No vamos a peregrinajes. No construimos templos. Al fin y al cabo, toda la estructura social, con sus aciertos y errores, descansa sobre la materia esencial del comportamiento humano…Si mejoramos al individuo, lo mejoramos todo. Los conquistadores mongoles se hicieron musulmanes. Los emperadores chinos promovieron el budismo. Las religiones comprenden el valor de entrenar nuestras mentes con un rigor al que estamos acostumbrados a aplicar solo para entrenar nuestros cuerpos.

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Chapter one is titled Wisdom without Doctrine, yet one of the most common ideas presented throughout the rest of the book is that atheists should adopt the highly prescriptive approach of religions, which dictate precisely what, when and how we should learn, think, communicate and even eat.

This is a book where papal edicts are seen as a good thing, as they create and ensure uniformity. Everyone thinking and doing things the same way because someone in a position of knowledge read power decrees it apparently trumps the plurality of ideas and practices that stem from individual, rational, scientific thinking.

People thinking for themselves is apparently just too messy. How de Botton cannot see that adopting the dogmatic approach of the religious is the very antithesis of the ideal of free-thinking that he apparently loves, is beyond me.

Just awful. Knowledge must be fed to us slowly and carefully, like food cut into manageable bites. Many, if not most, of his ideas are absurd, but there is one example I want to give because it genuinely made me laugh out loud. Hallelujah, Praise Goethe! The idea was swiftly, and rightly, torn to shreds as soon as it came to light but not before, of course, fuelling publicity for this book.

London is full of sites — churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship — that are evocative of something beyond the human world.

Better spend the money that is being raised for the new temple on religious buildings that are in disrepair than waste it on a monument to a defunct version of unbelief. A rant about poor university teaching accompanied by a picture of a student asleep at a desk, for those without the imagination to know what a bored student might look like. A few graphs aside, the illustrations add little or nothing to the text and prove to be little more than padding.

Take the 90 or so superfluous illustrations away and the whole volume would be a third shorter and a much truer reflection of the flimsiness of the ideas within.

The book would also be more accurately titled Judeo-Christian Religion for Atheists, as save for a couple of nods in the direction of Buddhism, all the other major world religions are completely ignored. That said, de Botton has stated many a time that he prefers a non-combative approach to discussing religion and I think this was just an excuse to avoid the inevitable overblown controversy caused by a small group of easily offended Muslims.

The narrow, dictated wisdom of religion is precisely what has held us back and is the cause of much of the strife caused by the religious. Why would we want any of that?


Religion for Atheists



Religión para ateos





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