Atheism and Spirituality
Atheist seeking spirituality?
August 21, 2019 at 4:50 pm #27865
Same Harris may be the type of person that needs to be reminded to live in the now, but I know a lot of people whose lives would likely benefit if they did at least some planning for the future.
Exactly. Now I am all for the idea that we shouldn’t worry ourselves to death about things that haven’t happened yet….But at the exact same time, our brains allow us to project into the future, What might happen if we take a certain action or step…This is definitely part of our evolutionary history and what has helped us survive. I think for somebody like Sam Harris, he has plenty of money and he doesn’t have to worry about his tomorrow. People who live at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid have to worry every single day about tomorrow. It’s really a huge privilege to live and such an unrealistic utopia all the time. But there’s definitely something to be said for learning how to not stress yourself out more than you absolutely have to.August 21, 2019 at 5:01 pm #27866
In this case, then 1) cars / earthquakes / fires etc. are not a part of the living world, they are alien and external to it because they are not alive, and living things only possess limited control over physical phenomena and circumstances; 2) good and evil, or at least, pro- and anti-social behaviour, are themselves attributes of the living world. These two observations are consistent with IT being part of the living world. If it can’t prevent things like this, what’s the point of it? Why is it so Great? Because even in the midst of unfavourable physical circumstances, it leads in the direction of making things better for living things. How does that square with evil? Because evil is when a human being makes things better for themselves at the needless expense of another. Good can be thought of as mutual, or at least harmless to others, making things better.
You’ve packed an unusual amount of nonsense into these paragraphs.
Good and evil are human ideas. They didn’t exist before mankind evolved and started wanting to control human behavior. There were no good or bad dinosaurs or dinosaur behaviors.
“…it leads in the direction of making things better for living things.” If the Great Spirit leads in the direction of making things better for living things, how do you explain populations of animals, plants, and human beings being ravaged by viral and bacterial diseases, mass extinctions due to meteor strikes, cycles of overpopulation eliminating large number through extinctions, and predators feasting on prey before the prey is even dead?
“…evil is when a human being makes things better for themselves at the needless expense of another.” That kind of describes capitalism, doesn’t it? But the Great Spirit isn’t, as I understand it, just a deity for humans, but is a deity over all of nature, right? So it is the god that lets a pack of wild dogs tear a hind leg off of a still-living antelope.
But, this “god” isn’t a living, thinking intentional being that can be responsible for its actions is it? No. Like a rock, it’s not alive.
One might as well worship a rock.August 21, 2019 at 8:05 pm #27871
how do you explain … mass extinctions due to meteor strikes
Simon Paynton wrote:
even in the midst of unfavourable physical circumstances, it leads in the direction of making things better for living things.
I think you raise a good point: this “Great Spirit” is amoral, except in the case of human beings, where it generates two things: 1) competition, as in the rest of nature; 2) cooperation and morality, due to our interdependence. We are the only species with a fully-fledged morality of fairness. This points to there being no “moral facts” in the sense that rightness and wrongness are built into the fabric of the universe. Although, like everything, they have their distant roots in the physical universe.
If an antelope gets a scratch on its leg, that scratch will heal up on its own, unless it gets infected. But the antelope is designed to return to health as well as possible after injury. That’s my conception of the “Great Spirit” at work. Also, the antelope is a fast runner and has a chance of getting away.
So it is the god that lets a pack of wild dogs tear a hind leg off of a still-living antelope.
It’s amoral in nature and moral in humans, although there are plenty of amoral humans too. More precisely, there is a tension between “me-concerns” and “you-concerns” / “we-concerns”.
Steve Taylor believes in the pervasiveness of consciousness throughout the physical universe, a concept I have a hard time with, although I haven’t examined it. He raises the possibility of “guided evolution” that is favourable to life, and claims to have good evidence. I can look into it if you like.
Like a rock, it’s not alive.
It’s a force or pressure, guiding the existence of living things down to the molecular level and up to the level of the entire organism, and beyond, to inclusive fitness (shared genes of relatives).August 22, 2019 at 12:42 am #27890
Are you really THIS hung up about a word?
Here’s my opinion on why this word is a big deal, and then I’ll explain what I wish it to mean if/when I use the word.
The most obvious reason why it’s important, at least in a forum of atheists, is because the majority of people (at least in USA) mean it to refer to an ethereal third party spirit like a deity or other invisible but usually pervasive consciousness. This usage is anathema to any scientific or universally reproducible-evidence-based discussion. At best, any testimony supporting this sense of the word “spirituality” is anecdotal. Mind-body dualism is strongly implied, if not explicit, in the notion that this purported, other consciousness can not only be a part of one’s self, but will maintain its existence even after one’s self is dead and gone.
(As an aside, I find it interesting that dualism is a paradigm that’s been repurposed in other humanly constructed concepts, as well, especially concepts related to consciousness.)
Now, my personal definition, or at least my attempt to use the word in a meaningful way that perhaps most people should be able to understand.
Spirituality is the feeling of being connected to the world, to the universe, to other life, and especially the feeling of being able to share very similar beliefs such that one also feels like they belong to something bigger than themselves, and they can share a common purpose.
Sadly, in the extreme, spirituality can be become an obsession, like an addictive drug, that makes possible some very bizarre perceptions of reality and unfounded belief systems.
But when not taken to an extreme, spiritual feelings can facilitate personal insights into self and others, e.g. in art, music, and other humanities.
