Lady Cordelia #CBR5 Review #01: Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton


The premise behind this book intrigued me: what if religions are neither all true nor all nonsense?  Personally, I am a rather practical minded atheist, which I think will be the largest demographic that reads this book, but really, there is something here for everyone.  The discussion on religion has been so long a boring shouting match between two sets of hardliners, that this middle road seems incredibly logical and welcome.

De Botton’s argument is that while the “supernatural” aspects of religion may be false, there is still much value to be had from religious teachings in how to live in the modern age.  The book is divided into a number of themes: community, kindness, education, perspective, art etc., where de Botton suggests ways that all people regardless of religion can make use of a variety of religious teachings in order to live better, more fulfilling lives.  The tone is respectful and does not bang on about how rational people could not possibly be religious, but instead looks across a number of major religions to find universal human truths.   I think that this analysis resonates in a way that fundamentalist religious doctrine or atheist doctrine does not.

One of my favourite parts of this book were the images selected to highlight particular themes.  An image of St Agnes of Montepulciano was titled “probably just a very nice person”, which gives you some understanding as to the tone of the book.  This is not a weighty, in depth textbook, but rather a very accessible read that I think would appeal to a great number of people.

Yours truly, Lady Cordelia

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