Two of the country’s most prominent atheists have clashed over plans to build a £1 million “temple for atheists” in the City of London.
Alain de Botton, a philosopher and writer, wants to build a 46-metre tower to celebrate atheism as a positive force.
He says the structure would celebrate “new atheism” and act as an antidote to the “aggressive” atheism of the likes of Richard Dawkins.
But Professor Dawkins, the author of the God Delusion, says the project is a waste of money and a contradiction in terms.
He said: “Atheists don’t need temples. I think there are better things to spend this kind of money on.”
David Robertson, director of Christian group Solas, said: “For once I find myself partially agreeing with Richard Dawkins. Given that we are continually told that atheists believe nothing, it does seem somewhat silly and ridiculous to erect a temple to non-belief.”
Tom Greenall, the project’s architect, said that discussions over a possible site with City authorities had stalled because, he claims, “they can’t be seen to be connected to anything to do with atheism”.
Mr de Botton has raised almost half the funds needed for the temple from a group of anonymous property developers, but attempts to secure public sector backing have struggled.