Jump to content

Atheism and spirituality.


Recommended Posts

...to string together enjoyable erudite seeming combinations of words on a polar gore that may genuinely change people's lives.

Lol. Stupid autocorrect. This was supposed to say, "...combinations of words on a post or topic that may..." Polar gore works too, I suppose. :lol:

 

[mp][/mp]

If you ever decide to change careers you may want to look into poetry!

Why thank you, my good man. I fear, however, that such a profession likely requires far more drinking than my wife would be comfortable with.
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 81
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

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

As Jung (et al) pointed out, if science eradicates religion, people's religious 'instincts' to believe and worship something greater than themselves (Freud referred to gods as projections of our parents), then people's need for religious/spiritual sustenance will cause them to seek elsewhere, like water temporarily dammed when flowing downhill. Hence, one might point out the rather unorthodox spiritual seeking of the sixties' hippies, or more to the point, the quasi scientific beliefs of New Agers, and the general interest in Eastern religions that has steadily grown in the West.

 

I am not so sure, for example, that I want to visit a dying grandmother, for example, and then try to intellectually browbeat her into rejecting her belief that Jesus has forgiven her sins and that she will soon go to heaven to rejoin her deceased husband for all eternity. As I recall, Ben Franklin and Matthew Arnold, for example, thought that traditional Christianity was superstitious nonsense, but that it was a good thing because it comforted the masses and encouraged them to behave well.

 

I certainly agree with the the comforting aspect, and suspect that believing that a god personally loves one, that he rewards good and punishes evil at some point, and that he offers eternal life, helps millions get through the agony of their daily lives.

 

As I have mentioned somewhere before, whether one is a Buddhist or a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew, etc., there are typically and traditionally certain steps that one must take to get from A to B; that is, from not being saved and to being saved (and gaining eternal life or perhaps respite from seemingly pointless reincarnations).

 

Problems seem to occur, even within sects of the same religion, when one groups recipe for getting into heaven is not quite the same as someone elses. The deal is that both groups can't, from their point of view, be right. One has to be wrong...This seems to me to be a key factor in conflicts between, for example, Catholics and Protestants, or even among early Christian sects, and hence we see people such as Jefferson warning that we don't want to have a repeat of the sort of religious conflict over religious creeds (etc.) that occurred (for centuries) in Europe. And indeed, Jefferson was much maligned by many 'ordinary' people on the streets as he traveled around town minding his own business by people who had heard that he was not a proper Christian, who did not believe that Jesus performed miracles, and who was some sort of deist (which, they presumed, means one might as well be an atheist).

 

So yes, it would be nice if people could accept that there are many roads all leading to Rome, so to speak, but in practice, history has taught us that people tend not to be very open to this idea. Call it a spinoff of ethnocentrism if you like, but my church is always better than yours.

Edited by disarray
Link to post
Share on other sites

Even within the same church, issues of "my version of god is better than yours" are rampant. That's even farther away from the OPs inquiry regarding atheism and spirituality, though.

 

Did anyone ever satisfactorily define spirituality, btw? Seems rather fundamental we find consensus there before engaging in further exchange.

Link to post
Share on other sites

.


Even within the same church, issues of "my version of god is better than yours" are rampant. That's even farther away from the OPs inquiry regarding atheism and spirituality, though. Did anyone ever satisfactorily define spirituality, btw? Seems rather fundamental we find consensus there before engaging in further exchange.

I believe the original post was as follows:

"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 just pointed out what I think are the positive and negative aspects of being or promulgating atheism...How is that far away from the OPs original inquiry?

 

To be more specific, I referenced Jefferson, who rewrote disseminated the New Testament shorn of its miracles because he felt that Jesus was a great thinker. I think it reasonable, given what I know about Jefferson's thinking, to suggest that he himself thinks that it is possible to have a spiritual outlook on life (e.g., encouraging community spirit and communing with the spiritual dimensions of Nature) without subscribing to 'supernatural realms and (orthodox) gods' per se. As for the OPs inquiries about my own feelings and leanings on the issue, I think that my posts in general indicate that I have a like-minded attitude as Jefferson.

