How should atheists approach religion: disregard it entirely, or attempt to salvage the best while leaving the rest? Moving on from the stale and unproductive atheists vs. believers debate, renowned philosopher Alain de Botton argues for a more helpful and progressive alternative."
Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton is a British writer and television producer who employs a philosophical and accessible approach to examining a variety of subjects from the abstract--love and happiness--to the material--architecture.
In August 2008, he founded an unconventional new educational establishment in central London called The School of Life, which offers intelligent instruction on how to lead a fulfilled life. De Botton is a frequent contributor to numerous newspapers, journals and magazines and is a member of the Arts Council of England's literature panel.
De Botton owns and helps run his own production company, Seneca Productions, which regularly broadcasts television documentaries based on his work. His most recent book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, is an examination of the modern workplace and the role work has played in our lives throughout history.
Alain de Botton thinks that secularists should become "social entrepreneurs" that adopt some of the ritual and community aspects of religion and infuse them into the modern. For de Botton, belief should not be a determining factor of some religious practices.
Alain de Botton is a pretty weak thinker, and I've been following his work since his Consolations came out so this isn't just an opinion made on the back of this video.
Obviously he's right to move the discussion on from "Hahaha, look at those crazy folks at the Westboro Baptist Church" etc, but his proposals are quite feeble. Do we really think that anything will come of trying to take social goods of religion and applying them to some kind of atheist community?
Such a project would obviously be doomed, on a number of different levels, but it's controversial enough that Botton gets to sell his books...so why should he worry about the details, eh?