It seems to me that at the core of the distinction between a religious and a non-religious person is the concept of `purpose' for the universe. This is the reason that Darwin's theory of natural selection faced such opposition. Churchmen could accept the idea of an evolving creation, but not of a universe that simply 'is what it is.' One hundred and fifty years on, an increasing number of people are facing up to the prospect of an existentialist cosmos. Many others cannot do so.
Richard Holloway does a neat side step at the beginning of book by apparently supporting the existentialists. He demonstrates that most, if not all the tenets of religion are either unnecessary or necessarily wrong. Most important among these is the impossibility of any absolute truth. He argues that the human condition is not a struggle between right and wrong, but between two mutually exclusive rights. Religion is at best misguided and at worst dangerously oppressive, he seems to say.
But it soon becomes obvious that he is unable to concede the basic principle of purpose. Where traditional religious teachings are inadequate or simply wrong, Richard Holloway offers the unchallengeable explanation that we have misunderstood the enduring purpose of God for us.
The book appears, by its title to suggest that ethical human life is possible without the a priori existence of God. Richard Holloway is an honest, reflective liberal thinker, but it is quite clear that he personally does not believe it is possible.