Ideas you can (safely) steal from religion

Carrying on my theme of belief (see previous entry), I’ve been watching the always-entertaining Alain de Botton on TED. Back in 2009, I recommended his talk entitled A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success, in which he spoke about the gulf between our expectations of life and the sometimes harsh reality. He’s clearly dug deeper, and has now focused his sharp mind, ready wit and elegant turn of phrase on religion. He’s not religious, he says, but that doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy some of the rituals,  systems and methods that religion offers. With characteristic good humour, he calls his approach Atheism 2.0. It has a lot more to do with the world of business than you might imagine. And with communication, marketing, persuasion and organisation. It got me thinking about:
  • Imparting data vs. helping people (aka features and benefits).
  • The power of repetition (blog posts, newsletters, phone calls,  networking).
  • The role of rituals and regularity in cementing belief (showing up is half the battle).
  • Why speaking well is crucial to persuasion (and writing well is just as important).
  • Why propaganda isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and how you can harness it).
  • The power of collaboration (where 1 + 1 is always more than 2, and in the Catholic church’s case, $97bn).
De Botton says you may not agree with the central tenets of organised religion, but you have to admit it’s a highly effective mechanism for spreading ideas. And that’s a mechanism we could all do with. Atheism 2.0 is 15 minutes long, with 4 minutes of Q&A (worth watching too). (If you’re reading in an email, you’ll find the talk here.) Find out more: