An Atheist Spirituality?
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21-10-2013, 04:16 AM
An Atheist Spirituality?
When I was asked by one of the users here 'what type of Christian are you?' I was a bit taken aback, because then I thought 'is there more than one kind of atheist?' I've read so many different views on what spirituality is and can you have it if you don't believe in God, that I thought I'd ask what people here think.

If we choose to define spirituality as the search for something sacred in our lives- whether that be God, the universe, the connection between humans (eg. between mother and child, love, etc), or the meaning of life; Basically anything that takes us out of existing just as a biological being- do you believe that you can be spiritual without being religious?

I was wanting to know:
- What is your definition of spirituality?
- Why do you/ don't you think an atheist can be spiritual?
- If you reject spirituality as a concept, how would you define the search for meaning/ connection in our lives?
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21-10-2013, 04:41 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
You could be one of those flower-fairy types who believes in spirits and nature but add that you believe that there is no overall God or something I suppose, that way you can be a spiritual atheist.

1. Spirituality to me == mysticism. Vague fluff based feel good stuff about how the universe actually does like us or whatever.

2. Atheists can be fluffy if they want - only requirement to be an atheist is to not believe in a God.

3. I find meaning in my life from lots of stuff (e.g. love), but I don't need to be all coy about it and call it spirituality, 'cos it at no point involves mysticism.

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21-10-2013, 06:07 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
To be 'spiritual' one must fist believe in a spirit. Most Atheists do not, but there are some that do.

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21-10-2013, 06:11 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
Spirituality: it can make you rich if you know how to work it or it can keep you poor in more ways than one. Can't say they can't. I find way more meaning by not preying upon people claiming to have "magic healing hands" or being a prick like John Edwards. People who do those things are distant from their connection with people as they are interested in only the money, not the person. I reject the "spirituality" people employ to gain from the unhappiness of others.

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21-10-2013, 07:26 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
I don't know much about spirituality but read Ethics: Origin and Development. It's about ethics and morality. Very interesting book.
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21-10-2013, 09:25 AM (This post was last modified: 21-10-2013 10:23 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
(21-10-2013 04:16 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  When I was asked by one of the users here 'what type of Christian are you?' I was a bit taken aback, because then I thought 'is there more than one kind of atheist?' I've read so many different views on what spirituality is and can you have it if you don't believe in God, that I thought I'd ask what people here think.

If we choose to define spirituality as the search for something sacred in our lives- whether that be God, the universe, the connection between humans (eg. between mother and child, love, etc), or the meaning of life; Basically anything that takes us out of existing just as a biological being- do you believe that you can be spiritual without being religious?

I was wanting to know:
- What is your definition of spirituality?
- Why do you/ don't you think an atheist can be spiritual?
- If you reject spirituality as a concept, how would you define the search for meaning/ connection in our lives?

There are indeed a lot of different kinds of atheist. New atheist versus... well, vanilla atheist. Agnostic atheist versus gnostic atheist. There's about half a dozen different overlapping definitions of the word atheist floating around before you even apply modifiers, and under one of the broader definitions (anyone who is not a theist, ie, does not believe in an actively intervening personal god), a deist or pantheist would count as an atheist.

As for spirituality, I don't have much respect for the word and I try to avoid it. It's the sort of word that can mean just about anything to just about anyone, and at the end of the day the result is that the word itself doesn't really mean anything. It literally lacks definition. The concepts it might be meant to represent, I don't necessarily have a problem with those, but the word doesn't help me understand that those concepts are what's being represented.

Similarly, I can't really use your definition, because it hinges on the notion of things that are sacred, and that word suffers from the same problem. I might or might not agree with the concept you're trying to convey with the word, but the word's been overused to represent too many differing concepts for me to know which concept you're trying to represent with it.

The only thing I really think takes us out of existence as a biological being is death, and I'm in no hurry to find that. If you're talking about some other plane of existence totally apart from the universe we live in, I don't buy it and I've got no use for it. I'm quite happy in this universe, thank you, even if it does need a bit of improvement. But it sounds like... and now I'm interpreting... that you're talking about a pursuit of awe and wonder, or a sense of being part of something greater than ourselves, or something that emotionally catches us up so that we don't focus on the everyday. I have a great deal of respect for this, but I see it as part of our biological existence, as arising from the way our brains are arranged and our endorphins triggered, rather than in spite of it. It doesn't speak just to the virtues of what's beyond our bodies, but also the amazing virtues of the body itself.

