Religion for Atheists

Religion for Atheists : A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion

3.65 (10,701 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.65 (10,701 ratings by Goodreads)

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"What if religions are neither all true nor all nonsense?" The long-running and often boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers is finally moved forward by Alain de Botton s inspiring new book, which boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are entirely false but that it still has some very important things to teach the secular world.
"Religion for Atheists "suggests that rather than mocking religion, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from it because the world s religions are packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies. Blending deep respect with total impiety, de Botton (a non-believer himself)proposes that we look to religion for insights into how to, among other concerns, build a sense of community, make our relationships last, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, inspire travel and reconnect with the natural world.
For too long non-believers have faced a stark choice between either swallowing some peculiar doctrines or doing away with a range of consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas. At last, in "Religion for Atheists, " Alain de Botton has fashioned a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative."
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 145 x 206 x 25mm | 499g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0307379108
  • 9780307379108
  • 66,503

Table of contents


I.      Wisdom without Doctrine
II.     Community
III.    Kindness
IV.    Education
V.     Tenderness
VI.    Pessimism
VII.   Perspective
VIII.  Art
IX.    Architecture
X.     Institutions
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Review quote

Praise for "Religion for Atheists"
Highly original and thought-provoking book..... de Botton is a lively, engaging writer." "Publishers Weekly" starred review
Quirky, often hilarious Focusing on just three major faiths Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism [de Botton] makes a convincing case for their ability to create both a sense of community and education that addresses morality and our emotional life. "Washington Post "
One has to appreciate his pluck as much as his lucid, enjoyable arguments, and this book, like his previous titles, is a serious but intellectually wild ride. If anyone can rescue some of what is beautiful, touching and wise from all that no longer seems true, it s de Botton. "Miami Herald"
[De Botton] demonstrates his usual urbane, intelligent, and witty prose, always entertaining and worth reading this book will advance amicable discussion among both believers and disbelievers.
" Library Journal"
His approach, entertaining and enlightening, provides the thoughtful reader with endless enjoyment and an insight into de Botton's beliefs as well as his generous appraisal of the beliefs of others brings insight and understanding to how religion may enhance the lives of nonbelievers. Shelf Awareness
In earnest and lyrical prose, de Botton illuminates the practical functions of religion in a secular context compelling. "Kansas City Star"
A new book by Alain de Botton is always a treat De Botton is literate, articulate, knowledgeable, funny and idiosyncratic.
[De Botton] is a master of the well-heeled, chatty and above all reasonable tone "Religion for Atheists" is provocative and well-intentioned. NPR
A wonderfully dangerous and subversive book. "San Francisco Chronicle "
De Botton writes at his best when he confronts our abiding human frailty I can't help but wholeheartedly recommend de Botton's new book. It provokes thought what continuously separates de Botton apart is his genuine attempt to alleviate loneliness and sadness in a harsh world. If only all writers wrote with such unabashedly kind intentions. "Huffington Post "
Much of the book is common-sensical and insightful, as de Botton rescues what is beautiful, touching and wise from all that seems no longer true the wealth of knowledge and felicity of phrasing that de Botton brings to his task make for a stimulating read Written with de Botton's customary humor, grace and melancholy, "Religion for Atheists" may not always convince. But it always engages. "Seattle Times"
Provocative and thoughtful Particularly noteworthy are de Botton's insights on what education and the arts can borrow from the formats and paradigms of religious delivery. "Atlantic"
Compelling beautifully and wittily illustrated. "Los Angeles Times" Praise for "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work"
Exquisitely written . . . A perceptive philosophical meditation on work, with its extraordinary claim to provide, along with love, the principal source of meaning in our lives.
" The Boston Globe"
The workplace as subject matter brings out the best in de Botton s writing . . . His wit and his powers of ironic observation are on display throughout [this] stylish and original book.
" The Sunday Times "(London)
Like a combination of Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace and pop philosopher Thomas Moore, de Botton s dense, pensive prose expresses a palpable preoccupation with finding better ways of living in our bewilderingly estranged age.
" Salon
" Praise for "The Architecture of Happiness"
A perceptive, thoughtful, original and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.
" The New York Review of Books"
With originality, verve and wit, de Botton explains how we find reflections of our own values in the edifices we make . . . Altogether satisfying.
" San Francisco Chronicle""
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About Alain De Botton

Alain de Botton is the author of essays on themes ranging from love and travel to architecture and philosophy. His best-selling books include "How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel" and "The Architecture of Happiness." He lives in London, where he is the founder and chairman of The School of Life ( and the creative director of Living Architecture (
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Rating details

10,701 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 24% (2,607)
4 35% (3,780)
3 26% (2,814)
2 9% (1,005)
1 5% (495)

Our customer reviews

This book certainly does generate many different trains of thought. De Botton starts with the assumption that there is no god: this book is not about the facts of the existence of a god. He then looks at all the things Christianity (and to a lesser extent Judaism, Buddhism and Shinto) got right. One example is his idea that art galleries are the "secular churches", although he points out that these art galleries do not instruct us on a moral level, and are not imperative, but often passive. A similar idea with learning institutions. This is not a sweeping comparison of all religions to atheism, not religion-bashing. It's very readable, and positively constructive. Be prepared to think!show more
by James Hodson
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