Just in case you didn’t see this from the Wall Street Journal this weekend, Gertrude Himmelfarb, always worth reading, reviews a new book on a newly proposed “religious atheism,” “Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion.” The author,
Alain de Botton does not attempt to refute religion; he simply stipulates that it is not true. It is, however, “sporadically useful, interesting, and consoling” and can, therefore, be enlisted in the service of atheists. For people trying to cope with the pains and difficulties of life, religions (not religion in the abstract but institutional religions) are “repositories” of goods that can assuage their ills. By appropriating those goods—”music, buildings, prayers, rituals, feasts” and the like—and introducing them into secular society, Mr. de Botton proposes to rescue that which is “beautiful, touching and wise” from religions that are no longer true and put it to use by an atheism that is indubitably true but sadly deficient in such consolations.
Talk about empty ritual! God hates empty ritual without faith, just going through the motions because they feel good. But, of course, if you are an atheist you can’t think that way; no harm, no foul. Do what you like, if you like it, if it feels good. But we’ve been hearing that philosophy since at least ‘the sixties.’ Neo-atheism–is that the new American religion? Perhaps that’s why the Democrats really did not vote to even mention God in their platform. He’s gone, they think. Abortion 24/7 365 days a year makes a clear statement: our life is our own, not a gift. The Declaration of Independence is passé on this point, and we’ve Declared Independence from the Creator. Let’s see how that turns out, O ye of little faith. The only “morality” to be imposed will come from the secular elites. American atheism is government policy. Not neutrality on religious sectarian questions, but atheism.