Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

Why Atheists Need A Temple

Even if religion isn't true, asserted writer and philosopher Alain de Botton, why can't we enjoy the best bits? To that end (and to circumvent the "boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers" about religion and God), de Botton proposed in his new book "Religion for Atheists" that what atheism needs are ... temples!

As religions have always known, a beautiful building is an indispensable part of getting your message across. Books alone won’t do it.

De Botton argues that you definitely don’t need a god or gods to justify a temple.

You can build a temple to anything that’s positive and good. That could mean: a temple to love, friendship, perspective, calm, generosity…

This proposal is part of a wider argument de Botton makes that atheists should stop being merely negative about religion and engage with what people actually enjoy about religion. They should then copy it – simply without the God-bit.

With architect Tom Greenall and artist Jordan Jon Hodgson, de Botton proposed a Temple to Perspective, a 150-foot (46 m) tall black tower in the heart of the City of London. Each centimeter of the tower's height equates to one million years of life. At the bottom, there's a single line of gold - no more than a millimeter thick - that represents the entire existence of humankind.


It's an elegant design and I think it does what it's intended to do, but... I'm not sure why someone would want to spend time in such a temple. The sense of perspective the structure brings along with the underlying atheism seems depressing to me. Presumably. given the orientation of the gold band at the bottom of the tower, one is to look up to contemplate the past and down to contemplate the future, where one sees only the floor - a slab, underneath which is what? darkness? nothing?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
  3 replies
This country has "temples" built to honor all sorts of non-religious ideals: Knowledge (Library), Patriotism (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), Justice (Courthouse). That some of these are practical is an added benefit.

For me, a temple exalting the virtues of nonspecific love (or any other emotion) is a bit stupid.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 15 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"Why Atheists Need A Temple"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More