Alain de Botton is a non-believer. Yet he argues religions have important things to teach the secular world. He's written a book (Religion for Atheists) explaining ways in which atheists should look to religion for some solutions to contemporary ills. In doing so, he hopes to move the tired old debate between atheists and believers onto more fruitful ground.
Blending deep respect with total impiety, de Botton proposes that agnostics and atheists should stop mocking religions and start stealing from them. For too long, he believes, we have faced a false choice between either swallowing doctrines or doing away with consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas.
In this secular sermon de Botton presents his vision for a far more interesting alternative where we look to religions for helpful insights into how to build a sense of community, make our relationships last, get more out of art, and overcome envy and inadequacy.
Alain de Botton is a co-founder of The School of Life. He is a philosopher and author of non-fiction essays on themes ranging from love and travel to architecture and philosophy. His bestselling books include How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel and The Architecture of Happiness.
This secular sermon took place at Conway Hall on Sunday 22 January 2012.