers...
De Botton seems horrified by the thought of committing to particular beliefs, values, doctrines. He wants to move beyond market liberalism, but he's afraid to, perhaps because he's afraid it would put off his audience and make him seem Victorian and Thomas Carlyle-esque. He wants to keep his tongue in his cheek and his audience chuckling along. He wants to keep it light. No doctrines here, tra la la.
Atheism has no significant bearing on any of those [truly important] issues. They are structural problems that require structural solutions. The right to have a fucking show of hands on who believes in the imaginary magical man and who doesn't is going to do precious little to advance those solutions. So let's stop talking about atheism like it's a priority.
[t]he right to have a fucking show of hands on who believes in the imaginary magical man and who doesn't[, which] is going to do precious little to advance . . . solutions [to AIDS, cancer, and gay rights].
I have every intention of giving vocal atheists the benefit of the doubt. I have no intention of giving hateful people the benefit of the doubt. I realize that I might get carried away with some of the comments I make on the internet -- but that person went way beyond what I'd consider reasonable. That's straight-up hate. "I got fired by a group of asshole Christians for the crime of not believing in their hate god" -- vitriolic, spiteful, childish, and completely unreasonable. It sucks that s/he lost the job, I guess, but there's no justification for that. I don't care how much you identify with your atheism: There is no defense for that kind of thinking. And you're picking that for your atheist poster child?
31-year-old Alexander Aan faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for posting “God does not exist” on Facebook. The civil servant was attacked and beaten by an angry mob of dozens who entered his government office at the Dharmasraya Development Planning Board on Wednesday. The Indonesian man was taken into protective police custody Friday since he was afraid of further physical assault.
"Jessica Ahlquist may have won her case, but she's going straight to hell #Godovereverything"
"Hmm jess is in my bio class, she's gonna get some shit thrown at her."
"'But for real, somebody should jump this girl' lmao let's do it!"
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