Alain de Botton argues in his book Religion for Atheists that religions still have some very important things to teach us, even if we no longer believe their supernatural claims. Rather than mocking religions, non-believers should instead take the best of what they have to offer.
One religious story that we can all still learn from is the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which describes a conversation about what it means to live fully and how we should treat others. It is a story that nearly everyone knew by heart when I was a child, though hardly anyone does these days. So I repeat it as it was originally told, but with some alternative translations in brackets for the non-religious reader.
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.
"Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life [to live fully]?"
He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?"
He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God [the Highest Good] with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself."
And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?"
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
"Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite [an instructor in religious law], when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
"But a Samaritan [a half-caste, despised by the religious establishment] while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity [compassion]. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii [pieces of silver], gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?"
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