Apparently it’s not enough to be a virtuous atheist.
I don’t understand why Christians seem to think “Hope” is solely a “Christian” Value. Hindus have hope too you know. Muslims have hope too. So do Jews. And Atheists and pretty much everyone who is “human”.
Claiming hope as divine isn’t clever, hope just means you have faith that things can “get better”. You don’t require a god to feel that.
Alain de Botton’s “virtues” are silly. Why limit yourself to just ten? If you don’t have one are you not a good atheist? I know people who have had bone marrow biopsies without anaesthetic (it’s dreadfully painful) and they just gritted their teeth. Am I to expect all patients to do so? I know what I gave up. Most of my peers are out on weekends dancing, drinking and having fun. I am not. The little luxuries my readers have? I do not. I cannot demand that you be like me.
You can suggest things though. You can make your own “goals” in life rather than follow the Ten Commandments or even Alain’s “Ten Virtues”. It doesn’t have to be ten, it doesn’t have to be codified, it isn’t set in stone.
That’s the problem with “virtues”, they aren’t always good. The world isn’t good and bad. The world is not black and white. Often you are stuck making decisions where there is no right or wrong option and where there is no answer that is good. There are sometimes decisions we have to make in life where every choice is bad and we desperately try to chose the least worst one or the one that we can live with.
And what is a good decision today may not be in the future. That’s the thing that befuddles most of our detractors. That we CAN have this kind of morality and that we can grow from our experiences with these situations.
I cannot tell you what you should value, you may value something different to me. And that’s where Alain de Botton fails.
Don’t take what he suggests as virtues. Take them as pointed suggestions.