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Thread: Spirituality - "spiritual but not religious"? "atheist spirituality"?

  1. Top | #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    I think religion-free spirituality is largely a game of semantics. If you dispense with theism, religion, notions of the supernatural, and other faith based beliefs (like that there is any "meaning" other than what living creatures feel), then everything that is left can be more accurately described without ever referring to "spirituality". Most of it is just psychology, self awareness, and little more than finding something the makes you happy and motivates you. I think many atheists who use the term are just being defensive and trying to make it sound like they are not simply a materialist, when they actually are. There's a fear that it seems selfish and shallow not to be at least "spiritual", when that's just a cover for making one's own desires and interests seem "bigger" and more important than they are. It's somewhat like many people's efforts to pretend they care about "high art" more than they really do, b/c they feel ashamed to just admit that they think a good meatball sub and a beer is more worthy of pursuit and give life as much "meaning" as great piece of theatre. Basically, hedonism has been shamed as "lowly", but that just classist nonsense.
    I agree with many of your points. I've never referred to myself as a spiritual atheist. But, there are many things in life that do bring joy, and emotional satisfaction. At this point in my life, I don't take things nearly as seriously as I did when I was younger. So, if an atheist prefers to use the word "spiritual" to describe the joyous or highly emotional things in life, that's fine with me. And, I was mostly having a little fun here by saying that maybe I'm more spiritual. than I knew, unless we are now going to define spirituality as something related to brain chemistry, endorphins, etc.

    I think I Just prefer the word Joy. Maybe I should refer to myself as a joyous atheist, as I've learned to detach myself from the horrors of life, long enough to experience the joys of life. It's not that I don't care about what's happening in the world, or that I don't love all of my very needy friends. I do. But I also allow myself time to simply enjoy the things that satisfy me on a very emotional level. If that makes sense. I have plenty of time to support my friends and worry about the state of the world. And, I realize that I will most likely experience emotional hardship and pain before my life is over, unless I unexpectedly die suddenly before that happens.

    But, I will steal a line that I think came from one of the Baha'i prayers, "I will not dwell on the unpleasant things in life".

  2. Top | #32
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    An atheist does not have to be spiritual. One can be any one of many -isms, -ists, and -uals.

  3. Top | #33
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    Devout atheist here. Love music, landscapes, lit, film, Bruegel, standup comedy, good coffee, Shoo-Fly pie, English accents, the expressions on a dachshund's face...and I wouldn't cheapen any of it by labeling it 'spiritual'. If I did, I'd feel the need to buy incense and play rain-forest music or the pan-pipes of the Andes. And then it would really be nap time.

  4. Top | #34
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    I guess I'll chime in again with my repititi0ous response.

    Atheist in itself implies no particular belief other than a rejection of deities.

    Many atheists enjoy yoga by standing on their heads. Some believe in the supernatural.

    Atheists can and do have myths, so what is the point?

    The main atheist - Christian theist difference is atheist are not on a mission from a god to convert the world.

  5. Top | #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Many atheists enjoy yoga by standing on their heads. Some believe in the supernatural.
    I'd say lots of atheists believe in the supernatural, very likely a majority on a global level. Further, lots of atheists believe in various pseudosciences. Strongly secular France is a stronghold for opposition to GMOs. Germany, which admittedly has some variation in religiousity between its states, but who houses "the atheist capital of Europe", is in thrall with homeopathy and has a fear of nuclear power that is not supported by science.

  6. Top | #36
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    "The Rapid Dying of Religion (and the Rise of a Universal Spirituality)"
    When Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stepped away from identifying himself with any organized religion and instead asserted that “My spirituality is that we are all in this together,” he became the first major political figure to identify himself as a practitioner of the growing “spiritual but not religious” mindset in America. Sanders thus brought to national attention a cultural minority that, if present trends continue, will not be a minority much longer.
    The numbers:
    In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace | Pew Research Center
    From 2007 to 2019:
    • Unaffiliated: 16% - 26%
    • Xian: 78% - 65%

    Approximately linear. Looking at the generations, younger ones are less affiliated than older ones.

    Back to "Rapid Dying", even if it is actually a very slow death, instead of something as fast as the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

    From numbers collected 10 years before this 2018 article: 7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America
    As writer Kelly Shattuck revealed in "7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America," the number of people who actually go to church regularly is likely much lower than those who say they do: "Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church — half of what the pollsters report." Shattuck continues:

    "Numbers from actual counts of people in Orthodox Christian churches (Catholic, mainline and evangelical) show that in 2004, 17.7 percent of the population attended a Christian church on any given weekend. Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler — known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up [these] findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshipping each week is closer to [the] 17.7 percent figure — 52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent)."
    If anything, the numbers are now likely even lower.

  7. Top | #37
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    "The Rapid Dying of Religion (and the Rise of a Universal Spirituality)"

    It continues with the increase of the number Spiritual But Not Religious people - like an estimate of 72% of Millennials being SBNR.

    But what do SBNR people tend believe? That article proposes several beliefs.

