Listening to this episode, I found I could agree with a number of Alain De Botton’s beliefs. I completely agree with his point that atheists, too often, feel as if the world is getting closer and closer to being perfect. I also appreciated his belief that religion can’t be just considered a source of pain and suffering. I appreciate the fact that Botton doesn’t take extreme views, as many atheists that I know do.
However, I generally disagreed with what he said. I felt that his use of religious songs was insulting. People have already tried to make Christmas and Easter more secular holidays; we don’t need people doing the same thing to religious songs. If they want to make their own songs and sing them that is fine, but don’t take religious songs and change the purpose of them.
I also don’t agree with his point that people who don’t believe in God can be “moral”. I can’t help but wonder, what exactly is his moral standard based upon? The existence of a God means the existence of absolute truth, and therefore absolute morality. Without the existence of God there is no absolute truth. So on what basis could Botton call himself moral? I’m aware of the common statement made by some atheists: “Isn’t pathetic that your morality is based on what “God” says, and you can’t do what is morally right on your own.” As opposed to basing your morality on how you feel? Is morality based on our internal “conscience” really better? Botton can believe that there is no God if he so chooses but he must also accept the realities of such a belief. If there is no God, there is no absolutely true morality, and without actions that are right or wrong, life is meaningless as well. He can try to build up walls of morality based on his relative “truth” but if such walls can be torn down when convenient, then they are ultimately worthless.
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