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Religion for Atheists

A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion
Narrated by: Kris Dyer
Length: 5 hrs and 2 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers is finally moved on by Alain de Botton's inspiring new book, which boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are of course entirely false - and yet that religions still have important things to teach the secular world. Rather than mocking religions, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from them - because they're packed with good ideas on how we live and arrange our societies.

Blending deep respect with total impiety, de Botton (a non-believer) proposes that we should look to religions for insights into how to build a sense of community, make our relationships last, get more out of art, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, and much more.

For too long, non-believers have faced a stark choice between either swallowing peculiar doctrines or doing away with consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas. At last Alain de Botton has fashioned a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative.

©2012 Alain de Botton (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What listeners say about Religion for Atheists

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Though provoking and Insightful

The author positions spirituality as a fundamental human need, and something that is often overlooked in secular society.

I liked that this book provides not only the why we posses our yearning for meaning, but also the how to of going about finding enrichment in ways that don't rely on belief in the supernatural. It's an insight into human behaviour and fun to realise how we're wired and how society has been built up around our condition!

1 person found this helpful

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A needed take on atheism

This is a wonderful book. De Botton's language feels at times like he has deliberately written with the aid of a thesauras but is nonetheless clear and both entertaining and insightful. I'd give it 5 stars but for a view that is sometimes a little too much ivory tower for my tastes. It's well worth a listen regardless.

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Superbly written and narrated

Thought provoking and incisive, Alain de Botton has given me a new accompaniment while I try to complete my paintings. It's a re-listen for sure.

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  • Eric
  • 14-04-2012

Narrator < Book

I HEREBY DECLARE: This book is a "Must Read" for any atheist, particularly those who have read anything by Dawkins.

After dispensing with the "is God real or not" argument in the first paragraph of the book, de Botton spends the rest of the book explaining why so many religious rituals are valuable ANYWAY.

Existence of a deity notwithstanding, I have a new respect for religion and religious rituals. There are lots of aspects that I now have a much clearer understanding of, and I understand that I was unfairly denigrating the practices of religious people, because I didn't understand the reason those practices were created. I'm still a committed atheist, of course -- but now I'm a smarter atheist. And that's what atheism is all about, right?

Although I can't praise this book highly enough, I wish I could have reached through my headphones and slapped the narrator. I managed to make it all the way through the book, but it wasn't great. Two stars because the sound quality & production was superb, but that's all.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anne
  • 20-03-2012

attention atheiests

Would you listen to Religion for Atheists again? Why?

Yes I would. It is easy to follow de Botton's arguments but he says quite a lot and I will probably listen again

Who was your favorite character and why?

There was no main character

What about Kris Dyer’s performance did you like?

Yes he sounded a lot like de Botton himself

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

no

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-02-2015

Didn't hold my attention

I was looking forward to this book but, while listening , I found myself wandering.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam
  • 10-04-2013

A big idea that isn't quit big enough

Many people say they believe in some sort of higher being or essence but reject organised religion. Alain de Botton flips this on its head, arguing that religious rituals are important in helping us to be live better lives but insisting that God is a fiction.



Secularism, he says, has shorn us of ways to reflect on our places in the universe. His example of marriage is a good one: when a couple wed their friends and family are there, investing in their relationship. Once the ceremony is done, the couple are left to their own devices, with little of what social workers would call "support networks", much less other formal occasions during which to nourish the bonds. Secular liberalism is good at telling us what we free to do, but falls short in offering guidance about what we ought to do.



But there are problems. Liberalism has shied away from this didacticism in part because the prescriptions of the religious proved to be wrong in many cases, preventing us from doing what we should (such as show equal respect for gay people) and encouraging us to do things we shouldn't (like persecute non-believers). AdB does not adequately square how such traps are to be avoided if and when we return to such direct moral instruction as he suggests. At times, he also appears to offer conclusions on the secular life based on hunches. He suggests, for example, that people forget the lessons of great works of secular art, while the date-bound ritual of the religious equivalent is sooner remembered because one is required to revisit it. He may be right, but where is the evidence?



The argument is also weakened by some of de Botton's remedies. He wants to do away with the study of history because he contends that that the discipline merely teaches bald facts and shies away from attempting to connect the past with deeper meanings.



This is where his manifesto falls down. For while the idea that we need ritual in our lives is bold, it is too small to change society as he demands.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jordan
  • 13-04-2013

A easy read survey

This book had an interesting idea but never got into it in any depth. The author, having set out the central hypothesis, that the ritual and certainty of religion can be helpful for our well-being and mental health, then spends the rest of the text rhyming off a disjointed list of possible examples.



A fascinating concept but not one it takes a whole book just to outline and summarise.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Milan Perera
  • 03-08-2020

Great Handbook.

Great Handbook for the mankind who lives in the Age of Secularism on how to salvage the kernel of religion amidst the endless jargon and bigotry. To dismiss religion on the grounds of lack of coherence is an immesurable loss to humanity as religion is a vehicle for instilling equanimity, compassion, non-violence and creativity. de Botton skillfully captures those elements regarding religion and shows how it can transform even the most mundane activities into sacred rituals including digestion!. Four stars only due to the narration which lacks depth and empathy. The pronunciation of non-Anglo terms gives you a snigger for sure. The content is 5 Stars. Highly recommended.

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  • Late starter.
  • 16-02-2020

A book ideally suited to Audible

Well, the narration is clear but relaxed in tone making listening a pleasant experience.
The book itself breaks the subject down into manageable sections each with a valid role in supporting the main argument. Unlike many Audible books there is little or no repetition which in print can be skipped but is difficult to do when listening. The author draws on some fascinating facts to support his argument therefore one can say with confidence that this book offers unexpected treasures for everyone.

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  • @ahcperrin
  • 20-08-2018

Great book that gives a sense to religions

As an atheist, I always thought that if you remove the supernatural from religions, they are a great way to build communities and mental wellness. This book confirms some of my beliefs, bring some great ideas and exposes a lot of secularism caveats which give some reasons why so many people are unhappy.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Colin Finlay
  • 28-03-2018

Boring , repetitive simply not worth the time

It takes 7 hours for something that needs 20 mins.. Hitchens and Dawkins much better bets!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • M
  • 27-10-2012

Heavenly

This is a beautiful little book wonderfully narrated by Kris Dyer. The author is challenging our liberal, secular, capitalist society to put our human needs back to the forefront, and to do this by taking the best of what religion has to offer. As an atheist he immediately renounces the need for a supernatural deity to guide our search for happiness but instead describes how the institutions and rituals of religion can show us how to interact with our fellow flawed human beings. Introducing ourselves to strangers, atoning for our misdemeanors and dealing with life's ups and downs are all abilities we have lost in our modern urban world, and religion gave us techniques to deal with. (I particularly enjoyed his idea of challenging how we have put the written word on a pedestal - and the lone intellect - whilst removing the need for emotive and concise public rhetoric so that ideas can be put into the reach of all people.) So overall an interesting and thought-provoking read with a mixture of the scholarly and personable.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 20-03-2012

An interesting set of ideas

A good set of ideas which were well presented. Aside from the fact the reader sounds almost as self righteous and smug as Richard Dawkins, this book had some interesting things to say and made a whole load of logical sense. I refuse to be an atheist or humanist because the way they vilify religion is almost worse than religion itself. Maybe this book has the answer?

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jean
  • 04-04-2017

thought provoking

Addresses a growing problem of if we reject religion how do we prevent our society from turning in to society that only worships money and materials instead of community and personal growth or expansion.