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The Varieties of Nonreligious ExperienceAtheism in American Culture$
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Jerome P. Baggett

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479874200

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479874200.001.0001

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(p.227) Conclusion
The Varieties of Nonreligious Experience

Jerome P. Baggett

NYU Press

This conclusion begins by pointing out some of the differences between the foci and findings in this book and those addressed within the psychologist and philosopher William James’s classic The Varieties of Religious Experience. His book focused on religious conversion, whereas this one attends to atheists. James pays most attention to the psychological aspects of conversion, while this book draws readers’ attentions to aspects of social context that shape the expression and experience of atheism. While James argues that religious ideas are variable and only the feeling of finding the sacred is consistent across individual cases, this book shows that, for atheists, the idea of the science versus religion “conflict myth” is constant, whereas the feelings that authenticate this idea are actually variable. This chapter concludes with suggestions about how atheists could offer a more incisive contribution to American public discourse than they do at present.

Keywords:   William James, conversion, atheism, psychological, social context, ideas, feelings, conflict myth, public discourse

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