So yes, if you've read the book, and you're keen on defending it, you should be able to address some of the specific issues I see with his entire premise. Feel free to do so in PM if you'd like.
I haven't read the book, but the point is that I disagree with you on what his premise is in the first place
. And unless I'm breaking forum rules I would like to keep our civil discourse public.
I just used it to show that he truly makes the claim that without adhering to specific tenets, atheists are somehow unable to form the answers to day to day moral issues. It's absurd, and it does not follow that his conception of a person, incapable of forming rational decisions, would somehow be able to do so merely by following a religion.
That would be a fine counterargument, if that actually was what he was saying. I think that what he's aiming at is that morality is inherently based on emotional
choices - the desire to feel good and avoid doing what feels bad. In other words: it is irrational. The prisoner's dilemma would suggest suggest that there is some truth to that, not to mention the growing mountain of evidence from psychology that we are social, emotional beings first, and ration beings second.
So just saying
"this is good, this is bad" doesn't work, because humans aren't motivated by fact-based checklist - they need to feel
that something is good or bad, and rituals are a way religions have achieved that. "We the atheists" should steal those tricks.
I mean, even in your 'more fleshed out' interview he states, clearly, that atheists don't form their non-belief due to evidence-based decision making
Sorry to burst your bubble, but again the evidence coming from psychology is that that is actually the case. There's a bunch of articles about it in the same issue of the New Scientist I got this interview from (it's a special issue about religion).
...that people can't consistently be good or kind without religion, that communities need religion as a basis. That's actually super offensive.
That would be super offensive if that was what he said. He says we need to use the methods invented by religion for structuring morality to properly function as a society. Which is not at all the same as saying that we need to believe in God.
You propped this book up as a followup to Dawkins, which almost implies it'd be the same sort of fact-based, non-spiritual, scientific stuff.
Well, as my girlfriend always says: "Almost doesn't count." (Wait, did I just mock myself?)
Please don't make assumptions on what my intentions are, because you're very wrong. I wasn't implying it was fact-based, non-spiritual or scientific. I suggested the book because I expect it to be interesting material on the same subject - namely, religion. I was planning on reading it myself. Yes, I know, it's rather awkward that it turned into me defending a book I haven't read (well, I'm defending the premise more than the book, actually). I have seen multiple lectures by Alain de Botton (two on the RSA youtube channel, one on Vimeo), read some articles by him, and I quite enjoy his way of thinking.
Instead it's just some guy, prolific and well read as he is, portraying atheists as these almost inhuman, soulless beings incapable of acting within a community, etc.
I mean, if you can show me that this dude isn't just making sweeping truth claims without any basis in reality, go ahead, I'll be glad to consider them.
Does he even have any reason to assert that atheists are inferior at behaving within communities, or coming to decent moral decisions?
I see only one person making sweeping truth claims here. No, I'm not going to defend "his" claims, because he isn't making them to begin with.
he makes (one of the RSA lectures basically is an abridged version of the book) actually fit quite well with the recent turnaround in psychology about what makes people tick (again, we're basically just (predictably) irrational, socially oriented beings, with rationality tacked on, and we'd be much better of if we designed our systems to cope with that).
BTW, there certainly is a case to be made about how reductionist, rational thinking can go very. very
wrong. The justification for a lot of very crappy modern art and horribly unlivable architecture comes to mind.
As it is, the book just seems sort of like it's coasting on how fringe it is, compared to the views of most atheists. Bragging about how many atheists disagree with his idea of there being atheist temples sort of cements that, as well.
You read that paragraph as him bragging, I read that as him saying that people misunderstood his point.