Alain De Botton Plans Temples For Atheists

January 27, 2012 by staff 

Alain De Botton Plans Temples For Atheists, PLANS to build a £1 million ($1.47 million) ”temple for atheists” among the international banks and medieval church spires of London have sparked a clash between two of Britain’s most prominent non-believers.

The philosopher and writer Alain de Botton is proposing to build a 46-metre tower to celebrate a ”new atheism” as an antidote to what he describes as Richard Dawkins’s ”aggressive” and ”destructive” approach to non-belief.

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

”Normally a temple is to Jesus, Mary or Buddha but you can build a temple to anything that’s positive and good,” he said. ”That could mean a temple to love, friendship, calm or perspective … Because of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, atheism has become known as a destructive force.”

Professor Dawkins criticised the project, indicating the money was being misspent and that a temple of atheism was a contradiction in terms.

”Atheists don’t need temples,” the author of The God Delusion said. ”I think there are better things to spend this kind of money on. If you are going to spend money on atheism you could improve secular education and build non-religious schools which teach rational, sceptical critical thinking.”

The spat came as Mr de Botton revealed details of the temple. Each centimetre of the tapering tower’s interior has been designed to represent 1 million of the 300 million years of life on Earth and a narrow band of gold will illustrate the relatively tiny amount of time humans have walked the planet. The exterior would be inscribed with a binary code denoting the human genome sequence.

The philosopher said he had raised almost half the money for the project from a group of property developers who wanted to remain anonymous. He hoped to get the rest of the money from a public appeal and construction could start by the end of 2013 if permission was granted by the Corporation of London.

Mr de Botton said he chose the country’s financial centre because he believed it was where people had most seriously lost perspective on life’s priorities.

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