This just in, from the Department of “Can you imagine this happening in the United States?” Two prominent atheists – popular philosopher Alain de Botton and popular science author Richard Dawkins – are sparring over the wisdom of erecting a “temple for atheists” in London.
No, but seriously folks.
In his latest book, Religion For Atheists, De Botton argues that even atheists have a soft-spot for the sort of grandiose architecture commonly associated with churches, mosques and temples. He has thus raised some 500,000 British pounds (approximately $786,000) to construct what he refers to as a “secular space for contemplation” in the heart of the city’s financial district. Although many in the West have little time for organized religion, they still have feel nostalgic for its “consoling, subtle or just charming rituals,” as he put it in an interview with a columnist at The Daily Telegraph.
In part, de Botton is motivated by a desire to counter what he sees as the “destructive beliefs” about atheism put forward by scholars like Richard Dawkins and the late journalist Christopher Hitchens, whom he sees as criticizing religion without offering anything more inspirational in its place. De Botton wants, instead, to borrow the idea of awe-inspiring buildings that give people a better sense of perspective on life.
Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog…
Image: Atheists by yoshinari via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.