A fascinating Ted.com video with Alain Botton here. He seems to pushing ahead with his request that atheists might consider understanding they are religious and what they might learn from religion. The video blurb asks, 'What aspects of religion should atheists (respectfully) adopt? Alain de Botton suggests a "religion for atheists" -- call it Atheism 2.0 -- that incorporates religious forms and traditions to satisfy our human need for connection, ritual and transcendence.'
Watching it a few things struck me:
1. It seems to make for kinder less arrogant and exclusive atheism. Atheists with humility.
2. He misses that religions already have ways for people to engage with them without holding to any beliefs, i.e very liberal anglicanism. There are lots of religions full of atheists culturally, already.
3. He misses that the culture he wants to fund this atheism 2.0 arises from religious convictions and beliefs. Western culture alone is full of Christianity, although most people think it isn't. For example Shakespeare.
4. Then he seems to think you can separate beliefs from practices. The process of commodification might make that possible, but some of the things he is reaching for are embedded in belief. The beliefs give rise to the practices, or rather they can't be separated. What happens when you strip mine religions for cultural artefacts? Then again if atheists adopt this, they might find these are a gateway drug into theism ;-)
5. Catechism and education in religions does show how we are formed 'religiously'. But there are already religious practices, habituated practices atheists already have, they can't just take them up, they already have them around their beliefs. There is a religious calendar that we already live by in consumerism for example.
6. Sermons: he gets that sermons at their best are about changes lives, not information/lectures
7. I think he would say that there is something about religion that is part of how human beings work, that atheists can't ignore. I'd say he's bumping into something more about religion, that is more than just an artefact of human life, it is a real part of human life.
Make sure you listen to lecture before commenting, otherwise my comments below will be very out of context!