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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of service to the secular and the religious world
Very commendable for its attempt in redeeming practices that are virtually only known in religious circles.

One of the most obvious pieces of critique one might have against de Botton, is that his book - and this one is no different - is superficial. It lacks the depth and breadth of analytical philosophical works. He does mention a few philosophers, but...
Published 16 months ago by Harm Hilvers

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97 of 112 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far below par for Alain de Botton
I really like Alain de Botton and his accessible, absorbing approach to philosophy. But I really didn't enjoy this book, I'm afraid.

The structure of each chapter the book is very formulaic:
a) Identify a positive aspect of religion
b) Muse that this is lacking in modern society
c) Propose a secular solution

The majority of his...
Published on 5 July 2012 by Dr. Simon Howard


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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too limited in religions considered, 2 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Paperback)
This is an example of a good subject by a good writer, but one that is limited in experience in a avriety of religions. Too much of the religious sources are from the jewish religion which most of us are unfamiliar with.

The author needs co-writers with solid experience of other religions.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half True, 10 Mar. 2012
This book gets three stars from me for its humanistic outlook. I fully agree that all the great religions have something to teach that will help human beings cope better with themselves, others and life in general, independently from dogma. But there is no need to say God does not exist. How do you know? I myself have no doubt there is a God. You can reach it or let it come to you just by making yourself available to that experience. As a child I was introduced to Catholicism. It's through that religion I found God. But I am convinced I could equally have found it through another good religion. There was a time in history the concept of one God was put forward as an advancement from the concept of multiple gods. In my view, we are reaching a new stage. It's time human beings leave their childish competition of 'my dad's car is bigger than yours', or my religion is greater than yours, and move forwards. Each genuine religion is an honest human effort to reach what is beyond us mortals. The immortal reality is out there, or in you if you let it come in, waiting to be revealed. Any genuine religion will be a good route to it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for the noughties, 27 Oct. 2012
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The summary as written on line prepared one for this book. No great surprises. Enjoyable to read if this is your taste in literature
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prompt delivery, used book as new., 22 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Paperback)
Father Christmas did not come up with this book as requested so I had to source it myself. Glad to support St Michael's Hospice.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking book, 8 May 2014
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This review is from: Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Paperback)
Bought this for my daughter to read to assist in writing her dissertation for her final year of Sociology at University.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly thought provoking, 28 April 2012
as always by Alain, very very good...now please can he do a follow up with other religions...so much more on this topic.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow, 8 Feb. 2012
Suprisingly witty, thought provoking, different. a must buy.

Great Read and would certainly recommend to anyone wishimg to explore their social ambition.
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23 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Creating Dissension for no Reason, 2 Feb. 2012
De Botton has not only written a totally unnecessary book with the sort of title geared to help the mouse clicks, he has made a media splash by publishing his desire to build a church for atheists. All this apparently to counter inter alia Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett.

I cannot believe that this self-styled atheist who is obviously looking for a higher media profile cannot see the problems he is causing for atheism and secularism and is playing right into the hands of the religionists. It saddens me that this man who can be entertaining has not grown up much since his first book. Nor has he anything to say that has not been said before. Dennett reads better and Stenger is more forceful than Dawkins.

Atheists do not want nor need the cringe making public display of a (£1 million and only the first of a series) monument when there are repositories of learning throughout the land that provide talks and reference material to all rationalists, atheists, agnostics and philosophers everywhere. Museums, libraries, art galleries and Conway Hall will do for the non-religious community.

The medieval churches are done and dusted - no repeat performance - and have survived the ravages of time. Their grandeur, architecture and artistry have inspired and delighted people from all over the world.

Sad as it may be but I won't be losing any sleep over this author's ideas and scribblings. I will consign De Botton to the bottom of the garden where he can wallow and cool his blood. I won't be reading any more of his stuff. I certainly wouldn't visit an 'Atheist Church'.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Got stuck at the title, 28 Jan. 2014
By 
jfpco (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Paperback)
I'm a non-believer
But I am not an atheist
Perhaps the non-believer in the subtitle is de Botton and the book is for atheists ?
Perhaps not
So should I read on or not ?
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4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Atheism is dead, 26 Feb. 2013
By 
trini "HWS" (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Paperback)
When amazon delivered my copy of Alain de Botton's `Religion for Atheists' a couple of weeks ago, I read the first chapter, `Wisdom without Doctrine', a few days before I went on to read the rest of the book. This first chapter struck me as the worst-presented argument I had ever read. I am absolutely astonished at the case which de Botton presented there, and which, as I later read through the book, he repeats and repeats and repeats and then summarizes in his final chapter on `Institutions', in which he tells us that Auguste Comte (1798-1857) had anticipated much of what he (de Botton) is now proposing and recommending, but which Comte failed to implement and which de Botton seems to have no hope of being able to implement either.

de Botton ends his introductory chapter with this paragraph: " ... this book ... tries ... to examine aspects of religious life which contain concepts that could fruitfully be applied to the problems of secular society. It attempts to burn off religions' more dogmatic aspects in order to distil a few aspects of them that could prove timely and consoling to sceptical contemporary minds facing the crises and griefs of finite existence on a troubled planet. It hopes to rescue some of what is beautiful, touching and wise from all that no longer seems true" (p. 19).

