Nuggets of Wisdom

Friday, January 27, 2012

Atheist Temples?

It’s hard to claim that atheism isn’t a religion (and technically it’s not) when there are atheist holiday displays, atheist “de-baptism” ceremonies, atheist summer camps, atheist chaplains, and soon—atheist temples.

I kid you not: a British atheist plans on constructing an "Atheist Temple." (And no, this article is not from The Onion):
Philosopher and author Alain de Botton has called for a series of "temples for atheists" to be built around Britain, allowing the non-religious to have impressive buildings to call their own.

De Botton's most recent book, Religion for Atheists, calls for unbelievers to copy the major religions and build grand architectural masterpieces to inspire a sense of perspective in people. He argues that a temple doesn't need to be dedicated to a religion: "You can build a temple to anything that's positive and good. That could mean: a temple to love, friendship, calm or perspective".

He added: "Why should religious people have the most beautiful buildings in the land? It's time atheists had their own versions of the great churches and cathedrals. A beautiful building is an indispensable part of getting your message across. Books alone won't do it."

Putting his money where his mouth is, De Botton has begun work on just such a temple. The first has been designed by Tom Greenall Architects, and is a concept for a 46-metre-tall black tower, sat in the City of London. The height is symbolic of the 4.6 billion-year age of the Earth, and right at the bottom will be a millimetre-thick band of gold that represents humanity's brief existence within that life.

"Even the most convinced atheists tend to speak nicely about religious buildings," said De Botton. "They may even feel sad that nothing like them gets built nowadays. But there's no need to feel nostalgic. Why not just learn from religions and build similarly beautiful and interesting things right now?"
If atheism isn’t a religion, why does it need its own building? Atheists already complain that churches and other houses of worship are wastes of space and resources, so wouldn’t an atheist house of worship be an even bigger waste? After all, those places cold have been used to build schools or hospitals or anything else more beneficial to society. Instead, it’s being used as a monument for non-belief—in other words, nothing!

Which raises an interesting question: just what would an atheistic “worship” service look like? Probably like the Church of Atheism from Metalocalypse: “Oh God, whom we do not believe in, let us all not pray for you who does not exist.” (And then the agnostics start picketing!):