It seems to me that the main objection atheists have to that definition would be when it includes, as it does in typical usage, the dualistic notion of an invisible energy or force. I personally prefer to assume that feelings of connectedness and needing to belong to a larger consciousness and group purpose have naturally evolved, especially in humans and other pack animals.
I may not believe in a divine kind of spirituality, but I can surmise where the feeling comes from, and I can learn what each person means when they talk about it. Well, except for (say) Jordan Peterson, which is like trying to nail jello to a wall… and so I’m mostly just analyzing his metaphors like they’re part of a strange thought experiment.August 22, 2019 at 12:57 am #27891
My usage does not refer to an ethereal party or link to dualism. Thar feeling of connectedness IS what I seek. An addiction? Perhaps. But not to point where I have irrational or unfounded concepts of reality.
I’m not the majority and over time maybe you guys will get used to the way I use it. 😁😁August 22, 2019 at 1:05 am #27892
I’m not the majority and over time maybe you guys will get used to the way I use it. 😁😁
I’m perfectly fine with that, and also tend not to be in the majority. Sometimes I’m thinking ok, fine, so what if this tennis ball hits a hornet’s nest!August 22, 2019 at 1:35 am #27893
I do think that we ALL know deep down that we are connected to “God”/”The Great Sprit” whatever you want to call “it/him/her.” (insert gender pronoun here lol)….but….I think people who call themselves atheists do not like to admit this because they cannot see/touch/feel/put under a microscope…it.
Pardon me if you haven’t retracted any of this as I haven’t read all pages in the thread yet, but I have to say there is really big error in your data or perception or whatever led you to this conclusion. (I’m not offended, just perplexed, and will say no more.)August 22, 2019 at 8:58 am #27897
I’ve learned (thanks to @JodyLee‘s discussion) that what spirituality means to people is very personal; or rather, the way it is expressed is very personal. This reflects the fact that everyone lives their lives in their own way.August 22, 2019 at 8:23 pm #27901
I’ve learned (thanks to @JodyLee‘s discussion) that what spirituality means to people is very personal; or rather, the way it is expressed is very personal. This reflects the fact that everyone lives their lives in their own way.
I agree, and endeavor to keep learning the depth of this very uniquely-human evolution.
(My meaning for “evolution” in that sentence refers to both natural genetic evolution, plus the more artificial/cultural evolution we’ve experienced over the past tens of thousands of years, but especially the most recent few thousands of years since we invented complex language and thought, public performance venues and exhibits, and the printing press. Yes, human evolution gets complicated and deep!)
And prolly because I’m growing old, I’m recently caring less about how others think of my opinions, and I’m relying more on my personal, basic nature to balk at traditional culture, e.g. the tradition to be so damned dogmatic about language syntax and other communication protocols. I feel I’ve a deeper understanding of what humans mean when they say “spirituality”, and in fact also what humans may be unaware (or even willfully ignorant) of on the topic. And it’s not their fault… humanity as a whole just hasn’t progressed yet to a fuller, widespread understanding of the hows and the whys of the word’s potential meanings.
(In my world view, I also relate this kind of discussion to the topic of human consciousness, especially regarding the interplay between genetically-based innate consciousness vs our culturally manufactured and memed shapers of modern consciousness and its widely various intellectual (for-better-and-for-worse) products.)
(Too many parentheticals there? LOL!)August 24, 2019 at 8:44 pm #27942
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
@JodyLee Our vibrating mass of molecules that we call our bodies, our subconscious and conscious minds, the variety of frequencies we experience….that’s spiritual, the essence of living to me. On a small scale.
The first part – Our vibrating mass of molecules that we call our bodies….that’s spiritual…
If you were to say that when you came to understand our bodies are a vibrating mass of molecules that you very filled with a sense of awe and that you would describe that sensation as “spiritual”, then I would be able to grasp what you mean by the word. I would know that you were not using the term as an expression of any supernatural involvement.
But from your wording (I am being a little pedantic but…) it would seem to imply you are saying that there is “agency” involved in the process. There is not. It is an entirely natural process even if it all works at the quantum level. It is peddlers of Woo like Deepak Chopra who claim that QM is part of a spiritual process or Creationists that use the double split experiment to imply their god is behind it (as per the page 5 link).
There are about 10 million atoms along the diameter of the period at the end of this sentence.
An atom is made of 99.9999999999999% empty space. It has been likened to a moth flying around the inside of a Cathedral but that does not make it spiritual 🙂
If we could remove all of the empty space from the atoms that make up all of the 7.7 billion human beings on Earth and compress what is left, then we would have something the size of a sugar cube. A hippie would call that “heavy” and I would know what was meant. Spiritual? No way man!
I get what you mean but only because of earlier explanations of how you see the world without gods being involved. Most theists and even the non-religious talk of spirituality within the workings of science rather than using the term to express the emotional impact of how understanding it made them feel. The word has too many connotations to the pervasive world of woo.
Hmm, I think I just inhaled one of the atoms Democritus exhaled. Oh, so did each of us. He is quoted to have said “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion”. I find that profound given that he lived 400 or so years before Jesus was
inventedborn. But certainly not spiritual.August 25, 2019 at 12:46 am #27957
it would seem to imply you are saying that there is “agency” involved in the process. There is not.
I’m not meaning to imply that at all…but I think you know that. I’m standing by my word…perhaps I’ll just avoid bringing it up around a group of atheists next time unless I’m ready to defend. 😆😎
“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion”.
I love this.August 25, 2019 at 3:47 am #27959
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