My friend Anja was right to wonder whether the pop-philosopher Alain de Botton has taken leave of his senses, and is on the ball in her realisation that de Botton’s grandiose and grotesque plan for a “temple to atheism” in central London is an exercise in self-deification. I laughed out loud on reading Robert Booth’s Guardian article, and imagined the one true prophet Richard Dawkins (PBUH) turning a deep shade of puce on doing same.
Of all the criticisms of de Botton’s foolishness, the one that stands out for me comes from Anglican priest Katherine Rumens…
“You need a welcome, a sense of belonging and of wanting to return. It might make you feel so insignificant you wouldn’t know how to start. What would this say to somebody who is mentally frail or nearing the end of their life? How does that really speak to the human condition?”
This sums up what I miss in no longer being part of the church community. There is as yet no secular substitute for a religious community welcome born of selfless love.
Lofty humanist intellectuals such as Alain de Botton have their head in the heavens, and little understanding of the human condition. If it requires a priest or other believer in supernatural nonsense to have real feeling for their fellow human beings, then we are all screwed.
Give me Dawkins’ “destructive atheism” any day. In fact, put him in a room with the Reverend Rumens, and you could end up with a genuinely constructive dialogue.