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The problem with answering such a question is that the term 'spiritual' is so vague and ill-defined most of the time. Usually when people use it they mean something similar to, but nevertheless very distinct from, religion. This is probably an improper usage because there are very good reasons to think that spirituality is more a type of religion than anything else.


Read Article: Atheism and Spirituality: Are there any Spiritual Atheists?

April 4, 2007 at 4:38 pm
(1) EvilPoet says:

This definition works for me…

SPIRITUALITY, n. A meaningless but uplifting term often found in “personals” ads. (Source: The Devil’s Dictionaries)

April 16, 2007 at 10:30 am
(2) Tom T says:

” If the general usage is mistaken and spirituality really is best described as a highly personalized and privatized religious belief system, then the answer to the question is clearly “yes.”"

Austin, are you sure you aren’t dyslexic? In this instance the answer is clearly NO – by simple defintion – if someone were spiritual according to this defintion, then they could not possibly fit the definition of atheist.

Surely atheism being defined and characterised as a lack of belief in the supernatural and religious would extend not only to public gods and religions, but also to private ones?

My argument would be that anyone who is spiritual by this definition (or mis-definition) and claims to be an athiest is lying to themselves and others.

April 16, 2007 at 10:39 am
(3) Austin Cline says:

Surely atheism being defined and characterised as a lack of belief in the supernatural and religious would extend not only to public gods and religions, but also to private ones?

Well, atheism isn’t defined that way. Atheism is the absence of belief in gods, nothing more and nothing less. It’s certainly not the absence of religion, as demonstrated by the religions which are or can be atheistic: Raelians, Buddhism, Religious Humanism, etc. So long as one’s “highly personalized and religious belief system” does not contain any gods, there is no contradiction with atheism.

April 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm
(4) Karen says:

I don’t believe in gods, fairies, wood sprites, ghosts, etc., but I can feel an amazing sense of awe when I see a colorful schist, a beautiful landscape, a wonderful painting, or a delicate wildflower; when I hear a particularly moving piece of music, the sound of a rushing stream, or a mockingbird’s song; when I feel rain on my face after a long hot summer, or the sun after weeks of cloudy, rainy weather. To me, these are special experiences, particular joy-events, and I call them “spiritual” and treasure them.

April 30, 2008 at 8:10 pm
(5) Ron says:

(My argument would be that anyone who is spiritual by this definition (or mis-definition) and claims to be an atheist is lying to themselves and others.) Depends on whether or not he inhaled.

May 1, 2008 at 2:43 am
(6) The Reverend says:

If you define spirituality as the quest to understand the feeling of there being “something more” to life than basic material existance, it doesn’t conflict- Because the “something more” does not HAVE to be supernatural- it could be purely psychological. As others said, a sense of awe or insignificance when confronted with the majesty of the natural world.

Then again, are we defining athiesm as There is no god., or as The evidence available does not support the existance of god.? One of those views strikes me as reasonable, the other as dogmatic- skepticism should not be immune to itself.

May 1, 2008 at 5:59 pm
(7) Sean says:

Yes, I think for me there is spiritual atheism. I am a musician. I know that all the music I write, create and play are the result of the neurons in my brain and have no supernatural source whatsoever. Music expresses things for me when words fail or are inadequate. I always feel like I need to reclaim the word ‘spiritual’ from theists. If anyone has a better word for what happens when a rational logical atheists creates music I’d love to hear it.

May 1, 2008 at 9:37 pm
(8) The Reverend says:


That moment on stage where suddenly everything clicks, and the song becomes bigger than the performer, and you just get lost in the groove- Musicians all “GET IT”- I’m convinced that that right there is what the Buddhists call nirvanna, Rand called purpose, Leary called fifth circuit conciousness, Christ called the holy spirit, Crowley called true will….

Yeah…. that’s the stuff that the religious experience is made of, and I have no problem accepting that the experience can exist outside of a belief system.

October 8, 2010 at 11:09 pm
(9) P Smith says:

Evilpoet quoted a non-standard source, but standard ones come up with the same result.

One of the definitions for “spiritual” in my dictionary is “lacking material body, form or substance”. One could say that the concept of “spiritual” is the same, without substance. It’s a made-up wish for something that isn’t there.

By the by, my on-computer dictionary is Wordweb, produced by Princeton University. It’s free to download and use.



October 9, 2010 at 7:30 am
(10) sornord says:

Are spirituality and emotionality being confused? I don’t think gods, spirits, fairies, etc. exist so am atheist however I still have emotions. Last week I visited the Koeln/Cologne cathedral and was amazed at the grandeur and historical significance of it. An occasional “Wow!” could be heard coming from my lips as we walked through it. Did I have a sense of god because of it? Not in the slightest.

October 9, 2010 at 7:31 am
(11) sornord says:

I’m also a musician…coincidence?

October 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm
(12) Roe says:

I’ve asked many, but never found a one who can describe what is meant by ‘spiritual’ beyond the purely subjective, emotional experience. To me, the same applies to the concepts of ‘soul’ or ‘metaphysical’; abstract concepts with no physical substance beyond what occurs in human brains when they think about such concepts or ‘believe’ in them. I have yet to meet anyone or read of anyone who has demonstrated a common definition based on physical evidence, experiment observation with repeatable results. ‘Spirit’, ‘Soul’, and ‘metaphysical’ are all non-falsifiable. Basically, the ‘spiritual’ experience is a non-verbal, emotion state that people learn to associate with the term ‘spiritual’, or in many cases, I suspect it’s just a whimsical idea that people go along with in the interest of being accepted by a social group on which they depend to meet their physical and emotional needs. Of course, it’s been argued that ‘love’ is a similar thing… :-) I guess if one doesn’t coincidentally share certain emotions, then it can hinder their ability to form social bonds, at least on the basis of religion.

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