Episode CCXCV: Sunscreen »« Why I am an atheist – Jesse Stapleton

Oh, please.

I am rolling my eyes so hard right now that it hurts. Alain de Botton proposes building “atheist temples”.

You may take a moment to retch. I hope you have buckets handy.

Done? There’s a spot on your chin, you might want to clean that up.

Anyway, he wants to build a 46 meter tall (because the earth is 4.6 billion years old, get it) black tower in London. Perhaps with a throne at the very top, where he can sit and peer out over his domain.

You know, I think that when you are building a movement, you should get the people first, before building the monumental architecture to awe and contain them. I think his black tower would be awfully echoey and empty when all the acolytes of Atheism 2.0 gather. The only thing he’s got to fill it up right now is ego and hubris.

Comments

  1. ansisruhk says

    Christ on a taco.

    Atheists already have temples. We call them libraries. The only clerics we need are librarians to tell the unruly loud mobs to shut up. Otherwise, I like the format of the services we have now.

    Our public libraries should be large, beautiful buildings, dwarfing the pointless and intellectually stunted cathedrals and churches below.

  2. gmacs says

    We already have a fantastic, beautiful temple in London.

    It’s called the London Natural History Museum.

  3. raven says

    WTF. Why a black temple?

    Wrong symbolism.

    It should be lit up with a rainbow of fluorescent or LED lights.

    Someone should appoint Alain Pope of the atheists with an engraved certificate so he can satisfy his megalomaniac urges and leave the rest of us alone.

  4. says

    This is mindbogglingly stupid. The only thing all atheists are guaranteed to have in common is a lack of belief in a god or gods.

    We don’t need to take a page from religious nonsense and start erecting weird symbolic structures or having any dopey rituals. When you start doing this, you give credence to those people who argue that atheism is a religion.

  5. Sastra says

    Yeah, we can bring burnt offerings to the temple. My mind is too filled with sarcastic suggestions on what those burnt offerings should be to settle down and pick one right now, though.

    I was at the grand opening for the Center for Inquiry in Buffalo, NY a few years ago. Lovely architecture, nicely planned, usefully arranged and containing a nice library. I don’t need some other structure I could just go to and worship in the name of secular humanism.

    Hell, the atheists get to call dibs on the entire natural world — leaving the spiritual realms for the others guys. We’ve got the Universe. That’s impressive enough for me.

  6. says

    Hm, I thought that god pretty much stayed out of the laboratory, even when believers are the scientists.

    But I guess a building empty of knowledge and discovery might symbolize some atheists’ lives all right…

    Glen Davidson

  7. zb24601 says

    he wants to build a 46 meter tall (because the earth is 4.6 billion years old, get it) black tower in London.

    But then we would have to add a meter to the tower every 100 million years. It sounds like too much trouble. Maybe we should just prevent the spread of religion by inoculating children with critical thinking skills. Then as the houses of worship stop being used as such, we can re-purpose them for something useful.

  8. frog says

    Doesn’t he realize that, Saturday morning cartoons notwithstanding, the best form of Evil Lair is a building that looks just like everything else? If we build a temple, the Xtian crazies will know where to catch us having our baby-eating ceremonies!

    People just don’t think things through.

  9. TonyJ says

    As others have already said, we already have natural history museums, libraries, zoos, aquariums, etc. A temple built specifically for atheism is a stupid idea.

  10. Louis says

    Now, I would not like to cast any aspersions at Mr de Botton. However, a large, 46m tall no less, tower…

    …someone, somewhere is compensating for something.

    I’m sure your “tower” is very impressive, Alain. Now stop diddling with my lack of belief in gods, there’s good chap.

    Louis

    P.S. What initially amused me about the current atheism 2.0 of AdB’s is how vastly different it is from PZ’s own ideas about atheism being about more then mere lack of belief. Deep rifts. Deeeep deeep rifts.

  11. anuran says

    How about just putting some Blake on big stone tablets above every library door…

    A Memorable Fancy.

    I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
    In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clearing away the rubbish from a cave’s mouth; within, a number of Dragons were hollowing the cave.
    In the second chamber was a Viper folding round the rock & the cave, and others adorning it with gold silver and precious stones.
    In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of air: he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite, around were numbers of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense cliffs.
    In the fourth chamber were Lions of flaming fire raging around & melting the metals into living fluids.
    In the fifth chamber were Unnam’d forms, which cast the metals into the expanse.
    There they were reciev’d by Men who occupied the sixth chamber, and took the forms of books & were arranged in libraries.

  12. inflection says

    I’d be happy to have a big beautiful building (and maybe lots of attached parkland) filled with art and light, and devoted to being a space for freethinking, inquiry, and gathering to discuss and atheism. A Houston Freethinker Community Center would be delightful.

    I just wouldn’t want it called a temple. And I distrust the impulse to do it merely to copy churches. Churches sadden me for the waste of money. They’re made to impress people; if I want to impress someone with atheism I’ll take them to a library. Or the NYSE. Or the Googleplex. Or Johnson Space Center. Or… etc.

  13. lizdamnit says

    @Ing: humanist centers, ok. I’m thinking more libraries, museums, labs, schools, etc which may well be the same thing. And don’t just build them to give pretty places for pigeons to roost – build and maintain, enrich, nurture. The best “temple” I can think of, atheist or not, would be a kid discovering something awesome about how the world works, and how they fit into it. Oh yeah, tons of tiny temples, running around in dinosaur exhibits :D

    I got carried away with the cuteness of that idea. Actually, the best idea would be all ages together. So what everyone else said about the existing secular/humanist structure. No giant tower needed. Looking at the proposed building, I think I’d be more moved in an actual cathedral. Even with the religious trappings. That Botton tower looks awful.

  14. flex says

    anuran wrote, “But is it unvanquishable save by Sacnoth?”

    According to the Dunsany tale, laughter is what destroyed the secret lamaserai of Thlurana.

    I know it was an obscure reference, but the thought amused me so I shared it.

  15. says

    Non-religious community centers could be very useful. Have lecture series, offer daycare, organize child or adult peer trips, bulletin boards. The stuff Crouchs provide that is nonreligious

  16. Gregory Greenwood says

    Wow, this Alain de Botton chap could win prizes for his skills at missing the point. I think that, speaking for myself at least, part of the reason for being an atheist is to get away from all the temples/mosques/synagogues/churches, symbolic torture/execution devices, vestments, silly hats and other manifestations of unearned, patriarchal priestly privilege.

    Why is it that ‘atheism 2.0′ is starting to look an awful lot like theism 1.0*? That is, a glorified ponzi-scheme created to con the gullible and stoke the ego(s) of its founder(s)? You just know that this is going to play right into the hands of the type of xian that likes to whine “but atheism is just another religion”…

    ——————————————————————

    * And all later versions of theism – they just include more ‘sophisticated theology’ malware in later editions.

  17. Herr Mann says

    Ok, as an almost graduated architect I must protest about a few opinions given here.

    First of all I feel much negativity about the term ‘temple’, I don’t like it either, I feel it’s tainted by the overall feeling given by its connection to religions and rigid rituals and such. I would however prefer the term ‘self-reflection space’, which implies that you feel peacuful and concentrated in there, maybe even with friend’s company where you exchange ideas about life. I get that it’s more about the communal sense rather than following someone else’s stupid ritual, so don’t knock that idea out just yet.

    On the other hand I think it’s cool to have such places dedicated to introspection regardless of one’s belief or lack of it, regardless if it’s a library, a museum, a lab, a park, or whatever gets you off. We are human beings, so most of us tend to think about life from very different perspectives.

    Also, I would recommend to not rationalize architecture, as it has a very broad subjective quality, with subjective symbols and subjective meanings, just like art. (you can of course criticize it subjectively, but bear in mind there isn’t a right or wrong answer)

  18. says

    Also, I would recommend to not rationalize architecture, as it has a very broad subjective quality, with subjective symbols and subjective meanings, just like art. (you can of course criticize it subjectively, but bear in mind there isn’t a right or wrong answer)

    I think it would take amazing genre blindness not to see that “big black tower” is a objectively wrong answer

  19. jnorris says

    I like libraries, museums, schools, and court houses as ‘temples’ to atheism.

    But I do want an atheist black monolith temple built near Ground Zero just to piss Christians off.

  20. donny5 says

    When he starts calling himself Sauron, that’s it, he’s out of the club.

    Hobbits rule!

    Cheers

  21. says

    But I do want an atheist black monolith temple built near Ground Zero just to piss Christians off.

    People who built atheist temples to piss off Christians are called Satanists

  22. gworroll says

    Atheist temples?

    Aren’t museums, libraries, and schools sufficient to fill that role for atheists?

  23. davidcoburn says

    de Botton’s version of atheism is sadly giving credibility to the accusation by believers that atheism is simply another religion. His recent book is called ‘religion for atheists’? Bleh.

    I think it’s clear this man is simply trying to corral the support of people who are disenfranchised with the major religions but are unwilling to give up their fuzzier notions of god. I echo the cult leader sentiments in earlier comments.

  24. maureenbrian says

    We already have the tower, PZ. It has three eyes on top and is very ugly.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/aug/12/strata-tower-britains-ugliest-building

    All around it perfectly habitable flats are being knocked down – for lack of a bit of maintenance and a sensible approach to managing large housing developments – in order that the poor and unimportant may be driven out to the less salubrious suburbs, the ones where there are no jobs at all, in order to “encourage” them into work which does not exist and cut the welfare bill.

    In this sea of madness, Alain de Botton is just one more lost glace cherry. Against reality he cannot compete.

  25. firefly says

    @gmacs – #3

    We already have a fantastic, beautiful temple in London.
    It’s called the London Natural History Museum.

    Indeed! It’s one of the places in England I actually miss since having moved. (along with the fantastic Science Museum next door to it!)

    I have enjoyed a lot of de Botton’s work – ‘A Week at the Airport’ is a really great read – and at first I just felt sad that he was getting this ‘religion for atheist’ stuff so wrong. Now, he’s just plain starting to piss me off!

  26. jojo says

    Let me guess, the next step of his plan includes atheists paying a 10% tithe to cover the costs of building and maintaining these temples, right?

  27. Amphiox says

    But you can have Biblical libraries, Creation museums, Faith-based schools, and Religious courts….

    Atheism needs something itself, unique to itself, exclusionary to itself!

    Oh wait, it doesn’t.

    That’s the whole point.

  28. Irene Delse says

    Oh, Alain de Botton! Just come up with your own New Age religion, already, and stop pissing in the atheist pool!

  29. RFW says

    #30 We Are Ing says:

    People who built atheist temples to piss off Christians are called Satanists

    Bingo!

    Sounds to me like de Botton has read LotR too many times. Plus, perhaps, Aleister Crowley and Anton LeVey. LotR is an excellent fantasy, but Crowley and LeVey are nothing more than peddlers of pernicious horse pucky, as my sainted granny would have put it.

  30. spamamander, hellmart survivor says

    Apologies for a lack of cognizant or rational discourse but all that comes to my mind at the moment is “What the fuck I don’t even.”

  31. baal says

    I think Mr Bottom’s idea rocks!

    I’d like to be appointed sub-supreme commander, have absolute control over a 10% (gross not net) not-tithe and my choice of 10 hottie followers per month in perpetuity.

    Think we could get the non-priest garb to include a black miter and an impressive staff to wave at the folks?

  32. Emrysmyrddin says

    It sounds like bloody Orthanc. I can see de Botton standing on the top, trollolol-ing, calling upon Mount CaradhrasGherkin to delay, harass and generally irritate those trying to go about their business.

    Or perhaps he’s more of a Pratchettian wizard, and is just trying to build one taller than everyone else to totes prove his Grand Wizardly Super-ness before civilisation crumbles into an octarine-tinged mess.

    Either way, great idea, de Botton! Prove to all the xtian frothers that atheists are actually diabolic practitioners of the Dark Arts by constructing a monument that looks like its only purpose is to summon Cthlulu, or other assorted eldritch creatures with a +10 in Ebilness.

  33. Azkyroth says

    You know, I think there would be a market and a place for (more) buildings celebrating science, reason, and humanity that are comparably impressive to, say, Gothic cathedrals, but….

  34. says

    I find it amazing that an atheist (supposidly?) somehow fails so spectacular at empathy.

    The idea that people need religion to be moral or need temples is a religious one…people without religion don’t tend to believe that.

  35. Irene Delse says

    @ Emrysmyrddin:

    Oooh, that’s right, I can just see the Mount Gherkin as a Pratchettian wizard fortress, now! A kinda modern one, who thinks a giant suppository covered in mirrors is a clever mix of organic and futuristic design.

  36. greame says

    calls for unbelievers to copy the major religions

    That’s his first mistake. That’s one of the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long while. We’re trying to get away from the religions. Not be more like them.

  37. darknbubbly says

    Most of the atheists I know are perfectly content to congregate at the local pub or coffee shop; I see no reason to change this.

  38. Azkyroth says

    I think it would take amazing genre blindness not to see that “big black tower” is a objectively wrong answer

    Yeah, really. Imagine the cooling bills.

  39. rr says

    @darknbubbly

    I think the problem here is the local pub or coffee shop doesn’t glorify Alain de Botton.

  40. says

    Atheism 2.0 is not atheism. It is utter bullshit. A temple is for people who pray to a deity. As atheists, we don’t pray. We understand that there is nothing to pray to. We can leave the massive ego stroking for later when religion isn’t so smothering. And to pour his money into a giant phallus when he could be using it for numerous things that would actually help ease people’s suffering or educate them? De Botton should be ashamed of himself.

  41. mandrellian says

    Can the Official Atheist 2.0 Leadership Council please tell this high-born jackass to shut the fuck up and stop embarrassing himself and making atheists look like incurable, insufferable snobs?

    Oh, right, they can’t. Because they don’t exist. Because that would be _fucking stupid_.

  42. Moggie says

    Putting his money where his mouth is, De Botton has begun work on just such a temple. The first has been designed by Tom Greenall Architects, and is a concept for a 46-metre-tall black tower, sat in the City of London.

    Real estate in the City is not cheap. I can’t help wondering how much this vanity project will cost, and what that money could be better spent on.

  43. darknbubbly says

    @rr

    And all this time I thought we were supposed to glorify ourselves! At least, that’s what I keep hearing the religious folk squawk….

  44. Brownian says

    Holy fuck, are there that many atheists bawling their eyes out that they’ve no place to go for an hour every Sunday morning?

    Geez, getting out of going to church is the second best thing you can do on a Sunday. The first is not having to go at all.

  45. bart says

    The temples of the religionists *are* our temples. We don’t need to add any. The temples of the religious would never have been built if it weren’t for evidence-based reasoning, the very thing religionists oppose.

    They may think that their temples are glorifying their god(s), but what they are really doing is showing what humans can achieve when they are not prostrating before some hypothetical deity, but when they are using their reasoning powers instead.

    Alain de Botton is a sorry excuse for an intellectual.

  46. cybercmdr says

    How about we get all the atheist acolytes to wear IDIC symbols on chains around their necks, and then hail each other with the Vulcan salute! Hey! Maybe a Geek Temple, with a pantheon of Geek Gods! Steve Jobs can have the role of senior god, hurling mighty golden apples at his enemies…

    De Botton’s proposal truly does however miss the point about what atheism is (or should be). This seems to be a “We don’t fit in their club, so let’s create our own!” type of mentality. Atheism is a religion in the way that not collecting stamps is a hobby. We don’t need no stinkin’ temple!

    @Gregory: I love the idea of religion being mental malware. Very fitting. Too bad so many people are so infected that the Rationality AV doesn’t work on them. Apparently, de Botton still has not cleared his system of all the the effects of this virus.

  47. jacobfromlost says

    I’m so confused about Alain I don’t know where to start. Are there a lot of atheists who think this is a good idea? That it will catch on? (I can’t imagine that there are.) I can understand a Community Center, but he seems to be advocating the very trappings of religion–a kind of religious nonreligion. Again, I don’t get it.

    And even if it DID catch on, it would become something other than atheism pretty quickly because atheism isn’t a THING you can latch cultural aspects (or religious aspects) onto in that way. Soon the people going to the particular temple and repeating the particular poems and rituals will start saying atheists who DON’T go to Temple aren’t REALLY atheists because they should be participating in this Atheist 2.0 movement, and anyone who DOESN’T participate while being a nonbeliever are stubbornly undermining the Atheist 2.0 movement and making the efforst of those in the Temples pointless.

    …and we’re back to square one, as you’ve just made a religion of nonreligion and tried to pass it off as something directly connected to atheism, thus trying to put a wedge between atheists and atheism.

    Good luck with that.

    (Also, religion stole those things Alain likes FROM HUMANITY–rituals, myths, songs, art, socializing, celebrations, etc. They didn’t come from religion. Luckily atheists ARE humans, so there is no problem participating in all those things without reference to religion or religious overtones.)

  48. supermental says

    Always thought wired was a useless publication. Alain and wired. Match made in the trash heap.

  49. chrisseguin says

    Do not walk behind me – I will not lead
    Do not walk in front of me – I will not follow
    You can walk beside me – but I’d prefer you just leave me alone.

    Alain seems to be someone who still suffers from the virus that makes delusionists so credulous and self-centered. We require no monuments nor do we need any sort of tradition or ritual – in my mind the ideas of ritual and tradition echo ideas of surrender and slavery of freedom and thought. Blather on all you want Alain, but your words and ideas are not honey to my ears.

  50. says

    I did a little looking around and discovered Alain *also* wrote a book called “The Architecture of Happiness.” From the description: “With this entertaining and stimulating book, de Botton (How Proust Can Change Your Life) examines the ways architecture speaks to us, evoking associations that, if we are alive to them, can put us in touch with our true selves and influence how we conduct our lives. Because of this, he contends, it’s the architect’s task to design buildings that contribute to happiness by embodying ennobling values”

    Excuse me for a moment while I go running naked around my neighborhood screaming, “And THIS is the motherfucker who wants to build a monolithic black fucking tower in the middle of London?!?!?! THIS motherfucker!?!?!??!”

  51. says

    Yes to museums and libraries, as well as institutions of higher learning as far as “temples” for atheists. gmacs @#3, I managed to get completely lost in the London Natural History Museum in 1976. It was fun being lost in there however. The Science Museum is also great. Wasn’t it called the Museum of Science and Industry back then?.

    I have to go back to London soon.

  52. jacobfromlost says

    The more I think about this, the more it feels like a modern version of how Scientology started.

    Is Atheism 2.0 kind of like Scientology 2.0? We know all the alien stories are wrong, but that is only the “first step”?

    If there is a second step, in either case, it is a step in the wrong direction.

  53. peterh says

    Anyone who thinks Proust can change my life is really scratching the bottom of the barrel. Clutching at straws? Batshit whacko? Yeh – that’s the one.

  54. iskenderoglu says

    Robert Pirsig, in a novel having neither to do with zen nor with the art of motorcycle maintenance, has called the university the “church of reason.” That wheel has been turning for a while now, without any need for M. de Botton to re-invent it.

  55. says

    Holy fuck, are there that many atheists bawling their eyes out that they’ve no place to go for an hour every Sunday morning?

    More of no place to drop their kids off at daycare or the like.

  56. Ichthyic says

    Doesn’t he realize that, Saturday morning cartoons notwithstanding, the best form of Evil Lair is a building that looks just like everything else?

    good thing you added the exception, because, dude…

    LEGION OF DOOM!!!

  57. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    De Botton doesn’t want temples to atheism, he wants temples to his massive ego.

  58. Beanoglobin says

    Argh, the infinitely depressing ghost of Auguste Comte rides again.

    I know a number of educated theists, and they sometimes like to twit me about Comte, and the benighted, joyless Religion of Humanity he constructed in memory of a remarkable woman, into whose extremely Catholic pantalettes he sadly didn’t manage to inveigle himself before she even more sadly died. If only he had been accepted by Clotilde de Vaux – if only Clotilde had managed to say drakes to her wastrel husband and her religion, and shack up with Auguste anyway – we probably wouldn’t have had to put up with all this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_of_humanity

    Mr. de Botton? Can you hear me at the top of that tower, or must I employ semaphore? This Has Been Tried Before. It’s been done, but not very regularly dusted, and the surviving architecture is now just an additional conservation problem.

  59. Ichthyic says

    Excuse me for a moment while I go running naked around my neighborhood screaming, “And THIS is the motherfucker who wants to build a monolithic black fucking tower in the middle of London?!?!?! THIS motherfucker!?!?!??!”

    Heartily seconded.

    with insane laughter added on for good measure.

  60. duphrane says

    We Are Ing has won this thread with:

    “I think it would take amazing genre blindness not to see that “big black tower” is a objectively wrong answer”

  61. truthspeaker says

    baal says:
    26 January 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I think Mr Bottom’s idea rocks!

    I’d like to be appointed sub-supreme commander, have absolute control over a 10% (gross not net) not-tithe and my choice of 10 hottie followers per month in perpetuity.

    “That’s the great thing about fascism. It gives every piss-ant an ant hill to piss from.” – PJ O’Rourke.

  62. Emrysmyrddin says

    @Irene #47:

    who thinks a giant suppository covered in mirrors is a clever mix of organic and futuristic design.

    Grand High Chancellor Poobah His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales? How did you know?

    @tricycle #52:

    If this should ever be built it would invite a visit by Treebeard and his kin.

    On the War of the Deep Rifts! Battle came unto the City of London; and much smoke and flame there was from the dread tower Alainthc, where Botton de White had gathered those fell beasts the Accommodationists, and the Somewhat Spiritual, and the tribe of We’re All Quantum Universal Energy Man…

    We come, we come with roll of drum: ta-runda runda runda rom!
    We come, we come with horn and drum: ta-runa runa runa rom!

  63. KG says

    Real estate in the City is not cheap. I can’t help wondering how much this vanity project will cost, and what that money could be better spent on.

    Well, it would cover a good few drug-fuelled orgies, with plenty left over to fund – say – free primary education and HIV treatment in Swaziland. Really, Alain’s scraping de Botton of the barrel here.

  64. says

    The temple needs to be a black slab with ratios 1 x 4 x 9.

    If that was indeed built, it might be fun watching Alain de Botton run around, futilely chasing tapirs with a leg bone.

  65. Ichthyic says

    If that was indeed built, it might be fun watching Alain de Botton run around, futilely chasing tapirs with a leg bone.

    oddly, that’s already the image I have of de Botton.

    you know what would be really funny?

    If a group of us got together and officially “excommunicated” de Botton.

    Think he would get the message then?

  66. Gregory Greenwood says

    Ichthyic @ 87;

    you know what would be really funny?

    If a group of us got together and officially “excommunicated” de Botton.

    Think he would get the message then?

    Since de Botton likes his rituals so much, I think he would appreciate a dedicated form of words. There is the added benefit that we could probably keep it to one side for the next time we need to send a message to some twit who thinks xe can ‘improve’ atheism by adding in a little religion.

    Hmmm…

    How about;

    “*Insert name of fallen atheist*, thou art cast out of the fellowship of the godless. No more succulent babies shalt pass thy lips. Thou art unworthy to be eaten by Cthulhu, the FSM’s noodley appendage is withdrawn from thee. The Pink Quantum Unicorns will no longer canter at thy side in thy journey through life.

    Thy voice will nevermore be raised in shrill pedantry. Mock not the homeopath nor the quantum woo monger nor the godbot – thou art unworthy, and the pointy sword of reason resides not in thy sheath.

    Though hideous pseudo-phallic tower thou might build, or ersatz newage religion thou might invent and call it atheist, the lady scepticism turns her face from thee, and Typos will not accept thy tribute of split infinitives and humourously mispelt words.

    Begone, godless-no-more, begone!”

    Over long – check.

    Annoying use of needlessly antiquted langauge – check.

    Pompus and flowery pseudo-poetic imagry – check.

    Yup, that seesm to cover all the bases; de Botton should love it.

  67. piranhaintheguppytank says

    Alain de Botton proposes building “atheist temples”.

    Don’t be too quick to knock it. This could be PZ’s chance to be immortalized in stained glass.

    PZ did desecrate a sacred cracker. That makes him a shoe-in for atheistic sainthood. (When we write the Atheistic Bible, we’ll put in some embellishments about his victorious battle against some Vatican ninjas.)

    *

    Will the “church” sign outside the atheistic temple read:

    FOR THE LAST TIME
    WE’RE NOT CYNICS

  68. Ichthyic says

    Outstanding.

    agreed!

    really not too shabby for a first attempt!

    Now, how do we make it look all official-like, and provide a place for signatures of the relevant atheist authorities…

  69. Ichthyic says

    from a nice listing of various historical excommunications:

    EXCOMMUNICATION OF FREDERIC II. BY INNOCENT IV. AT THE COUNCIL OF LYONS, 1245. Harduin, Concilia, VII, col. 3&5, 386. Latin.

    [Innocent recapitulates the efforts of the popes to maintain peace between the church and the empire and dwells upon the sins of the emperor. Then, after charging him with the particular crimes of per- jury, sacrilege, heresy, and tyranny, he proceeds as follows ;]

    — We, therefore, on account of his aforesaid crimes and of his many other nefarious misdeeds, after careful deliberation with our brethren and with the holy council, acting however unworthily as the vicar of Jesus Christ [Sagan, deGrasse Tyson, Dawkins?] on earth and knowing how it was said to us in the person of the blessed apostle Peter [Paul … Myers], Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; We announce and declare the said prince to be bound because of his sins and rejected by the Lord and deprived of all honor and dignity, and moreover by this sentence we hereby deprive him of the same since he has rendered himself so unworthy of ruling his king- dom and so unworthy of all honors and dignity ; for, indeed, on account of his iniquities he has been rejected of God that he might not reign or exercise authority. All who have taken the oath of fidelity to him we absolve forever from such oath by our apostolic authority, absolutely forbidding any one hereafter to obey him or look upon him as emperor or king. Let those whose duty it is to select a new emperor proceed freely with the election. But it shall be our care to piovide as shall seem fitting to us for the kingdom of Sicily with the council of our brothers, the cardinals.

    I stopped substituting because of time constraints, but this is an actual excommunication, and it basically writes itself for use as parody for use on de Botton!

    taken from here, should you want more examples:

    http://www.archive.org/stream/ordealscompurgat0404howl/ordealscompurgat0404howl_djvu.txt

    just do a text search on “excommunication” to find the chapter heading for it.

  70. nobonobo says

    …and right at the bottom will be a millimetre-thick band of gold that represents humanity’s brief existence within that life.

    That would be 100,000 times too thick! Like his skull.

  71. nobonobo says

    No, that’s not right. Make it two millimeters.
    We’ve been around more than one year. Need coffee.

  72. cmv says

    Wow. What an incredibly stupid idea.
    Just for the sake of argument, though, since when exactly is 14 stories a tall tower?? In London, no less? This is not even a medium-sized tower.

  73. rogerallen says

    De Botton has a taste for architecture. He built his own white concrete house in London with enormous windows so people can see his library as they go past.
    Surely one virtue of atheists is that we don’t build temples where we don’t pray to non-existent divine beings to give us undeserved benefits

  74. CuervodeCuero says

    My first thought after his TED talk certainly was ‘wait..what? what?? Isn’t this how Scientology got started?’

    If he’s got the cash to dole out over an architectural folly in downtown London, I would like to be the first (I hope) to volunteer the conspiracy that he is the shill of a secret religious cabal seeking to discredit nonbelievers from making a credible stand in modern society. He will be the only presence allowed on greater media representing ‘atheists’ and become the public ‘framing’ that every individual claiming to be atheist must now refute, over and over and over.

    Has anyone dubbed this the Tower of Babble yet?

  75. says

    I had never hear of this nincompoop until now. I just endured his TED talk on Atheism 2.0, and he reminds me of the motivational speakers often hired by large companies to entertain their useless managers. He bleats and blathers and uses a lot of words to say nothing of value. I don’t feel any urge to endure anything else from him. It might work better after 5 or six beers. Perhaps.

  76. Chris Booth says

    De Botton is a sycophant playing the part of the Jester. A sort of temporal Pascal’s Wager. He is mumming the theist’s image of a “good” atheist, so he will be the de facto, go-to atheist-in-chief. Sort of the way that the Chinese intervened to appoint their own Dalai Lama. Cult leader or archbishop, its all the same. The Theist-King’s pet atheist will have, in Cartman’s pronunciation, “authoritay”. Cathedral with himself as Bishop.

    [A display of faux self-deprecation; “Me? Oh, no, no, no. I couldn’t. I really shouldn’t. Oh, well, since you insist, Milord! …And may I suggest, Milord, the Tower needs a new annex, and maybe a little more gold. And that terrible man, that North Oxford “New Atheist”. We don’t want him in our Tower, do we, Milord? No. And that bad American, PeeZed, he’s not a real atheist, an Atheist 2.0 like me, he’s another of those pretend, strident, embarrassing “New Atheists”. We don’t want him to visit our Tower, you gave it to me, and it is mine, and anyone who wants to enter the Tower should follow my tenets, because I wrote them and they are mine. ‘Only through me can one enter the Kingdom of Atheism, eh, Milord?’ But for those others, there is the corn field, right Milord? Because I am the Only True Atheist, and 2.0 are my fleeced. Er, flocked. Well and Truly Flocked. In de Botton, Amen.]

    Its too obvious, really. The “cathedral” atheists would be drawn to would be a university or library or museum, not to a place of pomp and ritual. A disdain for empty ceremony and unmerited position is one of the things that drives atheism, not a petulant cry of envy of the good old C of E. And that tower! What is he, an atheist Robert H. Shuller, but with dreams of flashing a large black phallus across London for all to see? A sort of Black-Dick Whittington, A-bishop of London-Town?

  77. Chris Booth says

    CuervodeCuero @ # 98:

    I think you are right, or very nearly. His positions are assinine.

    He will be a poster-child for the religios, in two ways: 1. He’s such a suck-up, they are sure to like him; they will feel at home and unthreatened (“he’s so like a, well, a human…you know, almost like one of us; he likes churches and costumes and ceremonies and hierarchies and sermons and hymns and prayers, and he criticizes those scary strident atheists who don’t like those things and aren’t like us”). 2. That silly atheist! He wants a cathedral, as if he were one of us! Aren’t atheists ridiculous!

    He is aping the religious to win their good graces, but looking silly at the same time. Trying to dress atheism up in cassocks and chasubles and spires and naves and gilt is ridiculous. To the religious, an atheist cathedral is like seeing a toddler in her father’s shoes and hat. Or it is like panda bears with their “eye” patches; they look cute, yet also comical. But it is safely ridiculous, and that differs greatly from Hitchens or Dawkins. He’s a Beanie-Baby lion or dragon: he’s a Beanie-Baby atheist, one they can invite to church, and who will tell the churchgoers how right and good they are, and how untenable the other atheists are.

  78. says

    This is what I want for my Atheist temple:

    It needs to be a giant, cavernous space. Think 747 hangar sized and you’re starting to get the picture. The inside of the space will be painted pure dazzling white. In the middle will be a huge green (why green? why not!) cube. Atop the cube will be a statue of Prof R Dawkins beating a religious zealot to death using a copy of Origin of the Species in one hand and The God Delusion in the other. There will be additional statues of the likes of Hitchens, Myers, Thunderf00t, and AronRa egging him on.

    Every second Tuesday of the month there will be a service – aka PARTY! There will be cake.

  79. persiflage says

    Alain, you have made me realise there is so much missing from my life! I’ve always wondered why my attempts not to play the flute were so unsatisfying: of course, I need a flute to not play! I need an album to not collect stamps in! I need a burqa to not wear! Most importantly of all, I need a temple to not worship in, and I need it now.

  80. jascmer says

    We already have one. Well, it’s not a temple, but there is Conway Hall, which

    is owned by South Place Ethical Society, an educational charity whose aims are the study and dissemination of ethical principles based on humanism and freethought, the cultivation of a rational and humane way of life, and the advancement of research and education in all relevant fields.

    and is also the home of the National Secular Society. Have been to many an atheist or Humanist event there.

  81. maureenbrian says

    Friends, don’t miss the podcast on the Conway Hall site under Conway Memorial Lecture – Philip Schofield of UCL on Bentham and sexual liberty.

  82. says

    Slugsie, you disappoint me.

    “Atop the cube will be a statue of Prof R Dawkins beating a religious zealot to death using a copy of Origin of the Species in one hand and The God Delusion in the other. ”

    It should be a Christian, humanely slaughtered, without anaesthesia, so that even those who are too far away in this large temple can at least rejoice in hearing her/him delightfully squealing in agony.

    He/she should then be slowly roasted as a burnt offering accompanied by a chanting of the Origin of Species so that the entire town can enjoy the festive smells and sounds and be edified by the atheist mastery of a genuine ritual.

  83. jnorris says

    “People who built atheist temples to piss off Christians are called Satanists”

    There are some builders who are scum, but not all builders are Satanists.

  84. says

    I think he means well. He gets some laughs, and maybe while he’s at it gets some people thinking.

    I think he may be right, in that there’s a gap between scholars and the rest of us. I think there’s room there for people like Hitchens, not some tofu church.

    It would be nice if someone asked his opinion on Dawkin’s question of “Does religion fill a much needed gap?”

  85. says

    I think he means well. He gets some laughs, and maybe while he’s at it gets some people thinking.

    When someone starts requesting you build them temples the benefit of doubt has expired

    I think he may be right, in that there’s a gap between scholars and the rest of us.

    And his solution is to preserve that gap, nay to cement it in an institution?

  86. EnoNomi says

    As a former Catholic and now Atheist I totally get this. There is a feeling you get sitting in a beautiful cathedral that is rarely found elsewhere – not that it can’t be. An Architect can invoke feelings that people arn’t consciousl­y aware of. I was first made aware of this in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, his architectu­re compelled you to move out from the foyer into the living space. A cathedral – a building of a certain size and beauty – can invoke a feeling of quiet medatative calm, and I do feel sad and nostalgic that we don’t have something like that for us.

  87. Sili says

    De Botton has a taste for architecture. He built his own white concrete house in London with enormous windows so people can see his library as they go past.

    Really? I’d hate to let my books get too much direct sunlight.