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What are we missing? What aspects of religion could atheists beneficially adopt? Alain de Botton suggests -- call it Atheism 2.0 -- incorporating some religious forms and traditions to satisfy our human need for connection, ritual and transcendence.

Allamanda 8 Apr 19

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I don't see those as being necessary.


Religion offers nothing that we can't find outside of it. Faith in ourselves, worship of our community or environment if that's what you need, social support in our community. Perhaps if our general community was more supportive, encouraging and mutually protective we wouldn't need to imagine a god to provide it. That imaginary thing could not then be coopted to meet the purposes of predatory people or organisations

@seenoevil9620 I like your optimism. In the history of this planrt we are just a flash in the pan and I truly doubt that we will survive that much longer.

@Allamanda When I've asked some otherwise intelligent believers why they follow tbat bullshit, some of then have said that they just want something to believe in, something which provides guidance and community, so I think we need to start there. I suspect that is what the pastafarians are trying to do, as well as the church of satan (which in aussie is a free thinkers organisation). Personally I'm fine but I have met many who were very uncomfortable without rules and guidelines.

@Allamanda I also think that ritual is extraordinarily useful because of our need for symbols. We use use ritual to emotionally manage all of life's major transitions so I think that is an important part of what religion provides to those who believe.


I get offended by people who think atheists aren't good people. I don't think you need religion, rituals or anything else to teach compassion, empathy and the differences between right and wrong.
Maybe psychopaths need the structure of religion and ritual to learn right from wrong as they don't feel compassion and empathy.


As an atheist since age 13, I'm not missing a damn thing.

I chose rational thinking, not magical beliefs.


Don't be so rude.

It is against community guidelines to insult members.


"This isn't about it in any way" is insulting as is, "Don't just cut and paste your little thing, please, I can recite it word perfect."

There is no reason to sneer and disparage me like that.


I was wiccan for a few years after leaving Christianity, I think my favorate thing was learning all the facinating mythology. Loved it, still do.


Though I got fatigue before I could skim through all the comments on just the first page, it's blaringly obvious to me that the touchiness of the subject requires a different framing of the question: 1) Find a more inclusive label than "Atheist" 2) "Incorporating some religious forms and traditions" is understandably a trigger for many. Same with "ritual". Focus instead on the aspects of connection & community. 3) And the word "transcendence" I think is problematic for many, conjuring ideas of "nebulous woo nonsense". But I am in favor of finding ways to acknowledge/celebrate those things in life (such as awe, wonder, mystery, love, compassion, art) which takes life out the dry and literal.

@Allamanda eye-opening


Yoga, Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies have rituals and no god. And, like Agnostics, Buddhists don't ask questions they couldn't possibly answer.


You wanted ritual congregations, I pointed you to an entire treasure trove and you call it a non-answer....uh, ok.

Well a lot of the answers I am reading seemed to have understood your post exactly as I have. So maybe you're just not as intellectual as you like to believe and are simply looking for conversation to structure the smoke screen of perception in order to have that nice security blanket you can use to convince yourself you actually posses that which you do not..


Good book. But I'm missing going to the pub...


There are some good ethics in the Bible, if we can overlook the mythology. The Sermon on the Mount is a good example. Perhaps the best ethical advice is to "Love your neighbor as yourself."

@Allamanda Sorry. I missed the link on my first reading. I started watching the video just now, but it stopped at 11:37 from the end. I started it again, and it stopped at the same place. 🙄


I saw this video just a few days after declaring myself an atheist, so I very much liked it. I was liking everything atheism related at that point. I was on a high from my newfound freedom. Thinking back on it now, I still think he has a point when it comes to art. These days, so much of so-called art is literally garbage. Religion has produced great art. However, it's not as if it ever had an exclusive hold on meaningful art, so we can certainly have greatness there again.


My sense is that little more planning is needed than a weekly meeting. All the pomp and circumstance of various institutions I feel mostly reinforces the bureaucracy ( omg! Even with spellcheck I couldn’t spell that😀)instead of having any beneficial effect on the practitioners. I have little to no respect for tradition or ritual. It seems to me they end up being practiced for their own sake.

A story I heard once involved a little girl asking her mother why she chopped off the end of the Christmas ham. “It’s how my mother did it” came through reply. The little girl walked into the living room and asked grandma why she did it. “Well that’s how my mother taught me to do it “ came the reply. Latter in the day while visiting great grandma in the nursing home the three generations of daughters asked her “how come we cut off the end of the Christmas ham”? After looking really confused great grandma’s expression changed to amusement. She said “ oh dearies, when I was young we couldn’t afford much and the only pan I had was kinda small so I chopped off the end of the ham so it would fit”
That’s my view on ritual and tradition. It’s true meaning is usually lost to time and often there’s no real reason left to follow it.

@Allamanda I think you missed the point. The "tradition" she mentioned was created out of necessity ... and then passed on generation to generation WITHOUT the explanation as to WHY. The "tradition" would not have passed, if they knew WHY.

Most of the time that is what happens. Something done over and over again FOR A REASON, and then the reason is forgotten, and the action continues because of "tradition", whether it is reasonable or necessary.

