Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
A reader sent me the following video of a TED conference lecture about atheism. The presenter, Alain de Botton, is a descendant of Avraham de Boton (c. 1560-c. 1605), author of the Lechem Mishneh commentary on Rambam's Mishneh Torah. Unlike his illustrious ancestor, Alain de Botton is an atheist who considers belief in any supernatural entity to be mistaken. But he also has words of criticism for militant atheists such as Richard Dawkins who consider religion to be not only wrong in its theological claims, but also a ridiculous way of life. De Botton says that atheists should adopt many aspects of religion, such as its intense focus upon becoming a better person, its way of reinforcing its messages via education, repetition and ritual, and its organizational structure, amongst other aspects:
After watching his presentation, I was thinking that while his ideas for how atheists should change their approach are good, it's just not going to happen on any significant scale. Religious communities provide a framework to sustain and perpetuate the values and practices that De Botton admires, which are not going to be provided in a society of atheists. If these values and practices are really that important to him, he might as well just rejoin the Jewish community of his ancestors and keep quiet about his lack of beliefs!
(Hat-tip: David Meir)