"What I can’t understand are atheists who want to write about it and convince other people. Take Dawkins. "
I’d say that thing with Dawkins is simply hat he thinks that some groups are too loud and should be fought using their own weapons. Or, on one example - while atheists mind their own business and don’t bother with stating the obvious, someone is putting creationism into schools and propagating the idea that it is a scientific ‘theory’. However, although I love Dawkins’ early work with the selfish gene hypothesis, I never read a ‘God delusion’ since it seams to me something like ‘arguing with a fool’ (where the observer is not able to tell the difference). And by fool I don’t mean every religious person but everyone ready to believe to the letter into things written in books or preached to them, without any wish to use their own brain. So I have kind of a mixed feelings about his approach. Sometimes, when I face certain problems caused by religion (or certain forms of human stupidity), I think that maybe someone has to do the dirty job of arguing with a fool. But many times I just don’t feel it as a right way.
In terms of a religion in general, I’m also not sure what exactly is my attitude. In my ideal world people wouldn’t have a need for a religion. But there are some indications that what makes us humans also makes us susceptible for religious ideas and maybe there will always be some need for it. As long as we find some way to stop killing and discriminating each other on the basis of religion, I wouldn’t mind it.
"Why, then can’t atheists accept that some people may have experienced something of a spiritual nature? "
You told Fridemann that he is “firing a shotgun at all faiths” but I think that here you are making the same mistake :). Being atheists doesn’t mean negating any kind of unexplained phenomenon, although sure, some atheists do that. I’m an atheists, from an atheistic family and many of my friends are, but both me and other people I know had some experiences that do not have explanation in today’s science. But that is how I see them - as phenomenon that we are today unable to explain, but tomorrow, who knows? I don’t rush to associate these experiences with some god that write books, tell people how to live, whom to kill and that women have to cover their head to show that they are ‘lower’ than men (all ‘nice’ examples from the Bible…).
For me, same goes for the healings. If I would fell terminally ill, I would have an immense hope into forces of my body and my immune system, hope greater than any scientific proof (despite being a scientist myself). We do not know everything about our bodies, so there is no reason not to hope.
"Intellectual curiosity and invention is not the exclusive property of atheists. "
very true, but - faith sometimes may prevent you from seeing the evidence. I have a very good science friend who is a Christian. She, of course, never denies evolution of the life on Earth because it is impossible to deny it if you understand the evidences. However, she refuses to believe that humans are product of organic evolution and believes that at some point god just created us, separately. Her way of dealing with the science of human evolution is simply to refuse to hear, read or work about/on any research that can touch the subject of human evolution. Darwin himself postponed the publishing of “On the Origin of the Species” for 10 years because he didn’t wan to hurt his wife’s religious feelings and also his own. It took a death of his beloved daughter that made him ‘agnostic-enough’ to finally print the book.
" I mean are you content with your world view, or is it a view in transition? "
I hope you don’t mind me answering, too :).
Yes, nothing more, nothing less. I am perfectly content with the fact that I am just one of the billions of living creatures who lived on this planet (in this universe) and that one day, sooner or later, I will completely cease to exist. And I am content because I find the phenomenon of life quite fascinating (and death is the intrinsic feature of life) - a matter that gradually became conscious of itself, a star material, reorganized, able to look back at the stars and say “That is the star.”, that is just…mindblowing, absolutely fascinating, even without any traces of religion.
As for the NDE, I just think that they are a product of a dying brain. As complex as it is, I can only imagine how such structure would react to the shock of dying.