If you haven’t yet started listening to On Being, I can highly recommend it. It’s a respectful and varied trip through people’s belief systems. I rarely do not enjoy it. Some memorable—and perhaps pertinent to MoF readers—shows include an interview with Terry Tempest Williams and two recent episodes focusing on Istanbul (one an interview with a local Dominican friar).
But today, if you only listen to one, let it be Alain de Botton on atheism and keeping the good parts of religion. He has organized what he calls “the School of Life” to fill the community and thinking-deep-thoughts void of areligion. It includes nightly “sermons”, a word he uses instead of lectures to encourage people to take what they learn—or think about—and apply it to their life outside; to keep it from remaining a purely academic pursuit.
This is a place I’d love to visit. I hope that, next time I’m in London, I get the chance to. I hope that it branches out and opens one down the street from me.
One of the major points he makes in this interview is that we are not born knowing how to live—we need to be taught morals, how to love, and how to deal with death. Religion does this well; atheism generally does not. To this end, he’s written a book, Religion for Atheists: a Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, which I have not yet read but which has definitely been added to my List.