In this unbelievably blinkered book, de Botton makes a number of statements which are so naïve and unproved and unprovable and hopelessly cloud-cuckoo-land-ish that one must wonder how any publisher (here, Penguin) would publish it.

I quote: " ... let us bluntly state that of course no religions are true in any God-given sense" (p. 11). What proof does de Botton produce for this statement? None whatsoever, neither here nor anywhere else in his book. He goes on: "Tough-minded critics of religion have found much pleasure in laying bare the idiocy of believers in remorseless detail, finishing only when they felt that they had shown up their enemies as thorough-going simpletons or maniacs" (p.11). de Botton never mentions the huge scholarly arguments which thoroughly disprove the atheists' case and show that it is the atheists who are the enemies of philosophy, common sense, and science. The verdict which de Botton passes on the believing `simpletons and maniacs' is simply correctly attributable to de Botton himself.

I quote from a review of a book similar to de Botton's, by his fellow-atheist AC Grayling, `The God Argument: the Case against Religion and for Humanism'. The review of Grayling's book says: "People are still debating whether or not `Life of Pi', book or film, can make you believe in God. The novel didn't have that effect on me. AC Grayling's book came much closer: his `case for humanism' made me begin to long for faith ... What's most lamentable about this book [Grayling's] is not the quirks of tone, the Infelicities of emphasis or the inconsistency, indeed occasional lack, of method. It's the façade of appreciating how believers have created great art, without recognizing the imaginative process behind it, and indeed behind faith". [The review is by Tom Payne, and appears in the Daily Telegraph's Saturday magazine supplement `Review', of 23 February 2013 - before the Oscars considered the film `The Life of Pi'.]

I can quote in the same sense Lord Rees (the Astronomer Royal), and the philosopher John Gray and Richard Dawkins, all atheists (or nearly so), who all agree that random atoms cannot account for the great art and music and literature of the Christian tradition - but they can offer no alternative explanation. They simply expect us to believe that in some mysterious way the random atoms MUST be able eventually to explain this fact.

De Botton goes on: "The premise of this book is that it must be possible to remain a committed atheist and nevertheless find religions sporadically useful, interesting and consoling, and be curious as to the possibilities of importing certain of their ideas and practices into the secular realm" (pp. 11,12). Notice the absurdity of de Botton's case. He does not say that his book will show how it is possible to remain a committed atheist and nevertheless ..." He tells us instead that IT MUST BE POSSIBLE TO REMAIN A COMMITTED ATHEIST AND NEVERTHELESS find religions sporadically useful ... ". But this is an act of blind atheistic faith. It is what his book should be attempting to prove. But he offers not one shred of proof. WHY MUST IT BE POSSIBLE TO REMAIN A COMMITTED ATHEIST AND NEVERTHELESS ... "?

de Botton goes on: "We can then recognize that we invented religions [trini asks: did `we' invent Jesus Christ and the New Testament?] to serve two central needs which continue to this day and which secular society has not been able to solve with any particular skill: first, to live together in communities in harmony, despite our deeply rooted selfish and violent impulses. And second, the need to cope with terrifying degrees of pain which arise from our vulnerability to professional failure, to troubled relationships, to the death of loved ones and to our decay and demise. God may be dead, but the urgent issues which impelled us to make him up still stir and demand resolutions which do not go away when we have been nudged to perceive some scientific inaccuracies in the tale of the seven loaves and fishes" (p. 12). One simply cannot take de Botton seriously as a thinker. He seems unable to perceive any link between effect and cause. He tells us that 'religions' which we invented, created the answers to all human problems, but nevertheless religion can't have created these solutions, because religion doesn't exist independently.

He goes on: "I never wavered in my certainty that God did not exist. I was simply liberated by the thought that there might be a way to engage with religion without having to subscribe to the supernatural content" (p. 14). [Really?} And so on and so on. De Botton endlessly praises religion for providing all the answers to mankind's problems, but he goes on and on and on saying that religion `invented' these correct solutions, and that it is now up to atheism to provide the same solutions to these same problems, but without a `religious' base, and only after removing from these solutions everything that religion provided as the solutions (but which de Botton, with total illogicality, will not concede to be the very reason why these solutions worked). The trouble for de Botton, however, is that, as he everywhere recognizes, there is no sign whatever of purely secular, atheistic, humanistic concepts and purely atheistic, secular and humanistic `thinkers ` ever being able to make the required solutions work. For de Botton, the religious explanation (`plan A') must be eliminated, but over and over again de Botton concedes that his atheistic solution (`plan B') will not work with real human beings in the real world in which we live, and he has no `plan C'. (What about returning to `plan A'?)

There is the continuous insistence by de Botton, in every chapter, that every human need has been met by traditional religious (especially Christian) teachings and practices and institutions, but unbelievably he thinks it is now the task of the atheists to re-make and re-found all these dying (but essential) Christian practices and institutions with exactly similar (but atheistically founded) practices and institutions - which de Botton repeatedly admits will not and cannot work.

Nietzsche, God is not dead.
de Botton, atheism is dead.
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