Atheist Alain de Botton points out religion’s usefulness
Ok, this is one of those things you don’t see too often. An atheist pointing out the usefulness of religion. Now don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t want society merely deciding we religionists might be useful so they’ll keep us around a little longer… I think is about more than utility. It doesn’t just work, it’s true! It’s good. But I have to say it’s quite refreshing to hear an atheist being so congenial to communities of faith. And I also have to say that Christians should consider being a little less defensive when encountering atheists or engaging them in debate.
Atheism can be a healthy challenge and an opportunity to strengthen our faith. I had a seminary professor who pretended to be an atheist for 6 weeks in my philosophy of religion class. He challenged our belief and wouldn’t let it go until he believed we were taking the other side seriously; until he thought we could treat them with humanity. A few guys left seminary over it. It gave me a deeper heart for those who don’t believe and why. I wanted to love them, listen to them, and most of all, be credible for them. I wish I could say I’ve been perfect over the years, but I haven’t.
I also think these comments are powerful insights for Christian leaders. Understanding the power of community can help us encourage the faithful and reach the seeking. What do you think? Interesting, no?