I am about to begin reading William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience. I borrowed the book from the library but it is available online here: http://www.psychwww.com/psyrelig/james/toc.htm


The author takes the stance that the veracity of claims about deities are separate and apart from the utility of religion.


I have been following the same line of thinking. Deist have a lot to prove when they claim God exist, Atheist have a lot to prove when they claim humanity does not need religion. In other words: God may not exist, but that does not mean we do not need him.


 I am encouraged over the possibilities represented by the presence of this group. Looking forward to fruitful discussions here. Thanks for setting this up.

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The difference here is that atheists do not to prove that humanity does not need religion. All we have to prove is that need God does not make him exist.
where is the proof of that statement?
The Western capitalized 'God' is generally thought of as the Christian-y theist omnipresent, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, and personal. Disproving any one of these our combination of these relegates the whole concept to meaninglessness. Now perhaps you mean something simpler like pantheism. In my experience proselytizing to new agers, once you are able to address the needs for religion and wonder there is no further need for a god concept. Have you encountered something different, Mike?
It's complicated but very simple.

The only God that actually exists , exists in our minds. Our entire civilization has evolved with these structures in place. It seems crazy to say this was all pointless and fruitless. Like the Christians like to say "you will know them by their fruits". The fact is, religion can produce good fruits (pun intended). There just may be a sort of "mental technology" that we can tap into and use without all the hocus pocus.

Our brains though their natural processes create God, and why fight mother nature.

For further reading see my blog post http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/on-spirituality
The proof to that statement is that if we can prove that needing God does not make him exist, then there will be nothing to need since God does not exist. How can one need something that does not exist?

A need implies some negative consequence if the need is not satisfied. I cannot need a mermaid because I can not experience a negative consequence for the event of there being no mermaid, since I never had a mermaid. For there to be a negative consequence there must be a "before" and "after" to observe a consequence. Since mermaids probably don' t exist I have no before or after to observe a negative consequence in order to establish that there was a need.
If we did not need Gods, why did we create them?
Boy, I must have been sleepy when I wrote that. I meant: The difference here is that atheists do not need to prove that humanity does not need religion. All atheists need to prove is that having a need for religion does not make God exist.
MUCH better, thanks for the clarification Rudy.
That was one of the great works on the nature of religion. I intend to read it myself. I agree with the stance that the veracity of claims about deities are separate and apart from the utility of religion. This is the reason that I started this group. I firmly believe that religion is a deep part of human nature. I think that it is possible to provide a compelling case for the value of religion. Supernaturalism is something else entirely and most conceptions of 'god' are supernatural by definition. Considering the setting of our discussion I hope you can forgive me if I presume that arguing against supernaturalism is unnecessary.

There is a good chance that the William James book will make arguments for the benefits of altered states of consciousness. If so, I would not interpret that as an argument for supernaturalism.
I have not gotten very far into the book, there was one short allusion to altered states so far, his take was there may be value to the insights gained, but these insights have to be backed up with evidence to hold water. I can agree with that.

On your assumption: that's why we are all here right? to have a rational discussion where we can skip the whole supernatural debate and talk about ideas? That is why I am here.
And let me welcome you to this group, your posts have been very insightful. Also thanks for adding the link to that great classic book by William James. He was one of the great American philosophers.




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