The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
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30-05-2017, 08:06 AM (This post was last modified: 30-05-2017 09:38 AM by Cosmo.)
The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
(Edit: Some realizations have undermined the reasons why I have started this thread. I still think it is a conversation worth having though. I do not think spirituality is relegated only to the religious necessarily. Religion is, though. Tongue)

And so, to that end, I thought it might be fun to share views on spirituality, whether that's meditating regularly, practicing mindfulness or reflecting on our place in the Universe.

And of course, if you think it's all bull sputum (spirituality is only for the religious,) that viewpoint is also welcome.

I'll start.

I lost my belief in a deity, and initially felt lost, and, when I was alone in a room, I finally believed I was alone in a room. I found myself turn to reading scientific and historical literature almost obsessively, outside of the University lecture hall, likely as an attempt to make up for believing in lies for so long.

With this newfound taking off of my rose coloured glasses, I discovered that knowledge that is true gave me a deep sense of empowerment that I had never felt before. This while diminishing my sense of pride as I realized I was literally a speck on a rock, drifting through an endless ocean of stars and lights.

I realized that if any positive change was to have its effect on my life I had to do it.. There was no God to do it for me.

With that, came a fading of religious guilt, a sense of peace about human nature, a deeper awareness of my actions, and the practice of meditation, which has led to a sense of inner calm. I feel much more aware of the vibes I'm putting out, when I'm putting them out there.

Unless I start playing Call of Duty. Then I feel all good vibes giving way to frustration. Tongue

I'll add more as the thread progresses but yeah if you feel comfortable sharing what spirituality does or doesn't mean to you please fire away.

~ The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you ~
-Neil Degrasse Tyson
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30-05-2017, 08:13 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
I personally have never "believed" so may not but a good place to start, and I also don't believe there is a 'Spirit/soul' either.

However, in saying that, I do meditate/practice yoga as a method to calm my mind on occasion. I don't do this to feel spiritual, it's because I have anxiety issues and this calms me down a hell of a lot. I do think about our place in the universe (Totally random existence, with no purpose and will human life will probably end by chance via a comet or something....which is all amazing by the way) and how that works.

I can only ever look at things from a logical perspective, IE that there is no "soul", so I'm probably not the best person to comment on spirituality lol. I mentioned in the other thread, but I think some confuse being spiritual with just being super calm and not worrying about "human" issues all that much, which is the category I fall into. A realist chilled out human being Smile

"I don't do magic, Morty, I do science. One takes brains, the other takes dark eye liner" - Rick
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30-05-2017, 08:26 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
See I don't do any of those things to 'feel spiritual.' That is just a byproduct of me doing them. When people talk of the soul I think they're talking about the non-physical experiencing of their neurons firing. Material leads to an immaterial experience (consciousness,) or what I have heard termed, the ghost in the machine. When I do those things you mentioned, I feel something good in my consciousness, that affirms that what I did is good. It's the basic anatomy of the reward system, played out around concepts much higher on Maslow's Hierarchy. I think that's cool. Lol.

What I have noticed for myself is that my sense of spirituality diminished none when I left religion. It just turned far more humanistic, and left far more room for wonder. Whether it is natural or not doesn't make it less wonderful. I think that makes it even more fantastic in fact.

~ The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you ~
-Neil Degrasse Tyson
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30-05-2017, 08:30 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
And also yes, your chill factor seems high. Smile

~ The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you ~
-Neil Degrasse Tyson
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30-05-2017, 08:31 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
Spiritual studies are often adopted as a means of self-improvement. However, most spiritual systems offer such outdated and irrational notions of how we can be (and need to be) improved that we often make ourselves worse by trying to improve ourselves using such methods.

Naturalistic perspectives are more accurate, so their study can help us improve ourselves in real and attainable ways. Call it "spirituality" if you want. I prefer not to.
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30-05-2017, 08:39 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
Surely you're just feeling good, because in doing something you like, you body releases endorphins which then make you feel that "reward". I'm not arguing here, as I love yoga/meditation too, and they do make feel better also, but I don't associate that feeling with being spiritual.