If this counts as part of what you mean by spirituality, I pursue it in lots of ways. Music or a good novel can catch me up emotionally, or pursuing creative endeavors. A nice hike in the forest or sitting and watching the ocean for a bit can lull me into thoughts that are less in-the-moment and more free-flowing. Science and what it reveals about the world around us is incredibly fascinating. Dreams, quite often. Connectivity I can pursue through being part of any group effort or just hanging out with friends. (Meaning is another one of those words which lack meaning. Ironic.) Acts of charity or activism shift my mental focus from my own needs and focuses it on the needs of other individuals or society at large. The Unitarian-Universalists have a concept I love, "The interdependent web of existence". To feel part of a larger world, I just focus on a tiny piece of my own world... say laptop I'm typing on right now... and try to imagine all the people and things that have touched it in one way or another, and then in turn imagine everything that those people and things have been affected by, and so on. The workers in the factories, the inventors and the engineers, the people who produced the raw materials used in the factors, all spread out across the world, the programmers of the software, all the other people in the world using similar programs, the power I'm drawing and all the things that goes into getting that out of my wall socket. It's a powerful thing to reflect upon, and its impact expands exponentially when I contemplate that I can apply it to pretty much anything in my life. The fiver I use to pay for tea at a coffee shop, for example, or the road I drive on.

Anyhow, hope I figured out your questions right and that I answered them.
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21-10-2013, 09:33 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
A lot of atheists express something that you might call "spiritual", though most tend to avoid that term because of the religious connotations.

Richard Dawkins describes himself as a "deeply religious non-believer"...

For me, spirituality (if that's what you want to call it), is anything that moves me... whether its music, the universe or other people. Anyone with emotions is capable of feeling "spiritual".

I believe (and I'm sure many on here would agree), that the question "what is the meaning of life?" is meaningless in itself.... The real question should be "what is the meaning of your life?"

The meaning of your life is based on whatever is important to you... Family, friends, hobbies etc.

This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree; but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom... - The Ghost of Christmas Present.
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21-10-2013, 10:00 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
(21-10-2013 04:16 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  When I was asked by one of the users here 'what type of Christian are you?' I was a bit taken aback, because then I thought 'is there more than one kind of atheist?' I've read so many different views on what spirituality is and can you have it if you don't believe in God, that I thought I'd ask what people here think.

If we choose to define spirituality as the search for something sacred in our lives- whether that be God, the universe, the connection between humans (eg. between mother and child, love, etc), or the meaning of life; Basically anything that takes us out of existing just as a biological being- do you believe that you can be spiritual without being religious?

I was wanting to know:
- What is your definition of spirituality?
- Why do you/ don't you think an atheist can be spiritual?
- If you reject spirituality as a concept, how would you define the search for meaning/ connection in our lives?

Spiritualism is simply your brain thinking sublime thoughts. Nothing more.

"If things aren't funny anymore then they're exactly what they are and life is just one long dental appointment interrupted occasionally by something exciting like waiting or falling asleep" Jason Robards in A Thousand Clowns
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21-10-2013, 10:04 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
To me it just means free flowing thought, not tethered to the here and now.

Like mentioned by someone here before, music and nature do it for me, too. Or grilling, it's peaceful and quiet and the surroundings are pleasant... and I have had some of my best ideas there, just standing there gazing out over the garden..

I have never thought to call this "spirituality", but yes, it comes about as close to what I could call spiritual as I get.

Sometimes it is introspection, sometimes thoughts just flow aimlessly about, sometimes a current work issue or something that needs to be planned comes to the surface. It is a very calm, peaceful state with no urgency. I have done some good thinking that way.

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21-10-2013, 10:14 AM
RE: An Atheist Spirituality?
(21-10-2013 10:04 AM)Dom Wrote:  To me it just means free flowing thought, not tethered to the here and now.

Like mentioned by someone here before, music and nature do it for me, too. Or grilling, it's peaceful and quiet and the surroundings are pleasant... and I have had some of my best ideas there, just standing there gazing out over the garden..

I have never thought to call this "spirituality", but yes, it comes about as close to what I could call spiritual as I get.

Sometimes it is introspection, sometimes thoughts just flow aimlessly about, sometimes a current work issue or something that needs to be planned comes to the surface. It is a very calm, peaceful state with no urgency. I have done some good thinking that way.

I would heartily agree that grilling is spiritual. Yes

"It's a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.”
― نجيب محفوظ, Sugar Street
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