Saturday, January 28, 2012

A temple to what?

I am an atheist. I'm also always a little unsure how to spell the word, but there's no squiggly underline, so I think I'm good. Anyway, my point is I don't believe in a god or supreme being or that the world was created in seven days. I look around me and I see what goes on in the name of religion and I don't agree with all that. I don't believe that what counts as religion on this planet today was dictated by some deity, it all smacks a little too much of man's fallibility to me. But, and here's a pretty big but, that's what I think and if you think differently, if you believe, than that's OK. Because in the end we live on a pretty big planet and there's room for what I believe and there's room for what you believe. If (this is another biggie) we can live peacefully and harmoniously, then in the end we don't think too differently, do we?


And then there's Alain de Botton. I've read a couple of his books. Both of which I enjoyed, although there was probably some pages in On Love where I wanted to slap him. He's not a philosopher who leaves me scratching my head and feeling stupid, but does encourage thought. And so I suppose in one sense this whole nonsensical idea of a Temple of Atheism has encouraged thought and a decision making process. I don't agree with it. 


Rather than attack religion, De Botton said he wants to borrow the idea of awe-inspiring buildings that give people a better sense of perspective on life.

Personally, I find the Guggenheim in Bilboa, kind of awe-inspiring and because I like art the inside, it gives me a better sense of perspective on life too. 


And the tallest suspension bridge over the Tarn Valley in France, I think that would do it to. In fact going over the Severn Bridge on the back of a motorcycle on a windy day pretty much did it for me too. 
[Richard] Dawkins criticised the project on Thursday, indicating the money was being misspent
Given the amount of debt we're all in at the moment, £1m probably isn't going to solve a great deal, but I do agree that it's money that could be better spent.  
[Dawkins goes on to say] ... that a temple of atheism was a contradiction in terms.
That was my first thought. 
The idea has echoes of earlier atheist spaces, ranging from churches converted to "temples of reason" during the French revolution to the Conway Hall in London which is run by the humanist South Place Ethical Society.
Ok so these are/were spaces that served some function to the public. It wasn't just a space right? In which case if you want a temple of something why not give your £1m to... libraries. Don't know, it's just an idea, they're underfunded, threatened with closure, encourage free thinking. They may even lead some people to give up on religion, or get better at cooking, who knows? But they do serve a purpose. 
The temple features a single door for visitors who will enter as if it were an art installation.
Because let's face it, that's what it is isn't it? It's a 151 ft tower (snigger snigger) not to atheism, but to the person who managed to raise £1m pounds from anonymous donors and others who want their mere mortality remembered by a great big phallic grave stone in the middle of London, because they can't have a gravestone in a cemetery because they don't believe. PURLEASE. Go and think up some good ideas and leave atheism alone.  


Thanks to @dadwhowrites who alerted me to this silly, silly idea yesterday. Although we usually compare three year old bad behaviour, he also puts up lots of cool news articles on Twitter (which get me thinking) and he blogs here: Dad who writes


Quotes are from this Guardian article: 

Alain de Botton reveals plans for 'temple to atheism' in heart of London


And photos are from Google image search. 

3 comments:

Jackie Jordan said...

Good morning! How are you today?

This post touched on a tender point, and I’ll explain why.

I am torn between theroies of creation, evolution and intelligent design. I believed in God when I was a young man, but lost my faith as time marched on. College taught me that evolution was the true answer to ‘where we came from’. Ironically, I have just read the cult classic novel, “Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers”, written by a Frenchman named Rael. I have never laughed so hard in my entire life, not because I don’t believe that life exists beyond our planet, but because Rael told the most fantastically creative piece of fiction that I have ever read. I just love sci-fi! The hilarious aspect of the extravagant tale was that he claimed it to be the absolute truth – he built a new religion from this concept.

I guess that ‘faith’ is a marketable commodity, and profiteers will capitalize on all of the religions of this world, and other worlds, as well … [smiles]

Jitendra Gupta said...

hi maichele;;
I am an atheist too;;
and I liked your thoughts very much;;

nice thoughts;;
and your blog is awesome;;

Michele Helene said...

Hi Jackie and Jitendra,

thank you for dropping by. Interesting point you raise Jackie, I agree that in the end faith is a marketable commodity. I think originally it was political, and in this day and age it's about the purchasing market.

Hope to see you again.

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