Any routine you can create can become a tradition. Why don't you make a tradition of having lunch on Sundays in the park?

@Allamanda That is EXACTLY the point. Many religious rituals begin as something they do out of necessity, and then continue even though they don't know the reason for it generations later.

Look at all the sacrificial rituals in the bible. Those were created because "blemished" animals were probably diseased, and a lot of those sacrifices were food sources for the priests (since most sacrifices was done in the temple, to be 'close to god' ) . They didn't want to be fed bad meat, so they put caveats on the rituals in place to keep the supply untainted. They didn't burn the meat, they burned the entrails, or the stuff you normally don't eat anyway.

Honestly, I don't think many educated folks want to have 'rituals' - religious or otherwise. Rituals are for followers, not for leaders.

@Allamanda No, this talk has nothing to do with influence. It has to do with how we view the value of the individual in today's society.

@Allamanda knowing why humans create ritual is not in my wheelhouse. They certainly on the surface seem to be part of us. Are they though? How given over to ritual are the peoples of the world who are still living a hunter gatherer lifestyle? I don’t have an answer but I’m wondering if humans created the ritual aspect of their lives or if it’s a symptom of bureaucracy. I’m also wondering if it is useful for anything other than tool for those in power to stay in power by subtle brainwashing?

After reading more of your comments here I think I better understand what you’re looking at. A way (tool) to bend the zeitgeist more towards rational thought. A noble goal but it seems not so noble a means. Are you kinda wanting to use the ways of the “enemy” to whisper in the ears of the masses? I know I’m making it sound much more sinister than I think you mean it but I can’t help feeling that way. You’re like Boromir wanting to use the ring for good 😀

@AtheistInNC you pretty much understand exactly my feelings about ritual and or traditions. I didn’t mention it yet but beyond the original meanings being lost, they can prolly be twisted to serve the needs of whoever is administering them. Plus on a personal level I absolutely despise repetition. Been there, done that? Then move the hell on to something else says I. 😀

@Allamanda you’re prolly right. In my experiences I have not realized any beneficial aspect to rituals. I see other people engaging and judge the ritual to be negative or neutral. I went to learn about Confucianism and became totally disinterested when I found it to be largely about ritual and how that connects us to each other (and the woo). Maybe I should give it another look, he might have something to say about why it’s important to humans. Have you read much about the guy?

As for repetition, after reading your words I will say that repetition must be the true opiate of the masses.

All this being true I’ll have to stand by my original thought. All that is needed is a weekly meeting. The humans involved will create their own rituals that are organically human and those can be passed to the masses. I feel that such things coming from the deep psych of the human mind will ultimately be more effective than something that comes from an academic effort. I’d like to see it happen.


Jesus sandals. Those high heels are definitely killers.


It isn't an unreasonable question. Religion or religious experience has been an important component in human cultures going back as far back as we can peer and seemingly everywhere. Perhaps there is something about all that which could help us understand ourselves better? Maybe.

Personally I wouldn't emphasize the ritual/community aspect so much. I tend to see all established churches as being too rigid and instilling a follower-mentality on its membership. But transcendence means something quite apart from the supernatural or afterlife woo. I do think our society puts too much emphasis on living rationally. I find artistic pursuits to be transcending in a way, and when I was younger various physical pursuits had that effect. But just reading literature or poetry can also be transporting.

I couldn't get the video to play this time but I'm pretty sure have watched it before. (I do like me some TED talks.)


I agree with the Aussies. Atheists that need social connections can find them in ways other than an atheist organization. I also think that as we integrate into the human community and demonstrate our peace and happiness, we can become a beacon for reason to the rest of the world. I do need to emphasize though that judging and debating other people's religious choices will not make that happen.

@Allamanda Powder


Guided meditation on mindfulness, group discussions about beneficial life experiences and cognitive behavior changes for personal growth.

@Allamanda community organizations promoting critical thinking skills and logical discourse, empowerment of disadvantaged and disenfranchised, destigmatization of mental health and substance abuse conditions, and collective improvements to the community. It needs to start with people helping other people to help themselves.


Y’all will need a pope and some cathedrals I suppose. Some sort of power hierarchy, priests and all that.

You’ll want some way to keep out apostates such as agnostics and spiritual types—some sort of iron-clad oath to adhere to your creed. God forbid that one of the members should start wondering about the ground of all being or thinking metaphysical thoughts about ultimate reality beyond the sense realm.


Join a theatre group, sports club, or anything where you will meet people with similar likes.




Giving people blood and flesh to eat seems to be popular with lots of folks, keep that for sure. Molesting children is another one that will pull in the masses if it is kept. Has been popular for a thousand years if not more.

@Allamanda Humor my dear, sick - yes, but humor.

@Allamanda I do not do cheap shots, I only do full priced ones.


What are we missing? For myself, nothing. I get plenty of human connection through the ever changing rituals I go through with family and friends - enough to transcend my need for static rituals.

