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Atheism and spirituality.


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Hey guys,

 

I'm a relatively new member. I've come to find most of the normal members here to be a bunch of very laid back, easy going guys. I probably come across as kind of strange to some of you here. All I can say is that I'm sorry for that.

 

To the point, I see many threads here about religion, but none tackling the question of spirituality as it relates to atheism. Since I understand atheism to be mostly the rejection of claims that assert the existence of god(s), rather than the positive view that there is no supernatural realm or god(s). By this definition, I would consider myself an atheist. There are some popular atheists who claim to be highly spiritual (or at least interested in spiritual experience). Sam Harris comes to mind.

 

I just wanted to start up a conversation to see what the members here think. If you wouldn't mind, if you answer, please state where you stand as far as whether or not you are an atheist/theist/religious/non-religious/deist/etc.

 

I'm waiting to hear your views!

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Threads don't get deleted. It's a database. At most, they are hidden via the GUI. Threads connect to the profile of everyone who's contributed. They connect to the view count everyone who's clicked.

It works for Buddhists. Meditation has a spiritual aspect, but you don't need spirituality to be at peace, you just need to be content with your lot.

You definitely don't think of atheism the way I do. The first sentence of yours I quoted claims it can be quantified, and the second attempts to do so. I think of god(s) the same way I think of stamp

Can you give us a definition of 'spirituality' as that would simplify discussion ?

My definition is 'something abstract that gives you hope despite evidence and facts'.

And that is something we may all need t some time or another.

 

That is provided for some ( quite a few actually ) by religion. And that's the good part of religion.

The bad part is, of course, the centuries of baggage and outmoded thinking that it brings with it.

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Hey guys,

 

I'm a relatively new member. I've come to find most of the normal members here to be a bunch of very laid back, easy going guys. I probably come across as kind of strange to some of you here. All I can say is that I'm sorry for that.

 

To the point, I see many threads here about religion, but none tackling the question of spirituality as it relates to atheism. Since I understand atheism to be mostly the rejection of claims that assert the existence of god(s), rather than the positive view that there is no supernatural realm or god(s). By this definition, I would consider myself an atheist. There are some popular atheists who claim to be highly spiritual (or at least interested in spiritual experience). Sam Harris comes to mind.

 

I just wanted to start up a conversation to see what the members here think. If you wouldn't mind, if you answer, please state where you stand as far as whether or not you are an atheist/theist/religious/non-religious/deist/etc.

 

I'm waiting to hear your views!

 

Thank God there's no reference to low intelligence :) I looked up the definition of "spiritual" on an American website, because you know that the UK and America are two countries divided by a common language, so I wanted to be certain that we are talking about the same thing. Here it is:

 

 

Simple Definition of spiritual
  • : of or relating to a person's spirit

  • : of or relating to religion or religious beliefs

  • : having similar values and ideas : related or joined in spirit

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spiritual

I think that you know that I believe in a soul and that the soul, by its actions which affect others then reaches spiritual evolution through life until the final reward, or punishment. I am a Theist with personal opinions outside the mainstream.

 

Another opinion, no-one is wholly atheistic or totally a believer. Even Richard Dawkins is probably about 99% atheistic.

 

Interesting topic.

Edited by jimmydasaint
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I think that you know that I believe in a soul and that the soul, by its actions which affect others then reaches spiritual evolution through life until the final reward, or punishment. I am a Theist with personal opinions outside the mainstream.

 

 

In your case "the mainstream" is theism, I'm intrigued, how far can a theist stray from the mainstream?

Another opinion, no-one is wholly atheistic or totally a believer. Even Richard Dawkins is probably about 99% atheistic.

 

 

That's the point of atheism, if god pops up we'll concede.

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In your case "the mainstream" is theism, I'm intrigued, how far can a theist stray from the mainstream?

 

 

That's the point of atheism, if god pops up we'll concede.

I don't know if mainstream is the right word but religious institutions are not for me. Too many people have been bogged down/dragged down by dogmatism and insistence on the rituals of religion. I want to worship an intelligence that can create a Universe with my tiny part in it. I don't think that there needs to be a priest as a middleman.

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Why not try a different tack?

 

Worship the universe anyway.

 

A priest was originally intended as a teacher not a middleman and what they were trying to teach is how to be at peace with yourself, in my opinion.


Why does the universe, or your part in it, need more?

Edited by dimreepr
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How does one define spirituality? I agree there's a sense of awe, wonder, connectedness, and even a wonderful, ethereal, numinous nature to nature and the cosmos itself...

 

But WTH is spirituality? It's one of those catch-all woo words that seems to mean different things to different people (ask 7 different people what spiritual means and you'll get 7 different answers).

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How does one define spirituality? I agree there's a sense of awe, wonder, connectedness, and even a wonderful, ethereal, numinous nature to nature and the cosmos itself...

 

But WTH is spirituality? It's one of those catch-all woo words that seems to mean different things to different people (ask 7 different people what spiritual means and you'll get 7 different answers).

 

 

Indeed:

 

For me spirituality is just an example of piety; look at me I must be so great, to be able to see/know/understand more than you, IOW na na na na na :P and all that implies.

Edited by dimreepr
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Another opinion, no-one is wholly atheistic or totally a believer. Even Richard Dawkins is probably about 99% atheistic.

 

You definitely don't think of atheism the way I do. The first sentence of yours I quoted claims it can be quantified, and the second attempts to do so. I think of god(s) the same way I think of stamp collecting. I'm not against people collecting stamps, it's just not something I give any credence to. It's not part of my life because it offers me nothing I can't get elsewhere. If some enormous revelation about stamp collecting presented a rational reason why I should suddenly embrace it, I'd check it out, but until then, I just don't collect stamps.

