You might be interested in this interview with the A/N admin, Brother Richard - talking about his history with religion and trying to create an atheist community.  Both he and the interviewer exude "Christian-ness" even though they are nontheists. It makes me wonder if people benefit by going through a religious stage.

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It makes you wonder if people benefit by going through a religious stage.

Most of us that do go through that religious stage have done so because of our parents and our backgrounds. Being raised into religion (or having it all around us) we thought this was the way to go. Then most of us studied theism to be a part of it (minister, pastor, etc.) only to find that religion was absurd in the end. We benefited by having all that bible knowledge. This makes us much more different than atheists that became so because "god would not let children suffer," or "my mother died," etc. I've found many atheists that simply did not want to listen to anything about god, so they became atheist. This is sort of like the person who can drive a car but knows nothing else about that car at all. An atheist who came out of theism can usually disprove god and the bible with logic, and can do the same with any other "holy book." When we say there is no evidence, that statement needs to be backed up in some way to make it valid.

This is the big benefit of a religous past.

Or people who did have that sense of community in a religious setting, who have learned some of the good lessons of religion, being charitable and helpful, etc., might be able to carry that into atheist surroundings.   Perhaps not though, because religions teach strongly that those benefits come from religion.

I'm non-religious mostly because I wasn't brought up religious.  I have experienced a sense of divine presence at times.  If I were brought up in religious, likely that would have made me an especially convinced religious person.  But I wasn't, and I don't like jumping to conclusions - so I never added onto that sense of divine presence what religions add to it - the belief that it implied the existence of a being with magical powers that might perhaps magically intervene in my life. 

A few religious groups (with a broad view of "religion"), such as Ethical Culture, provide community for theists and nontheists alike. I know a third-generation atheist who's comfortable and active in her Unitarian Universalist church. (People have pointed out that UU congregations vary tremendously; YMMV.)

I've shared before on here the website "God Is Imaginary", and its anti-theist author's view that church communities minus the delusion could still be strong and useful. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" -- scroll down to "What about Churches".

"A thriving church community can be an amazing thing. But it is the people who make that happen, not any imaginary being. Once the imaginary being is gone, churches continue to exist as communities of people who enjoy each others' company, who help one another in times of need, and who focus on goodness and good deeds for the benefit of society as a whole. What's not to like about that?"

What would you say, just out of curiosity, to someone who thinks God routinely answers their prayers - like my very Christian friend who thought God was arranging for his support checks to arrive just when he needed them most?

What would I say to people who think God routinely answers their prayers?

I live in a retirement community and know a few such people. I say nothing about their expectations, whether met or unmet. What I say depends upon what we have in common, which is very little. There are many others with whom I talk about politics, science or events in the news. Several nonbelievers and I sometimes rake religion over the coals.

But Tom, last night I prayed and god helped me find my car keys. He did this while children starve and die of cancer all over the world, and multitudes of people are killed and others made homeless, so I think this at least says something!  :)

...so I think this at least says something!

Yes; its putting your keys where you would find them proves beyond doubt that it knows who not to mess with.

Good write Michael

The benefits of extensive religious experience don't end with the benefits of anti-poligetics.  I would venture to say the the brain and human relationships are so complicated that being experienced with something like religion, with so much relevance to society, has a very significant impact not only on ones worldview but also on their life-trajectory and even quality of life. 

The benefits of extensive religious experience don't end with the benefits of anti-poligetics.

I think so too. It might open people up in a good way and sometimes teach people how to be a good person. 

Many ex-religionists have had a bad experience with religion, but Brother Richard sounds like he was different in some ways, that it was his rationality that made him atheist, not the bad experience. 

I share much in common with Brother Richard.  Bible College Education, experience preaching/teaching in the Church, and likewise, no negative reason for leaving the church.  I merely could not avoid the problem of the teachings of Christianity and every other religion all but guaranteeing themselves to be false, even in their various interpretations.  For me the truth was inescapable, and reason enough to leave, albeit quietly.  

I know that guy. :)

For the record, in this interview I am not really commenting on the "community" of Atheist Nexus (which is made up of people from divergent backgrounds and cultures), but specifically the community aspects that many former evangelical Christians feel they are missing from the current atheist movement. 

Also, this was a few years ago. So things are changing.

I'm interested in reading other's comments.

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