Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The church of what's happenin' NOW

Alain de Botton has announced plans to build a series of temples for atheists in the UK. The move follows the publication of de Botton’s latest book, Religion for Atheists.
Why should religious people have the most beautiful buildings in the land?’ he asks. ‘It’s time atheists had their own versions of the great churches and cathedrals... You can build a temple to anything that’s positive and good. That could mean: a temple to love, friendship, calm or perspective... Even the most convinced atheists tend to speak nicely about religious buildings. They may even feel sad that nothing like them gets built nowadays. But there’s no need to feel nostalgic. Why not just learn from religions and build similarly beautiful and interesting things right now?
More modestly, you could worship at Atheist Station in Pennsylvania.


  1. Dean sent this along. Pass the plate?

  2. "Why should religious people have the most beautiful buildings in the land?’ he asks. ‘It’s time atheists had their own versions of the great churches and cathedrals..."

    If I feel the need to experience grand architecture and pay 'tithes,' The Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and the MGM Grand immediately come to mind.

    Sans pay-to-play, I would gravitate more towards the beauty of simplicity.

  3. I still don't see the need for a "church".

    It's paradoxical for a non-believer to want to congregate. What would be discussed that requires a church setting (other than for irony's sake, I suppose)?

    I like the idea of just hanging out with friends, sure, but I draw the line at organizing an un-organizable belief structure. Atheists come in all shapes and sizes, there is no one text, and there are certainly no specific commandments, tenets, etc...Why church? Are they that envious of theists? Do they really want to sit in an uncomfortable seat, in silence, and listen to some random guy talk about not-God? How would the service go exactly? Show up...whenever, I guess...then we'll erm...talk? Yeah...Talk...


  4. Jerry Coyne (whose blog I regularly follow) on this atheist temple business:

    "Some people claim that atheists must adopt some formalities of religion (Botton suggests things like temples and sermons), while others—many on this site—don’t feel they need them. It’s clear that we are social beings, and do need to interact with our fellow humans and to feel supported by them. But, as the example of secular Europe shows, that can be done successfully without borrowing any of the rituals of faith. There’s nothing more to be said. Putting away temples and sermons, even when we are atheists, represents the last act in discarding our childish things."

  5. An update and explanation from de Button: