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This isn’t a new video, but I watched it for the first time today despite having heard about the book it’s based on (Religion for Atheists, 2011) when it first came out.

Alain proposes that, rather than dispose of religion altogether, atheists should put aside the doctrine but keep the ritualistic, social and moral elements that make religion such a comforting and helpful tool for so many people.

He argues that we should bring back the sermon as much more effective model of communication than the dry lecture, and that we can use ritual, art and social spaces to encourage reflection on the big truths or virtues of life – love, generosity, compassion, for example. For me Alain’s talk makes a lot of sense on so many levels. He asks us not to reject thousands of years worth of social innovation simply because we don’t believe in the ideas that are being conveyed by it anymore, but to keep the infrastructure and instead infuse it with what makes most sense to us now. As he says, there is no reason why the mystery and wonderment of modern science can’t provide the same sensation as that of a “spiritual” experience, which helps us put our own lives and problems into perspective.

I would love to hear other people’s responses – are you religious? What do you think about his ideas? If you’re an atheist, do his ideas reflect your feelings… are you an atheist 2.0? If there was one positive quality in religion that you’d like to keep what would it be, and how would you use it?

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