In a world ruled by the hegemony of religion, whether it is the Catholic Church in Latin America, the Christianity of Republicans, or the Islam of Iran or Saudi Arabia, most people in the world live under a type of discourse religion regime, where the hegemony of some type of faith (of that particular faith, on none other is accepted) is total.
It is hard to think critically and individually about matters of the soul, the spirit, the divine, death and life, when you’re being force-fed dogma after dogma. But this is not about atheism, it’s about doubt, it’s about thought, and especially, dialogue.
So how to reconcile and start dialogue with the rest of the world, who, for better or for worse, do believe in these things? Alain de Botton at TED gave an impressive talk on this. Following the same vein as Carl Sagan in Broca’s Brain, de Botton invites atheists not to shut themselves off from the world with a dismissive “go talk to your imaginary friend Jesus”, and to not underestimate politeness.
But he goes further than Sagan and suggests that we can learn enormously from religion in the tools it uses, in the purposes it tries to serve and in the needs it tries to fulfill in people. I’ll let him do the talking.