Alain de Botton – Atheists Can Raid Religion for the Best Bits [13:28]


Famous writer and philosopher Alain de Botton argues that atheists don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater of religion.  We should treat religions as cultural works and buffets from which we can pick and choose.  Topics that religion have held a monopoly on like ethics, community, ritual, meaning, and so forth can be separated out.  If it works and makes sense in a naturalistic worldview then we should keep it, and maybe even learn a few lessons from religion.  Two-thirds of the way in, Botton is given questions by several Christians on the panel.  Given the discussion of sex at the end means this may be better suited for older students.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some topics or issues that religion historically held a monopoly on?
  • Can we learn from religions and take these lessons as our own? Or is religion a package deal?
  • What do you think of the “self-help” lessons that Botton says we can take from religion?
  • Do you think that Humanists and atheists can form useful “structures” and “rituals”?
  • What would a Humanist pilgrimage look like?  Where would you go?

Keywords: humanism, atheism, religion, doctrine, Botton


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