Alain de Botton has recently suggested a new kind of religion for atheists – one which takes all the best bits of religion such as community, generosity, creativity but leaves behind all the less desirable parts such as the rules and the actual beliefs. Ed West in today’s telegraph commented how this would always end up like an alcohol free lager – missing something crucial and something that doesn’t do much for anybody.
An interesting article – his last paragraph was this:
The real problem is that religion is always replaced by something else. The rise of fads such as homoeopathy is well documented, but more commonly people’s religious desires for certainty, morality and community are transferred to their politics; that is why there is this sense that those outside the communion of correct beliefs today are morally unclean, and new sins such as “racist” and “sexist” replace “heretic” and “sinner”. That is the real “religion for atheists”.
This struck a chord with something that we were discussing on Jon Marlow’s blog, about whether postmodernism was giving way to something else – a sense of ‘correct belief’ where everything outside of the prevailing view is not tolerated, shouted down or responded to with the refrain “You can’t say that!”. We called this ‘neo-conformity’. Interesting that this trend has been spotted by others and I wonder if it is really leading onto a change in era.