Recently I've begun practising meditation for about 40 minutes a day, as often as I can anyway. My interest in religious experience and spirituality was cut short when I was quite young, as I realised there was no god like everyone was telling me there was so I didn't explore the ideas further. Now I've come back to it through following prominent atheists and their work, especially Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett, the former advocating the exploration of spiritual practises and the latter advocating we use churches without involving the god parts.

What are your views on atheists utilising practises traditionally associated with religion?

  1. Churches
  2. Prayer / Meditation
  3. Pilgrimage / Fasting
  4. Symbols / Traditional phrases (our own equivalent of the crosses and "bless you", "god be with you", etc.)

To be clear, I'm not particularly interested in "not for me, you can do what you like" or "I like it". I want to know people's true opinions on the subject are, how they think these practises will affect themselves, communities of people and possibly humanity as a whole. Any scientific research on the matter would be of interest too, I'd say.

My view is that these practices would be immensely beneficial to everyone if they were divorced from the dogmas attached.

This is one article on the matter:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104310443