 

Spirituality, to me, is a focus on the connectedness of the various pieces of my life, including the lives of those I encounter. I can easily forget about everything except my own immediate concerns, and just walk through my days doing what I need to do. But when I slow down and take in the circumstances like weather or traffic and how it's affecting the moods around me, and focus more on other people while still keeping my own objectives in mind, I'm open to a whole new experience that gives a much more fulfilling, layered, interesting perspective on living in a human society.

 

I have to admit to some weird, irrational behavior I'd lump under spirituality. I like seeing people smile, so I engineer little incidents that cause good feelings. For instance, when going to the supermarket, I park far out for the exercise, and I also watch for people unloading carts into their cars. I'm getting good at spotting those who're close to finishing, and timing my steps to reach their car as their cart is empty. I walk up, flash my own smile, and say "Your timing is perfect!" as I reach to take their cart back to the store for them. The mixture of pleasure, pride, gratitude, and friendliness I see on their faces is awesome. And it gives me a lasting sense of interconnectedness and hope.

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I have to admit to some weird, irrational behavior I'd lump under spirituality. I like seeing people smile, so I engineer little incidents that cause good feelings. For instance, when going to the supermarket, I park far out for the exercise, and I also watch for people unloading carts into their cars. I'm getting good at spotting those who're close to finishing, and timing my steps to reach their car as their cart is empty. I walk up, flash my own smile, and say "Your timing is perfect!" as I reach to take their cart back to the store for them. The mixture of pleasure, pride, gratitude, and friendliness I see on their faces is awesome. And it gives me a lasting sense of interconnectedness and hope.

 

Indeed, but those that reward the smile with a frown, deserves our pity.

Edited by dimreepr
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And you're all welcome to it.

 

The smile is pretty good, though. It's here if you need it.

 

 

I'm surprised, doesn't the frown deserve to be turned upside-down?

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Another opinion, no-one is wholly atheistic or totally a believer. Even Richard Dawkins is probably about 99% atheistic.

It just depends on how you use atheism. To me, it means lack of belief, so I'm wholly atheist by that model. I think what Dawkins meant to convey by this is that he is not certain that there is no god. Neither am I, which is why I'm atheist, not antitheist.

 

Getting to the point of the thread though, I do see some merit to the idea that, since our brains are responsible for all the experiences people attribute to souls, atheists are just as likely to have spiritual experiences as anyone else, or to lead a life wherein one looks for these types of insights.

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I think of god(s) the same way I think of stamp collecting. I'm not against people collecting stamps

Same here. But more specifically, I think of the God of Abraham in the same way I think of Zeus or Poseidon. There are likely some people in the world who think these gods mean something profound to their lives, and may well wonder how a person can possibly live or have objective morality or satisfaction without them. Since there are numerous religions that make this claim, and none that are willing to take on the burden of presenting good evidence for these assertions, I'm left with having to dismiss them and trying to understand happiness and other aspects of human experience in naturalistic terms. I find that the natural world offers much more compelling evidence and explanations for these things, rather than asserting an invisible being is behind all of it. There is good reason to believe that human's intellect and ability to have a more sophisticated experience evolved just like everything else. But there are no doubt things that happen to us that cause overwhelming emotions like happiness, anger, excitement, etc. Spirituality to me means trying to understand how the brain achieves these things and trying to use this information to achieve a better overall mental/emotional well-being. And to learn more about oneself in the process.

 

What do you think? Is that scientific sounding for the most part? Or does it still sound like woo?

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Dawkins said so himself in God delusion. He's an atheist, but accepts that maybe he's wrong. What evidence are you seeking?

Saying that you have an opinion but that you might be wrong just means that one is open minded. Perhaps you could supply the quote...In any case, to say that he would believe in God could mean anything....Einstein said he believed in God, but clearly was just meant that he thinks the the universe is a wonder-ful place.

 

In any case, this is anecdotal evidence. Your claim was that no one was that ALL atheists are not "wholly atheistic." Had you said that most atheists believed in the God portrayed by Baptists or Catholics or whatever, you might take a survey following statistical guidelines. It is virtually impossible to say that every atheist believes that there might be a God, and, given the vagary of the meaning of "God," I don't see how that would mean anything even if you could prove it.

 

When we narrow down the question, it becomes obvious that many atheists absolutely do not believe that it is possible that, for example, God making humans in a blink of an eye, or God talking to Moses from a burning bush, or the universe resting on the back of the turtle, or any number of religious claims about the nature of God/creation.

 

Your point seems to be that no one can prove that God (however one might define that term) does or does not exist....I think that this is common knowledge, but I don't think that it provides evidence for anything one way or the other.

Edited by disarray
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This isn't a thread about the label "atheist". Its a thread about the possibility of atheist having spirituality, or the non-religious, non-woo equivalent. Use the term spiritual or don't use it, but say whether or not you think it is or is not off limits to atheists. Elaborate all you want. I'd like to see what people think about this.

 

One other question I'd like to propose is, do you think religious gatherings (i.e. church, mass, synagogues) should be replaced with a secular version? Do you think the church support system gives the religious an advantage over non-believers in terms of belonging and emotional support? I personally think they do.

 

I know there are many people who would like to see religion slowly go away, and I suppose I'm one of them, but I'm not a militant who wants to use big gov't to rip it out of people's arms. I'm more for the power of persuasion. I also like the idea of slowly turning the churches into just mere gathering places that are totally secular, but provide many of the community, support, and emotional benefits that religious institutions currently do for people, not to mention the other good work work some of them do. I see no reason to think you couldn't have a secular version of this that dropped the religious bullshit of worshipping a first century carpenter.

 

What do you guys think?

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