    • A reorientation of belief in a God "out there" to experience of the "God within." - Instead of some Ruler of the Universe separate from us, some "higher self" within us. Instead of trying to end up in Heaven and not Hell after one dies, Heaven and Hell are some things that one can experience in this world. - "Religion is for those who are afraid of going to hell; spirituality is for those who have been there."
    • A release of guilt and the belief in "original sin" in favor of advanced self-awareness and transcendent forgiveness. - "Original sin" is a traditional Xian thing, something not shared with its Abrahamic cousins Judaism or Islam.
    • The replacement of church-administered religious rituals like confession and Communion with spiritual technologies such as meditation, vision quests, and transformative disciplines.
    • The release of religion's traditional hostility to science and psychology in favor of a multi-disciplinary view of reality. - it's more anti-disliked-science than anti-science in general. Says that "Christianity has also shown a lesser hostility toward psychology and related self-help philosophies." More conservative versions of it, maybe. But I find it curious that it isn't a very big issue, since modern psychology strikes very close to home.
    • The surrender of social moralism and religious discrimination in favor of social justice and a universal spirituality. - "Perhaps most distasteful to the younger generation of Millennials who are rapidly abandoning conventional Christianity is the fundamentalist tendency toward dictating sexual and social morals — as well as promising damnation and an eternal afterlife in hell if Christianity is not accepted as the 'one true religion.'" Liberal Xians will protest that that is not what their religion is, but they don't try very hard to challenge the fundies.

    The author concedes that "One can just as easily find elements of SBNR in progressive Christianity as one can find strains of fundamentalism in some extremes of New Age cultism." and he notes Sam Harris's book "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion." As a SBNR practitioner, he proposes:
    • Have I become more at peace within myself and in my relationships since undertaking my chosen spiritual discipline?
    • Do I blame less and have more compassion about my own difficulties and those of others?
    • Do I progressively experience more joy, empathy, and revelatory insight?
    • Is my social and political conscience more informed and effective, regardless of how my forms of activism may have changed?
    • Do I sometimes tap transcendent state of consciousness through the natural means of my own trained and focused awareness?

  8. Top | #38
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    My favorite book about atheism is "Atheism for Dummies". I've attended two lectures by the author and told him personally how much I appreciate his book. I will have to type some of his comments about atheism and spirituality.

    He refers to flow state as something that happens when you become totally engrossed in an activity. He equates that to spirituality, which he claims doesn't have to be related to religion.

    He then goes on to talk about "natural wonder".

    . Many people feel that a worldview without God must be cold and devoid of wonder. But people who've left religion often say exactly the opposite. Not that religion keeps a person from marveling at a sunset or a newborn baby, of course. But these new naturalists often find that discovering about the natural process behind such wonders give a deeper and more profound appreciation of just how very wonderful they are---one much more astonishing than "God did it".
    I agree with that as one who was raised with religion, a very narrow minded variety of Christianity, but who became an atheist during early adulthood. It was literally an exhilarating, happy experience to no longer think that people who didn't believe like me were being harshly judged by a magical, all power entity, so to borrow a Biblical phrase, the truth did set me free.

    He then goes on to list many things that give us a sense of awe or wonder. He says that understanding how something works or happens doesn't kill wonder.

    Here's a few more lines.

    Realizing that I'm an animal doesn't make me want to "act like an animal"--it makes me feel a deep kinship with other living things. That's one of the greatest implications of a worldview informed by evolution.
    He also discusses how nonbelievers have the opportunity to do good works, to love others, etc. That may be more of a humanist message but I understand the points the author makes. He explains that while there are many Christians who do live their lives caring for others, there are also many who will simply use the "I'll pray for you", but then not do anything else to help the person in need.

    To me, there is no greater satisfaction than what we experience when helping or loving others. It's also great to be loved. And, it's easiest to receive love and appreciation when you give it to others. We are certainly not the only animals who experiences love. Right now, there is a little cuddly dog sleeping next to me. I know that she loves me and I love her. And just like a human child, she can become very emotional and demanding. No wonder humans are so attracted to dogs and frequently think of them as their family. But, I digress. I'm not suggesting that dogs are spiritual, but they certainly are awesome companions.

    While I never thought of describing this as spiritual, I can understand how that word can be appropriately used to describe how we feel when we help others, when we experience strong happy emotions, awe or become totally immersed in an activity that we enjoy. On the other hand, there are plenty of other ways to describe these things, but I will never again think negatively of the concept of spiritual atheism.

  9. Top | #39
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    "The Rapid Dying of Religion (and the Rise of a Universal Spirituality)"
    When Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stepped away from identifying himself with any organized religion and instead asserted that “My spirituality is that we are all in this together,” he became the first major political figure to identify himself as a practitioner of the growing “spiritual but not religious” mindset in America. Sanders thus brought to national attention a cultural minority that, if present trends continue, will not be a minority much longer.
    ...
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    ... I will never again think negatively of the concept of spiritual atheism.
    Well at least there seems to be something you and Bernie can agree on.

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