Exploring the philosophical, ethical, spiritual, existential, social, and personal implications of a godless universe, and supporting their study at Middle Tennessee State University & beyond.
Religion is not the only route to community. It just seems to be one of the more insidious ones.
First, it seems Botton is arguing for institutionalized 'connection, ritual, and transcendence" --the very lock-step type of thought many atheists find repulsive in the first place. That autocratic, authoritarian, totalitarian, top-down Platonic view of "community" that immediately gets corrupted when the ill-intentioned muscle their way into leadership position in ways that would make Machiavelli proud. Secondly, the only difference between atheism, atheism 1.0, and atheism 2.0 is in the beta testing stage atheists were set on fire.Look at the moon? Oh yeah, that's fine, just don't use the telescope.
I think that the free marketplace approach will work fine for this kind of stuff. Is there an atheist or freethinker meetup group that you enjoy interacting with? Sign up! Can't find one that satisfies your connectivity needs? Start one yourself. People just naturally seem to crave connection with other like minded people, the whole birds of a feather thing. The rub comes when you try to enforce your group's views on other groups. Religions have excelled at this over the years, but that tendency can be reversed by removing the sword from the hands of the church. When a person doesn't fear death or exile for nonbelief, it's amazing how quick they start coming out of the woodwork.
I agree and, further, your point exemplifies that atheism is not a belief--a theistic criticism and a deliberately fabricated distortion derived from psychological projection-- but rather the non-belief in the supernatural. The umbrella of non-beleief in the supernatural could include a myriad of interests, and each pursued for its own sake. Atheism find fairies, Santa, gnomes, and gods all on the same metaphysical footing. It would seem silly to from an institution around what one doesn't believe, e.g., The American Association of Non-stamp Collectors (AANC). The thought of that makes me...well...antsy.
But, at least once I want to attend the church service where shouts of "Thank you Shakespeare! Praise Jane Austen!" ring out!A congregation/community of atheists clearly will have to be very loosely gathered, if at all. But at least they can text each other. (Have you seen the Simpsons episode in which the minister bemoans his decision to make the sanctuary a wifi Hot Spot?)
Just the thought of sanctifying the phrase "WIFI Hot Spot" gives me pause only to imagine the comedic possibilities. I sense a Matt Stone-Trey Parker musical in the making. "Thank you Cartman!"
A commenter on the TED blog suggested we need Religion 2.0 not Atheism 2.0. That, to me, sounds like a great idea: a kinder, gentler, more tolerant, and less bigoted religion. Unfortunately, Rob Bell already tried that by writing a book with evidently the extremely offensive title of "Love Wins." Several Christian denominations labeled him a heretic for his "radical" views on eternal punishment and a schizophrenic idea of God, which, evidently, keeps many Christians from running amok. Thank Goodness we still have a godless constitution and secular government.
Bell also had a pretty sympathetic reception in many circles, so I would say that progress is being made towards a kinder, gentler religion. Just taking gay equality as one issue, there has been very considerable progress make in recent years (despite the vocal opposition.) In many ways, Religion 2.0 would mitigate much of the need for Atheism 2.0.
Of course PZ tears this guy a new one:"This is not what the New Atheism is about. It’s the antithesis of what we’re after. We’ve had a few thousand years of the godly shuffle: here’s a temple to Zeus, he’s out so we swap in Jupiter; he’s not exciting, let’s try Isis; now Mithras; Jehovah; Jesus; Mohammed; back to Catholicism; on to Protestantism; oh, you’re atheists, eh, here’s a fine altar, hardly been used, we’ll just rededicate it to your god Athe then. New gods same as the old gods, right?Wrong. It’s that the whole structure of religious thought is wrong, that we’ve been spending these few thousand years digging the same old pit, deeper and deeper, maybe putting a little more gilt on the shovel and roofing it over with ever fancier architecture, but now we’re saying maybe it’s time to climb out of the hole and do something different. I don’t want a new label, I want whole new modes of thought."