Stripped of its supernatural elements, does religion have anything to offer atheists? What can nonbelievers borrow from the organizations, practices and rituals of believers -- without borrowing a belief in God?
According to Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton, a lot.
In his new book, Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion, he outlines an array of things he contends religions get right and that atheists can adopt to create a better, richer secular society.
"The starting point of all religions is that humans are weak and vulnerable and needing direction," de Botton said shortly after arriving in the United States from his home in England to promote the book.
"But as I look at secular society, I see how we've been abandoned to make our own way through life and how challenging that is."
Religion, de Botton writes, has a lot to say about how to live and love, caring for others, handling suffering, dealing with death and all the other universal experiences that make us human.
And while he is not suggesting that atheists adopt a belief, he argues that atheists ignore religion's wisdom at their peril.