Atheism and Spirituality

Atheist seeking spirituality?

This topic contains 146 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 7 months, 1 week ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 91 through 105 (of 147 total)
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  • #27807

    Jody Lee
    Participant

    “The origin of “spiritual” is the Latin word spiritus meaning breath. Breathing, an essential element of human life, thus informs that spirituality has something to do with an essence of living.”

    Maybe just adding fuel to the fire, but I like this definition.

    #27808

    Unseen
    Participant

    “The origin of “spiritual” is the Latin word spiritus meaning breath. Breathing, an essential element of human life, thus informs that spirituality has something to do with an essence of living.”

    Spirituality=breathing. That is your working definition now?

    #27809

    Jody Lee
    Participant

    @unseen

    Sure… on a most basic level. ‘The essence of living’ resonates with me moreso. Are you really THIS hung up about a word?

    #27810

    _Robert_
    Participant

    “A spirit” as a noun is a supernatural being. Holy Spirit, a ghost, a god, a soul, etc.

    Used a descriptive adjective the word may or may not be nonsensical.

    I have noticed that people often invoke “spirituality” when they want to add weight or power to their statements. ‘Godspeed’ sounds so much more substantial as a spacecraft leaves the launchpad than ‘good luck’; don’t you think?

     

     

    #27811

    Ivy
    Participant

    Here’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth on definitions:

    I think it’s really hard for an atheist to feel comfortable using a word like spiritual because by very definition, atheists do not believe in spirits of any kind.

    I really like the Native American concept of the Great Spirit, which is for all intents and purposes – God. I’ve become particularly interested in the way Native Americans view God and compare/contrasting these concepts with modern day Christianity. It’s an area of interest for me at present. Native Americans have what I think is a fantastic definition when they talk about “The Great Spirit.” And I think being “spiritual” is communing with this Great Spirit (God), whatever you want to label he/she/it as. I think it is easiest for this to happen in nature. We evolved living outdoors connected to the universe, not separated from it.

    So when atheists try to define spiritual without believing in spirits, it does end up convoluted and confusing.

    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. They never will be able to. They insist that there MUST be some sort of evidence. I think there’s PLENTY of evidence but that is very subjective, as is their insistence that the evidence isn’t sufficient, (or lack of ability to even define what sufficient evidence would even begin to LOOK like for them)….. So these sort of discussions perpetually and neverendingly go in circles…and end up nowhere, lol…THAT is why people on this forum get really hung up on that word. Because they don’t believe in it.

    #27812

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    ‘The essence of living’

    communing with this Great Spirit (God)

    I think these are two versions of the same thing, if you examine the concepts.  If you want to be scientific about it, translate them into science.

    Science in this case is a very abstract and systematic way of referring to a lived experience, which is rich and immediate.

    #27813

    Ivy
    Participant

    @Simonpayton

    The essence of living’

    communing with this Great Spirit (God)
    I think these are two versions of the same thing, if you examine the concepts.  If you want to be scientific about it, translate them into science.

    No, I think the former is a watered down PC non-commital version of the later. The later presumes the existence of a deity/creator, the former  does not. And that’s the whole crux of the issue isn’t it? One is a Wikipedia definition. The other is part of human culture since the dawn of our existence.

    The former is a great definition if you’re an atheist. It really is. But….ya know. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, changed into my bikini and went swimming 😂 ☀️

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  Ivy.
    #27815

    Ivy
    Participant

    …..and if we’re fixated on the idea of defining “spiritual” – good luck. There’s over 27 definitions (or more) because again – it REALLY depends on the lens by which you see the world. We go into this with a confirmation bias (@Davis whether you accept that or not it is the truth).

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think we DO connect with the creator of the universe. I do see spirituality as something way personal and it’s not easy to describe.

     

    #27816

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    lol, at least we can say we know what we’re talking about now.  I think it’s important, that if we use a word, we know what it means.

    I think that spirituality is equally accessible to religious (God-believing) and non-religious people, depending on the frame of reference.  It’s easier for religious people because it’s their meat and drink.  Work needs to be done on developing a non-religious version, because as @jody Lee has pointed out, at least some people need or want it.  I know I do.

    @davis – in this case, there’s no need for me to check if someone else has said something, before I say it (!?!).  That’s a ridiculous way to do philosophy.  In science, we need references, but in creating ideas, we don’t in the same way.

    #27817

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    At the same time, it seems that the area of spirituality is pretty f***ing vast, and I’m not sure I can do it justice in the same way as morality, although I can scratch the surface and come up with some kind of animating framework that will work for some people, depending on their mindset (abstract and scientific works for some but not all).

    #27818

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @JodyLee, if you’re looking for some kind of spiritual practice, then the go-to one of Eastern religion is meditation.  Apparently there are two kinds: divided into “chanting” and “looking”, both of which work to distract the ego, either by chanting a mantra (I don’t do this) or by one-point concentration on some particular present-moment phenomenon (mindfulness – either concentration or analysis work).