Edited by disarray
Link to post
Share on other sites

Guess no one is "biting," but I do think Jefferson is an interesting figure with regards to the question of whether one can be spiritual, but not religious. In practice, religion implies such things as ritual, creeds, images, etc. Indeed, the degree to which one has visible representations of ones beliefs was arguably a bone of contention between Moses and those who worshiped idols, as well as between the more ritualistic Catholics and Protestants (esp., for example, the Puritans).

 

Jefferson et al seemed to have had the idea that if one shears away all those elements that give the various religions and sects their unique identity, then there would be less conflict between them. (Samson's loss of strength at having his hair cut by Delilah and the head shaving of army recruits comes to mind in this regard). Indeed, he went so far as to deny Jesus's divinity and the general notion of a personal God.

 

In practice, this led to his hand in the construction of the principle of the Separation of Church and State (although there is some controversy as to the specifics).

 

So what's left that we might call "spiritual?" Well, he seemed to glean a handful of moral principles directly from Nature and/or the rather metaphorical God of Nature. Jefferson's thought was similar to Kant's belief that morality was hard wired into Nature (categorical moral imperative). The idea that one could be "inspired" directly by Nature was also a current notion of the times.

 

We read about these morals in the Declaration of Independence, which speaks of the Freedom and Equality of all "men," regardless of religious affiliation. (Though he perhaps did not fully take the principle to the logical conclusion that we do today to include people of all incomes, gender, and race).

 

This seems to me to be a good way to go: For a society (or world) to agree upon a few basic principles that seem fundamental (on perhaps a humanistic level) in their universal respect for human life and happiness. As with Eastern Religions, Jefferson's notion that all are equal seems to parallel the notion that all living things in Nature are valuable in their own right.

 

In a nutshell, the genius of Jefferson in this respect was that he wanted to cut out the "middleman" that dogma, miracles, ritual, creed, and orthodoxy provided, and cut to the chase by communing directly with (the spiritual dimension) of Nature.


I'm sorry for the offensive language. I made an ass out of myself again.

Didn't notice.

Edited by disarray
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure if this is allowed, but I figured I would change the topic of this thread in lieu of creating a new thread for this question I'd like to ask.

 

My question is this: Has any atheist here ever heard a Christian say to them something along the lines of "God doesn't send people to Hell, people send themselves to Hell"? If so, how did you respond to it? And what response would you give if you had the time to think on it?

 

For me, this argument/statement is insulting and dehumanizing, in addition to being logically flawed. It seems yet another desperate attempt to create euphemisms to shield their god from criticism, and to put the blame and shame back on you. There have been many analogies made for this statement that expose its diabolical underpinnings, such as the mafia boss who preys upon the innocent person by offering him the ultimatum that as long as he keeps paying up and doing the favors, he will be taken care of. But as soon as he tries to get out of his situation and make a stand, there will be consequences. It's like the mafia boss saying "sorry buddy, I gave you the ultimatum. You chose to betray me. You brought this on yourself." This is essentially the situation many Christians espouse with their god. Its the same as the mafia boss who created this dillema and put the person in this predicament. So the options are to live at the mercy of this tyrant, or to resist at your own peril.

 

What do you guys think about this?

Edited by Tampitump
Link to post
Share on other sites

Did anyone ever satisfactorily define spirituality, btw? Seems rather fundamental we find consensus there before engaging in further exchange.

 

Do we really need to?

 

We don't have a strict definition of life, yet we talk about it endlessly. Spirituality ,human construct that it is, would be even harder to pin down. Maybe it's best not to try. Sure it means we can't have well structured debates about it, but isn't that what art and literature are for?

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Do we really need to?

 

We don't have a strict definition of life, yet we talk about it endlessly. Spirituality ,human construct that it is, would be even harder to pin down. Maybe it's best not to try. Sure it means we can't have well structured debates about it, but isn't that what art and literature are for?

