Why a temple for atheists?

2012-02-02 Vatican Radio

The British media has recently been covering a story which focuses around philosopher and writer Alain de Botton’s alleged plans to build a one million and a half pound , 150 foot tower at the heart of London’s financial district to house a ' Temple for atheists '.

Plans which seem to have provoked the ire of some non-believers. As Alain de Botton writes in his blog this idea seems to : “ have had the power to annoy a great many good and clever people."

Intrigued by this story Veronica Scarisbrick thought she' d ask Monsignor Peter Fleetwood a former official at the Pontifical Council for Culture , an Office which during the Pontificate of John Paul II merged with the Council for dialogue with Non-believers, to comment on this story. She begins by asking him to simply define the difference between atheist and non – believers: " ..there are all sorts of people who don't believe in god or in a spiritual realm of being. Atheists have definitely proved to themselves or decided for themselves that there is no room in their way of understanding the universe for any kind of god. But there are other people who just don't know whetherthey believe and they prefer to leave the whole question at arm's length.."

In this interview Monsignor Fleetwood then gets asked to comment further as to the outcry de Botton has provoked. A reflection which ends with him saying that he believes that what’s being put forward is something like saying: ‘ not why does the devil have all the best songs’ but 'why do religious people have all the best buildings, why shouldn’t we as well?'.

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