An atheist’s translation of a Christian parable – so to speak



The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son and sent his PR people to call those who were invited , but they would not come.  Then he said to them:  ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found: atheists, agnostics, doubters, the disillusioned ones and the “don’t bother me no more”, bad and good. 

Alain de Botton in The Times, Monday January 30 2012 in an introductory text to his new book “Religion for Atheists”:

The error of modern atheism has been to overlook how many sides of the faiths remain relevant even after their central tenets have been dismissed.

The wisdom of the faiths belongs to all of mankind and deserves to be selectively reabsorbed by the supernatural’s greatest enemies.

At their best moments, they [the religions] confront us with the Other, and help to show that there is humanity in all of us.

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6 Responses to An atheist’s translation of a Christian parable – so to speak

  1. alteritas says:

    The key word there is “selectively”.
    But when it comes to religions (especially the abrahamic ones) you don’t get to pick what you like and discard what you don’t. They all request a sort of “all or nothing” acceptance of their beliefs. A classic example is Lewis’s trilemma. You are not allowed to take Jesus as a great moral teacher without accepting his divinity.
    When you start being selective, you become a heretic at best, or more likely an apostate. So, careful down that path. 🙂

    Do we need religion(s) to be confronted with the Other and discover our humanity? I don’t think so. After all, thats the essence of the secular humanism.

    • sam says:

      Exactly. You came up with the same “concern” as the author did. I haven’t included all the details but the idea of the risk of upsetting both sides, religious and hardcore atheistic, is there. From this point of view he is aware of the danger of being on the other side of “wrong” by rejecting indiscriminately everything that religion has ever produced.
      I was amused by your warning. I merely extracted from his text what seemed to be most interesting for me. The author himself is an atheist born and raised in a family of Jewish atheists so no surprise there.

  2. alteritas says:

    The “warning” should be taken with a grain of salt. 🙂

  3. That Guy says:

    I just saw Botton’s Ted video (Atheism 2.0).

    I am still digesting his words, but I found him very compelling.

    • sam says:

      If this is the way to go for the atheist community (is there a kind of organized gathering of atheist people already?) then the most hardcore Christians should be wary about it.
      I do not see much of a danger in the spreading of his ideas of “taking” what’s good from religion for the benefit of the non-believers. If you are to believe the spirit of God’s work in the world that is everything that’s good comes from Him and cannot be lessen by nothing. Sharing, in His world, is multiplying.

  4. Pingback: Jesus was a Jew – what’s new about it? | According to Sam

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