 

As long as we can avoid the obvious pitfalls, which I'm not sure is possible.

 

Because "life" isn't well defined, we have a lot of people who think they're initiating life when they have sex (procreate), rather than simply perpetuating a cycle that uses living sperm and living eggs to form a different living thing that might one day also perpetuate the same cycle of life. Those people don't see a seed as having life until it flowers. This definition of life has caused a great deal of problems, so I wonder if a better, encompassing definition of spirituality would avoid some of those pitfalls.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do we really need to?

 

We don't have a strict definition of life, yet we talk about it endlessly. Spirituality ,human construct that it is, would be even harder to pin down.

That's sort of my point. It's too hard to define to be relevant. At least in the definition of life thread, the central intent of the thread and desire of the OP is to adequately define life. Here, nobody has really even tried to define spirituality, and I don't blame them. It's pretty much a worthless woo word.

 

To your question if we really need to.p define it first... No, it's not some mandate and I definitely take your point. I also stipulate that spirituality is a bit of a trigger word for me. I slap my head, often lose respect for the person introducing it and generally question their credibility. It's my science forum version of nails on a chalkboard.

 

I feel it's used too often as a rhetorical shortcut to describe other things, other things that would be better described using other words.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

As long as we can avoid the obvious pitfalls, which I'm not sure is possible...

 

 

I feel it's used too often as a rhetorical shortcut to describe other things, other things that would be better described using other words.

 

OK. I'll again proffer a definition of spirituality as being the search for meaning in one's life. Hopefully that is broad enough to include a lot of the religious elements many people will likely want included while not being so broad as to be meaningless or bleed into areas it need not.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What value or clarity does use of the term spiritual bring?

Only in the sense that religions claim to have it, while they assert non-religious don't. I agree that the word is basically meaningless, but I use it as a means of trying to explain to the religious how, whatever it is they are calling "spirituality", it can be had without believing in unjustified claims. That is, I want to show them what people actually mean when they use the term. Like you said, it really is a search for meaning or the practice of trying to be connected to the universe in more ways than the physical. Or it could mean seeking more extraordinary experiences through drugs or meditation. Either way, I think it really is the pursuit of higher experience or insight.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Only in the sense that religions claim to have it, while they assert non-religious don't. I agree that the word is basically meaningless, but I use it as a means of trying to explain to the religious how, whatever it is they are calling "spirituality", it can be had without believing in unjustified claims. That is, I want to show them what people actually mean when they use the term. Like you said, it really is a search for meaning or the practice of trying to be connected to the universe in more ways than the physical. Or it could mean seeking more extraordinary experiences through drugs or meditation. Either way, I think it really is the pursuit of higher experience or insight.

 

 

Why are you so determined to bring religion into a thread entitled "Atheism and Spirituality"?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I am atheist and not spiritual.

Where I live (Belgium), atheism is often the norm. I know that many atheists are spiritual.

I can imagine that in countries where religion is more important, atheists are generally not spiritual.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why not just say "search for meaning?" What value or clarity does use of the term spiritual bring?

 

As an olive branch to all the religious people out there who may recognise the folly in various world religions but the compulsion to seek meaning is too great for them to give up the search. Of course we know atheism does not stop people from finding such meaning, but that is not the common perception: atheism is seen as a lifeless, cold and uncaring. By explicitly saying atheism allows for spirituality we may tempt people away from religious dogma.

 

Thus it may have some value even if it brings no clarity.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A quality answer. Thank you for sharing it. Essentially, the abandonment of clarity is often valuable in various social settings where bonding itself is more important. Man, that rubs me wrong, but I get it.

Edited by iNow
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

II ran across this definition of "spirituality" in a research publication I was reading.