1of5 Level 8 Apr 19, 2020


You have 0 fans and 0 followers. In contrast, I have 2,147 fans and 187 followers. What does that tell you? People like my comments and posts.

To save time, I have honed my answers to repeated questions to the fewest, most potent words.

@Allamanda I'm not going to pretend to know what or if society's missing something, I'm only speaking for myself who typically doesn't like most the things that others do.

My own rituals hold significance for me and presumably the others I do them with. It's enough for me, dunno about them though.

I haven't been happy with how things are going since Reagan won.

"You have 0 fans and 0 followers. In contrast, I have 2,147 fans and 187 followers. What does that tell you? People like my comments and posts."

@LiterateHiker Only you can see your fans (likes) in your profile. It's noted as a hidden link. All others see zero. You don't see who Allamanda's following or who's following her because she has chosen the option to keep that private, as many members here have done.

Allamanda is one of the most respected and articulate members here.


I stand corrected. But she was repeatedly rude and insulting to me.


There is a need for people to get together and perform ceremonies of some type. I cannot think of a society where this does not happen.


Some people miss much because of their aversion to organized religions, while others reject everything associated with organized religions. I have accepted that many of the principles which religions promote are useful and functional to living a satisfying life.

But many religious leaders are hypocritically ignoring and often breaking their own written commandments. So i learned years ago to not 'throw the baby out with the bath water' when i evaluated anything in life. It's about finding the value in anything, even if i have to tweak my view of it to see what is with clear lenses.

Honesty, civility, humanity, truth, and respect are just 5 of the metaphorically articulated values described in most bibles i have read. If humans generally lived by these rules, the world would be a very different and probably a more welcoming place.

I have proven to myself, and others, that many of organized religion's principles can affect our lives in positive ways, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I've never connected such values to religion, but i can't honesty claim that i invented the values i live by. LOL

In the context of the Universe, we're a very young and barely evolved race but if we don't learn, we'll probably go the way of other species which have become extinct when they couldn't evolve. This coronavirus pandemic is just such an opportunity for change and growth.

And one day historians, human or alien, will evaluate how we did. LOL

@Allamanda Yes i did. Like most TED talks, the views expressed may not completely reflect my own, but i never throw the baby out with the bath water, as i pointed out. LOL


De Botton is a marvelous guy and a great thinker, his School of Life is a valuable resource. He seeks a better, softer way for human beings to act towards one another.

I think we can probably all do with some of the social structure and support churches offered, if only in theory in some cases. It is good to get together with like-minded people. Having said that, most of us have a really bad reaction to anything related to a church, or quasi-church. The fact that people are here, bickering endlessly about who is right, agnostics or atheists, as if we're opposing political parties, tells me nothing will ever come of De Botton's ideas.


You can start by dropping the Atheism and backing up so as to include everyone with our shared sentiments, no matter what they may or may not call themselves. Atheists can still be atheists. However, they are just one segment of the cohort, not THE cohort.

We will forever be looking forward at the gains of the religious (and increasingly fascist) right if we don't get this sorted.

Apart from this, our theism replacement has to be about more than just answering a question a certain way. Though this is obviously adequate for some people, there is far more to it for others.

What is religion good at doing? What is religion to people aside from the apparent?

This is an interesting dilemma since non-believers are a hugely diverse group. What we would all call an ideal replacement to theism likely means something very different depending on where you live, what your ethnic background is, etc. Rather than a roadblock, however, this is an excellent place to start.

Churches are good at being there for their local community. Both for worship, and many other areas.

When it comes to the secular community, I too, have struggled to see exactly what my part was in it. Even before I developed such strong critiques against the atheist community, I struggled to see my place in it. Aside from a ragtag group of millions of like-minded independents scattered around the internet, there were the prominents. Those ranging from the academics famous debaters to the Youtubers. And all they seemed to do was interview each other, debate hideously dumb theists, or fly to conventions in cities far far away.

And then there is the other baggage. The unfortunate exposures one has to deal with when the typical American patriarchal mindset intersects with yet another power structure. Notice that I am not naming names (nor should any of you!). Just making an observation.

All in all, I can fully understand why non-belief (or Atheism) can mean so little to people. Because even our most prominent faces to the world come across as elitist. A fun social ride for those of enough means, but little more than spectacle for the rest of us in the real world.

I don't know what replacing religion looks like for the rest of the non-believers in my city, but i'm sure we could come to a consensus if we were to put our minds to it. Just as I don't know what it means for anyone else , anywhere else. But they could likely also come to some sort of agreement.

How can thousands (or tens of thousands) of little independent groups all consolidate their power into 1 strong entity?

Again, I don't know exactly what this looks like. Or how many such lobbying entities they may end up in creating. However, what I do know is such power alignment would be a force to be reckoned with in any democratic nation.

If the theists can do it, so can we.


"What aspects of religion could atheists beneficially adopt?"

The ten commandments would be good... Rituals and such? Why? They're many ways to connect and bond with others without turning to things found in religion.. Seems like a trap! Foot in the door kinda thing 😊😜

Not all ten. The first is definitely out. Others likely as well

@vertrauen what is the first one?

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