Can an atheist be spiritual?
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17-01-2012, 02:48 PM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
(17-01-2012 02:28 PM)germanyt Wrote:  Is that not a form of symbolism and not so much spiritualism?

If one doesn't attach any belief to one's symbols, then one won't attach any belief to being "spiritual".

I don't. I don't attach any kind of belief or faith to ... my avatar ... an elaborately decorated hand displaying a "peace sign". Could be a gang sign for all I care. But I do like the idea of peace, so it's my avatar pic. And I like hands.
Could change... I might decide on another hand gesture. [Image: 097.gif]

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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17-01-2012, 03:23 PM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
(17-01-2012 02:10 PM)kineo Wrote:  In order to call yourself a Christian you actually have to accept and believe that Jesus was who the Bible says he was and that he died for your sins to save you from damnation.

That has been falsified by the Pauline Israelite agenda. I'm assumed to be a Christian, I'm accepted by Christians; I can more Pauline Israelites - can even make money at it. Big Grin

There ain't the point. When I get the Blue Suns agenda up and running, people will have an identifier. Wink

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17-01-2012, 03:52 PM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
(17-01-2012 01:53 PM)germanyt Wrote:  I think that to define yourself as spiritual you would actually have to believe that lighting the candle is doing something supernatural.
I don't think so. Not everyone sees the word "spiritual" as something religious.
The spirit is also defined as enthusiasm and it also refers to something/someone being conscious.
And I see it just like that.
Taking the example with lighting a candle again.
As I said there is not religious belief attached for me.
I am conscious about something when I do that. I think about a person, I reflect, etc. Or I am enthusiastic when I have a candle on my birthday cake.
See where I am going?
That's what I wrote earlier about taking the word out of the religious context.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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17-01-2012, 05:18 PM (This post was last modified: 17-01-2012 05:28 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
I am a spiritual atheist. Watch and learn Wink

Seriously, as far as definitions, thinking and behavior is concerned, I'm an atheist. I don't want to worship or be worshipped and I believe only in what I can see and/or hold in my hands. (what things I actually saw and held, that is a different question altogether) Plus I believe in what some strangers in white coats discovered somewhere far away from here. (calm down Chas, just joking)
Well, I do often meditate in a group of friends and before that meditation we recite an invocation that does involve the G-word. But the G-word is mean in pantheistic sense, as a sum of the universe's matter, energy and laws governing them both. And it's part of the prescribed ritual.

People who didn't notice if they're spiritual want to pin down the spirituality or define it. Sure, why not. The definition may change every couple hundred years, but for now it's stable enough.
To be spiritual can mean to see and feel (and behave as) the world as interconnected beyond the obvious causality. Feel the world as a part of your country, your home, your room, yourself. Feel the disorder in the world as your own problem. Don't try to calculate, rationalize or justify this connection, because if you're spiritual, you'd feel like that even if it's unprovable. Even if you don't believe in reincarnation and returning to this world, you should want to leave it in a better shape than you found it.

To be spiritual means has a lot to do with purpose. Whatever the purpose is, you believe it must be a good one, one that will lead to developing our potential AND living harmoniously with the surroundings, natural or social. You won't just say "Life has no meaning, you can make up <insert any useless nonsense> and call it your meaning." Nope, if you're spiritual, that will sound just wrong to you. Spirituality is about searching for a purpose or meaning in life, whether a given one or artificial, but it must be a good one, because we need it.

To be spiritual means to make peace with death. Leaving metaphysics aside, many people do crazy things to postpone death medically and hold onto life at all costs and try to save their material property. That is not spiritual.
Of course I don't want to die and probably will do almost anything to save my ass, but that's because I'm young and have hell a lot to do ahead of me. But on my deathbed there shouldn't be any foolish emotional scenes. What, you want me to stay old forever?


I think we can pretty much agree on the above. But now I crank up the craziness engine. Most of non-spiritual people think of reality as a Cartesian machine. A nudges B, B nudges C, C nudges D. A cannot nudge C (because of the lack of neighbourhood) and C cannot nudge A (because of the order of things). Plus somewhere down on quantum level there is a perfect invisible random generator of "white noise" of events, that statistically covers all sorts of random stuff happening and therefore there are many coincidences in the world, but from which we can't derive any meaning whatsoever, that would be crazy and superstitious. By that measure China would be a cursed nation, for the sheer number of weird news that come from there. But nope, it's only a very large nation and the law of large numbers (plus plentiful release of mutagenous toxins into nature) does the rest. Similarly we can't suppose there are alien space craft in the sky, because the sky is vast and therefore the number of random things happening in it is vast and among this number there must be random phenomena looking like flying saucers or Buddha-shaped clouds. Their number is relatively insignificant, well-within the error margin of the number of times a random human looks at the sky and sees nothing significant.
Yes, that is a deliberate parody of what you think. I could write it precisely, but it's more fun that way. FSM help you if you actually agree with this.

