[Richard] Holloway’s powerful account [in His book Leaving Alexandria] mirrors the progressive loss of belief which we see across Britain and Europe today, and it comes hard on the heels of Alain de Botton’s latest book Religion for Atheists, which advertises itself with the question “Even if religion isn’t true, can’t we enjoy the best bits?” It assumes that the supernatural claims of religion are false, but suggests that we hang on to the communal ritual and cultural elements. Holloway makes a similar plea when he says “I don’t any longer believe in religion but I want it around, less sure of itself and purged of everything except the miracle of pity”.
These books leave me with the question: Does this work? Can you have the gilt without the gingerbread? Isn’t there something fundamentally dishonest about those wistful atheists who have taken leave of God and who yet continue to use theological concepts and cling on to religious practices?
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