Why should religions get to have all the fun buildings?
We’re big fans of de Botton’s writing, especially The Architecture of Happiness, which is so full of lovely thoughts about beauty, generosity, and gargoyles that we find it hard to believe he’s an atheist. But there it is.
In fact, de Botton’s tower–which may or may not ever get built–is meant to counteract the negativity associated with atheism that he sees in the work of people like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. Of course, that subtle point is likely to be lost on most of the religious community, where knee-jerk outrage is the standard response to the phrase “temple to atheism.”
Truth be told, we are building temples to atheism every day. Every time a community hires the best architects with the biggest budgets to design a new art museum or concert hall, they are reinforcing the message that the church is no longer the most important building in town. Kansas City has gotten two of these monuments in recent years, both drawing international attention to the fact that we no longer care to build great churches.