Well, and a spiritual person may very typically think, that the universe is only partially Cartesian. In fact, such people rather think that the non-Cartesian part of the universe is like 95% and the Cartesian part is like the cold, hard, flat surface of your CRT monitor. It's right in front of you, it's visible, tangible and impenetrable. But it's the universe of effects, not of causes. The universe of causes is beyond. You can either stay a plaything of pseudo-random output on the Cartesian surface, or you can try to get beyond the layer of coincidence and act in the universe of causes, so that the output of events that comes is tilted in your favor. You ride the wave of coincidences, created by you, make your own luck. Just how exactly non-Cartesian the universe is, on that opinions vary greatly.
And this is where most of people lose their mind to various New Age self-help books. To find a truly spiritual person who can stay rational beyond this point is rare. Let's say they don't think about it, but live their life doing intuitively what I just described, that's often the case. If you meet one, congratulations, you've met a spiritual atheist Wink
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17-01-2012, 05:34 PM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
Does taking a stance on A make me unable to endorse B which may or may not include A.

I think most anyone is smart enough to think out the answer to that equation.

hint: The answer is no.
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17-01-2012, 09:01 PM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
(17-01-2012 03:52 PM)Leela Wrote:  I don't think so. Not everyone sees the word "spiritual" as something religious.
The spirit is also defined as enthusiasm and it also refers to something/someone being conscious.
And I see it just like that.
Taking the example with lighting a candle again.
As I said there is not religious belief attached for me.

To me these are just more examples of trivializing the word spiritual, and I'm left wondering why people want to define non-spiritual things as spiritual. What do you get by using that word as a descriptor for lighting a candle, being enthusiastic or being conscious? To me it's akin to defining god as "the universe" to avoid saying one doesn't believe in god. God isn't the universe. The universe is the universe. Likewise, lighting a candle may be comforting (it is to me too), but I don't see how it meets the non-corporeal quality of spiritual.
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17-01-2012, 09:11 PM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
(17-01-2012 11:32 AM)ddrew Wrote:  I'd like to say that ... i've got a spiritual connection with beer...

After wading through this thread, I used to have a spiritual connection with beer and then I took the diabetes to the knee, now it's tequila and vodka.

Spiritual is an undefinable ineffable term. It's up to you.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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18-01-2012, 10:08 AM (This post was last modified: 18-01-2012 10:12 AM by 89ace.)
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
I'm surprised that this thread received this much attention. As a new member, I had figured that it would be overlooked, but apparently a lot of people had this on their minds too given the number of responses.

Personally, I do have some traditions that carried over from my religious life such as celebrating Christmas (*cough Pagan holiday), ect... One of my favorite things that my family did and I still do to this day is set out a plate on Halloween and just light a candle on the plate to show ancestors that they are welcomed into our home. It is incredibly comforting and I see it more as a tradition of remembrance, reflection of those who have passed, and I believe that it was carried-over from older Pagan traditions in my family from long ago. We talk during dinner about our dead relatives and such on Halloween, leave pictures out, and such. It is silly, but some things just do carry over whether they make sense or not.

In terms of my "spiritual" atheism, I don't believe in God. I do however have this enormous sense of purpose and it seems to take the form of a great appreciation of nature, probably something new age-y, but I don't see it as the work of some deity. I see it as it just is - pure beauty and pure existence. It's hard to explain. I do meditate and it has helped me get through some rough patches and helped me focus on goals. When I was a deist, I had always thought that life was beautiful, but when I first came out as atheist, my emotional bond towards life and nature in general suddenly became like switching from black and white to HD. I became stronger in a sense spiritually as an atheist than I was when I was a deist or Lutheran. I use the term spiritual for lack of a better word and it just seems to fit. Life is beautiful to me and it is so precious. To quote another poster... we are all stardust and we are all connected, breathe the same air, ect... I don't see how that makes someone less of an atheist.

Now, in terms of my attendance to the Unitarian Church, I believe that I go because of that longing for community. It's nice to be a part of something and I guess I can tolerate the Unitarian Church because their work doesn't really focus on scripture, and it seems more like a place of philosophy. Unlike a lot atheists, I don't take such an aggressive stance against religion. It is a part of our past, and I think that it's nice sometimes to know what we once believed. I guess that's why I'm so fascinated in Greek mythology too. It would be nice if more people started looking at Christianity and Islam as mythology but that's a whole new discussion right there. It's probably more anecdotal why I attend a Unitarian Church. It keeps my family somewhat-happy too, even if they cringe at the fact I'm not attending a Lutheran church =p
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18-01-2012, 11:12 AM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
Thanks for coming back 89ace, I was beginning to think you were going to pull a post-and-run. Being around for the discussion is important to be able to answer questions.

With regard to viewing religion as mythology, I completely agree. If we could get people to look at the Bible as we view Aesop's Fables then we'd be in a good place. But this doesn't happen and we have too many fundies pushing a political and religious agendas, selling fear, brainwashing children, and pushing condemnation and guilt upon everyone around them. This is the anti-theism and strong stance that many of us take against religion. If we could simply appreciate it for being part of our past that would be very nice, but unfortunately it also has a dreadful past full of war, violence, and torture. Many of us welcome the day when religion is simply a fable to be studied from a distance. With people leaving their religious pasts in droves, we hope that day is coming.
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18-01-2012, 01:49 PM
RE: Can an atheist be spiritual?
Define spiritual. There seem to be several understandings of 'spiritual' - almost as many as there are posts in this thread.Big Grin

Do I get feelings of awe and wonder when contemplating nature? Yes.
Is that spirituality?

I don't believe in any spirit, soul, or any kind of dualism.
Is that non-spiritual?

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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