Since the blog seems to be back and running again, I’d like to resurrect an old favorite of mind, The TED talk of the week. Past favorites include:

Today’s TED talk comes from philosopher Alain de Botton. In his talk, Alain argues that there is need for a “new” atheism that appropriates what he feels are the attractive aspects of religion, be it religion’s focus on moral education, repetition of teaching, seasonal synchronization of group members, appreciation of the mind AND body, or the many values of art.

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One of my favorite parts of the talk is at the 5:30 mark.

“Now we’ve given up with the idea of sermons. If you said to a modern liberal individualist, “Hey, how about a sermon?” they’d go, “No, no. I don’t need one of those. I’m an independent, individual person.”What’s the difference between a sermon and our modern, secular mode of delivery, the lecture? Well a sermon wants to change your life and a lecture wants to give you a bit of information. And I think we need to get back to that sermon tradition. The tradition of sermonizing is hugely valuable, because we are in need of guidance, morality and consolation — and religions know that.”

Stay until the end. The first question is key. It made me think of this song and the words of Augustine. We all long for a connection to something greater. Alain is saying that clearly the doctrine associated with religions is false, but the many other things that religions provide are good. Very good.

His talk highlights the problem of starting with theology when speaking as a religious believer. No doubt there are some who come to faith through the intellectualization of a religion’s beliefs. But I think the vast majority enter the door via the other aspects of religion that Alain desires to appropriate in his Atheism 2.0.

The science and religion dialogue will highly benefit from the “new” atheism Alain is promoting. Here’s hoping religious believers return the favor.

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