Again I have all the awe/wonder anybody can (and should) have when learning about life/the universe, which is because it's so awesome, again making you feel good and so on.

If that's what you define as "spiritual" then that's cool, but I would just say it's "normal human feelings" that we all get, but for different reasons. For example: some music makes all my body hair stand on end, because I find it soooo beautiful/amazing, which some could say is spiritual or even orgasmic if you want to go that far, but I understand it's an emotion. I don't fully understand how that works, but I know it's caused by my body in reaction to something else.

"I don't do magic, Morty, I do science. One takes brains, the other takes dark eye liner" - Rick
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30-05-2017, 08:57 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
Yeah I think I likely am just calling profound experiences spiritual. That's how they often feel to me I suppose. Not sure what else to call them maybe? I experience them the same way I did when I was religious, just no god.

~ The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you ~
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30-05-2017, 09:14 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
Like OT, I don't believe in a spirit or a soul. I do believe in quieting my mind through meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques. In connecting with myself, I find a sense of calmness and inner peace. I also have incorporated yogic principles into my life, which I feel enhance my life. Being completely blissed out is my form of spirituality--when the whole wave of the outside world is calm within myself.

I also love being in nature-camping, hiking, ultralight backpacking, etc. Being outdoors and hiking miles into the woods in order to see a waterfall or sleeping under the stars--my version of spirituality. Granted, I don't believe a god or gods created the beauty of nature, but the beauty of nature is still awesome and in that pure, quiet space, when I'm either by myself or with someone special, I find peace just being surrounded by all of that.

Spirituality is defined as the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. So for me, whether camping under a blanket of stars or practicing yoga poses...connecting to my inner self in a quiet surrounding is my version of spirituality.
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30-05-2017, 09:23 AM (This post was last modified: 30-05-2017 09:30 AM by Cosmo.)
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
Quote:Like OT, I don't believe in a spirit or a soul. I do believe in quieting my mind through meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques. In connecting with myself, I find a sense of calmness and inner peace. I also have incorporated yogic principles into my life, which I feel enhance my life. Being completely blissed out is my form of spirituality--when the whole wave of the outside world is calm within myself.

I also love being in nature-camping, hiking, ultralight backpacking, etc. Being outdoors and hiking miles into the woods in order to see a waterfall or sleeping under the stars--my version of spirituality. Granted, I don't believe a god or gods created the beauty of nature, but the beauty of nature is still awesome and in that pure, quiet space, when I'm either by myself or with someone special, I find peace just being surrounded by all of that.

Spirituality is defined as the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. So for me, whether camping under a blanket of stars or practicing yoga poses...connecting to my inner self in a quiet surrounding is my version of spirituality.

You put that in very lovely terms. Smile

I don't believe in a soul, but I think that immaterial part of your consciousness is what people are referencing when they refer to it. Edit: That is to say, the part of you that is experiencing all the stimuli, and having thoughts. If they're not then I don't know what they're talking about 'cos the electrical part of you that somehow preludes consciousness is the only thing that I could reconcile being anywhere near something of a soul.

That's why I like that term, ghost in the machine. I think that's a good explanation for it.

~ The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you ~
-Neil Degrasse Tyson
[Image: stairway_to_heaven_by_tomtr.png]
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30-05-2017, 10:32 AM
RE: The Ghost In The Machine - Atheism and Spirituality
The thing that was the final nail in the religion coffin for me was the realization that there was no soul, no "ghost in the machine"; that life, rather than being something like a substance, is actually a process.

It's not like a hand fitting into a glove, and when you remove the hand, the glove "dies."

It's more like a flame which needs oxygen, fuel and heat. Remove one (or more) of those inputs and the process of fire - the flame - simply stops. It doesn't go anywhere, it just ceases to be.

Which reminds me of a scene from one of my favourite movies:

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