 

Five-Factor Model Personality Traits, Spirituality/Religiousness, and Mental Health among People Living With HIV

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2739880/

 

In broad terms, the concept of religiousness captures adherence to traditional religious creeds, often centered around a specific community of faith (Hill et al.; Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006). At a more specific level, religiousness encompasses both a specific belief system and a set of behaviors (e.g., prayer, church attendance) associated with these beliefs. Spirituality, in contrast, typically refers to subjective, non-church-centered experiences of the transcendent which imbue everyday life with a sense of deeper meaning (e.g., Emmons, 1999). Some conceptualizations of spirituality also encompass a sense of communion with humanity and compassion for others (e.g., LaPierre, 1994; Elkins, 2001). Although spirituality and religiousness are not mutually exclusive (Hill et al.), there is growing evidence suggesting that they are empirically distinct concepts (Saucier, 2000; Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006).

 

 

I think even this definition has some shortcomings. Clearly most people think of spirituality as relating to some kind of god, so that would exclude atheists. However even defining "spirituality" as a belief in the "transcendant" is to define it in terms of a person's conclusion rather than their mode of thought. I think spirituality often refers to a very literal "search for meaning". Spiritual people don't only see meaning in human social interaction, they see meaning in dreams, visions, mundane physical events, et cetera. This is probably why "Mentalizing Deficits Constrain Belief in a Personal God (Norenzayan, 2012)". I argue that this definition is superior because the mode of thought, the search, is more psychologically fundamental than the conclusion, the conclusion being highly influenced by the cultural context and also the randomness of personal experience. Defined this way, an atheist might still be considered spiritual despite a bias toward inconclusiveness or toward non-theistic interpretations (e.g. aliens, undiscovered forces).


It's not something I would normally talk about, but I did have a bizarre experience this morning. I've felt a bit "out of my mind" lately, and I'm intrigued by the possibility of talking to my own dream state. I had a lucid recently but unfortunately ended it before thinking to ask questions. This morning I was paralyzed. My eyes were closed but I could feel my body. I was afraid and said, or more likely mumbled, "This is a dream. This has to be a dream. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up." Just before awakening, however, I heard a whisper tell me, "You're okay".


There are two related personality disorders that are disposed to dissociative experiences: the borderline and the schizotypal. Borderline personality, unlike schizotypal, is correlated with higher performance on the Reading The Mind in the Eyes Test. Their symptoms seem to be mostly related to diminished serotonergic activity, which should create a less compliant and therefore less religious disposition. On the other hand, comorbid schizotypal symptoms are common in borderline, which would include the tendency toward unusual spiritual beliefs, which I could see arising from their dissociative tendencies.


 


We predicted that individuals scoring highest on the Cautious/Social Norm Compliant scale would be significantly more likely to be members of an organized, conventional religious group, as this is consistent with genetic data associating aspects of the serotonin system with religiosity (Lorenzi et al., 2005; Ott et al., 2005) and traditionalism (Golimbet et al., 2004).


Schizotypal Personality Disorder: A Current Review

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4182925/

Vivid perceptual/dissociative disturbances that are associated with elaborate magical beliefs require a delicate psychotherapeutic approach, as SPD patients can simultaneously (albeit in an unintegrated manner) recognize these thoughts and experiences as symptoms, yet at the same time, ascribe them to reality.

 



 

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

 

My main problem is with a being that's both all-powerful and all-knowing, and I could be considered a strong atheist in that respect. However, I'm very open to the possibilities otherwise.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am an atheist who doesn't consider himself to be spiritual. Primarily because I grew up with that term being intimately connected to religion (grew up southern baptist). As I considered and reconsidered my religious views as I got older, I eventually started describing my opinions on religious issues as "spiritual but not religious." I stopped doing that when I realized that I didn't really mean it. What I really meant was that (at the time) my religious views didn't fit any single religions dogma. I had effectively constructed my own religion of sorts (a mish-mash of christian and buddhist/deist ideas). So I was still spiritual and religious, but I didn't ascribe to a single religion like other people did.

 

So, do I find wonder and awe in the universe around me? Yeah. Do I feel a strong connection to the world in which I live that causes me to become emotionally invested in it? Yes. But I refrain from using the word "spiritual" when describing my opinions and experiences because it is often associated with religious beliefs. (and I don't believe in the spirit or the soul as a thing that exists independent of my own mind/body)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.