Posts tagged ‘atheist’

Can an Atheist be Spiritual?

Can an atheist be spiritual? This question comes up a lot, and I think it is a fair and natural one. As one of the many who has traversed the difficult road out of Protestant Christian fundamentalism, I would like to offer my own answer to this question. In short: absolutely yes…. but it is important to understand just what a non-theist might mean by “spiritual”. Let me start by looking at how the word “spiritual” is usually understood.

For conservative religionists, “spirituality”, to the extent that they use the term at all, has to do with participation in a supernatural orthodoxy – things like adherence to official doctrine, official sacraments and rituals, being “saved”, revivals/worship, singing hymns, reading the Bible, one’s “walk with God”. Their spirituality is revelation-based. For them, it is God Himself who instructs us how to relate to him, and that is the only avenue seen as open to humans for “spirituality.” God, in short, tells you what the rules are; you either do it or you don’t.

Religious liberals (and, to some extent, moderates), by contrast, are relatively less sure about the next world and more sure about this one. Liberals generally feel that whatever we might know about “God” (however they understand that term) is necessarily filtered through human interpretation and thus, human experience. Thus they tend to accept the methods and findings of both science and the historical-critical approach to religious texts, and will likely see our views about God as at least somewhat (if not entirely) culturally-dependent. They usually have no problem seeing religious myth as myth – i.e., not tied to literal, historical fact – and can find it illuminating and valuable nonetheless…

Continue Reading June 25, 2008 at 1:18 am 47 comments

Spirituality Without Superstition

There are many sources of spirituality; religion may be the most common, but it is by no means the only. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades. – Michael Shermer, The Soul of Science

I am an atheist, a person with a naturalistic world view, free of supernatural, metaphysical, and paranormal forces. Can I understand what it means to be spiritual? Can I write about spirituality? Can I claim to be a spiritual person? I was recently challenged to think about these questions.

For many people, the word spiritual is closely tied to the concept of religion and the belief in a personified God, a father figure looking out for his children as he reigns in heaven. For others, the word spiritual brings up images of the New Age movement, séances, auras, Tarot cards, and crystal energy. Still others think of Zen Buddhism, meditation, yoga, the Tao Te Ching, and other Eastern traditions. Yes, people following these paths do consider themselves to be spiritual. But that does not mean that those of us who are skeptics and brights cannot dip into the well of spirituality to quench our own thirst for mystery and meaning.

Spirituality is not a result of belief in the supernatural. It arises naturally out of human consciousness…

Continue Reading March 29, 2008 at 12:16 am 23 comments

Book Review: Parenting Beyond Belief

Parenting Beyond BeliefThis book, written from an explicitly atheistic perspective, is unlike many other books about parenting that are available throughout the USA. The editor states that “There are scores of books on religious parenting. Now there’s one for the rest of us” (p. x). In spite of its clearly non-religious posture, this book is not intended to denigrate religion and its practitioners. In fact, McGowan observes at the outset that “religion has much to offer parents: an established community, a predefined set of values. . .comforting answers to big questions, and consoling explanations to ease experiences of hardship and loss” (p. x). Nevertheless, McGowan and many others believe that there are compelling benefits to raising children outside of religious traditions. This book is intended to assist such parents.

The book is divided into nine chapters, each of which is comprised of an introduction by the editor and writings from various authors, many of whom identify themselves as freethinkers. These authors include philosophers, scientists, two Unitarian Universalist ministers, a former Pentecostal minister, a comedian and several others. The chapters address such issues as religious literacy, parenting in a mixed secular/religious marriage, good and bad reasons for belief, celebrating religion-free holidays, developing moral values, coping with death and consolation, developing critical thinking skills and habits, and building secular communities…

Continue Reading October 31, 2007 at 10:54 am 8 comments

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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