    I think we’re just beginning to understand these, but maybe there are three main ways in which mindfulness works:

    1. “mental noting” which aims to “name” phenomena like actions and emotions, which seems inane until we consider that this passes the phenomenon to the conscious brain for slower, more deliberate and conscious processing.  The conscious brain is where words live, so it builds connections between the body or emotions and conscious mind.
    2. distraction, or not looking at things that upset us, which just adds fuel to the fire of anger or maybe anxiety too.  Instead, focus on the present moment and making that conscious by naming it with words.
    3. building mental stamina, discipline and focus.

    I am sure that mindfulness works in other ways too.

    I’m told that “religion” (Eastern spiritual practice) consists in essence of morality, which leads to stillness (a calm mind), which leads to wisdom (truth and compassion leading to long term thriving).

    Unfortunately, as it’s a skill rather than a set of ideas, meditation needs to be taught in person by an experienced practitioner like a Buddhist monk.  So, if you’re interested, find yourself one and expect to pay a good $10 a session to help cover expenses.

    #27819

    I do think that we ALL know deep down that we are connected to “God”/”The Great Spirit” 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.

    Fine if you think that but I do not believe in gods so I cannot feel connected to whatever you are trying to call it.  I do feel connected to the world around me. I understand that all life is connected. At least it is for me. I do understand we exist on a small planet in a vast galaxy in an even bigger Universe. I do feel a sense of awe when I gaze at the stars or listen to Bach or view the various forms of art that humans have produced over the centuries. And so on. But to me these are all common human experiences. They can be very personal at the time we experience them and surprise us to find beauty in what we might otherwise see as mundane. We can be humbled by its sheer simplicity and amazed at its grandeur. We can have shared experiences with complete strangers that bring us all together.  We atheists don’t need to put it “under a microscope”.  I don’t call them spiritual experiences, not because I am an atheist but because the term “spiritual” never enters my own mind as a descriptor of any experience. The very fact of my own existence, giving the odds of not existing as “me” is for me, profound.  I can find other experiences “powerful” or “awesome” or “inspiring”. They can be life changing and alter our perceptions for good. But calling them spiritual does not give it any meaning.

    For me all of these experiences throughout my life (as I smile to myself at how short it really is no matter how long I remain to exist) are “natural” experiences. I fell connected to the natural world, not as an outsider connected to some “great spirit” but because I am part of the natural world. I do not feel any connection to anything that is not part of the natural world. For me there is no other type of world. I do not have any supernatural sensing radar that picks up the presence of “Great Spirits” or detects the presence of supernatural gods or angels or “spirits” at play in the natural world.

    I can grasp the sublime essence of these moments and carry them with me for the rest of my life. They can inspire me to be a better person, to elevate my perception, to learn and to think more deeply, to feel more connected but again, within all of that, I see these experiences as entirely human. They are all natural experiences occurring in a natural world. I do not see spirits as natural, not because I do not believe in their existence (which I don’t) but because I don’t see the need to describe natural phenomena with words that relate to the unnatural, or supernatural, which I also don’t believe occur. To me the sensations I get when privileged to experience powerful and inspiring events are sublime. They are the pinnacle of our human experience and calling them spiritual is to do them an injustice. When we share such natural experiences we strengthen the bonds that connect us to each other and not to some imaginary spirit god. Claiming that atheists need to put such natural experiences under a microscope to appreciate them or need to feel a connection to some unnatural spirit to do is far from sublime.

    We have discovered how much of the world is constructed, including us humans by using microscopes. The discovery of our genetic code and of subatomic particles is in itself awe-inspiring. Theists can give thanks to their spirit gods, however they describe them but I give thanks to mere humans for such brilliance.

    The Wayfarer

    The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
    This beauty that will pass;
    Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
    To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
    Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
    Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
    Lit by a slanting sun,
    Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
    Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
    And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
    Or children with bare feet upon the sands
    Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
    Of little towns in Connacht,
    Things young and happy.
    And then my heart hath told me:
    These will pass,
    Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
    Things bright and green, things young and happy;
    And I have gone upon my way
    Sorrowful.

    – Patrick Pearse.

    #27820

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I understand that all life is connected. At least it is for me.

    So connected that we must literally eat each other. That bacon, string bean, or potato in your belly is proof of our connection. The shared process of evolution that has brought all living things here, together..such that looking at just about any animal embryo it is hard to tell what type of creature will result. The way plants and animal exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. The way different species adopt and care for each others young. The way birds sing and we listen…a gift of music and we respond with music of our own. The way a mosquito passes the malaria organism as it drinks your chemically un-clotted blood. The connections are so dependent, so deep and profound and so natural that have only scratched the surface of our connectedness.  We no longer require a shaman to help us with all of this wonderous and sometime scary observation. No need to talk-up the misguidance provided by Native Americans concerning wolf spirits. No, it is much more profound than that.

    #27821

    Ivy
    Participant

    @Reg

    Fine if you think that but I do not believe in gods so I cannot feel connected to whatever you are trying to call it.

    I think you are connected to it you just don’t recognize or acknowledge it for what it is. You call it something else.

    #27822

    Unseen
    Participant

    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.”

    You don’t speak for me.

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