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Readers Respond: Are You an Atheist or Agnostic Who Feels Deeply Spiritual?

Responses: 34

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A significant percentage of atheists and agnostics in America say that they are deeply spiritual. Since spirituality is usually associated with theism and religion, this may seem like a contradiction, but spirituality is compatible with both atheism and agnosticism. It all depends on how you define spirituality.

Do you count yourself as one of the 25% of atheists and agnostics in America who feel deeply spiritual? Do you feel spiritual at all? Or do you reject spirituality in all its forms just as you reject theism and religion? Do you think it's good for atheists to feel deeply spiritual or do you think this might contradict atheism in some way? Share Your Story

Naturalism

Nature makes me lose my self in a larger sense that everything is ok. A mountain, a cloud, a particular vantage point above a cliff all remind me we have evolved from nature; nature is our home.
—Guest shaun

Pragmatic Darwinist

I've never been able to buy into the "have faith because there is no proof" spiritualism. As a kid in Sunday School I can remember thinking that what I was being told was a crock…a fantasy story. I never took it seriously. How could you? To those who are touched by the spirit and have used that belief to help, improve or enlighten their lives I say "more power to you". If it works for you then great. Just don't push it on me.
—PhotogGR

Spirituality

I believe this all leads back to how people individually define the word "spirituality". I personally see it as being something along the lines of being aware of your actions and emotions as well as strongly in tuned to the cause and effect of things; basically being conscious of the world around you. I would not say it has any reference to religion but some people might mark it as so. The way those people view it, I would just call it being "religious". -My Personal Views: I am an agnostic young adult/teenager who believes in some sort of life or consciousness after death (and as being agnostic, I don't believe in a God because I don't believe there is any way this "figure" can be proven to have ever existed, but I respect all religions and think it is possible that some natural/universal force may have some influence, as long as proof is provided, which none has so far). My mother's side of the family is Catholic and my father's side is Lutheran.
—Aspeni

Unique experiences defined as spiritual

Since William James documented the countless varieties of "spiritual" experiences in 1902, modern neuroscience has confirmed that humans have an area of the brain which displays certain patterns of activity when people have "spiritual" experiences, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. Belief in God or a spirit world is not necessary to experience a transcendent awe of life and the universe. I do not see any convincing, verifiable evidence that can answer the question as to whether God or an unseen spiritual world exists, and the several spiritual experiences I had when I was a convinced believer can all be explained by natural phenomenon. This does not prove there is no God, there may be, but neither does a spiritual feeling or experience prove there is a God. Yet, I stand in awe of this vast universe and the wonders of life and humanity and am motivated to treat others with tolerance and kindness, without the need of dogma or a religious text telling me I must do so.
—aahmused

Spiritual Atheists

This is like so much else in our culture, if you dont find your flavor....someone will make it for you. Atheism has never been associated with "spiritualism" until recently, and then only because of some who can't commit to Atheism. I dont include Agnostics, because they are just closet Atheists. To include spiritualism into your self-definition is to say that something beyond human experience is tenable and exists in reality. If one is willing to say that, then reality is relative and "anything goes".
—Guest Inquisition

Spiritual

I would agree that the word spiritual is very vague. It could either mean that you appreciate natural things, can understand "art" etc or it means you believe in faeries and such things or you are religious. A very useless word.
—Gaggia

Spiritualism in atheism/agnosticism

One of Webster's definition of spiritualism: The doctrine that reality is spiritual rather than material. In my opinion, voice of spirituality rises from reality called humanity. Atheists deny that spirituality is reality or vice versa. Agnostics like me care about reality and reality only.
—Guest Agnostic Adikesavan

Ex Christian now Atheist

Personally I think Spirituality is a myth. Even when I was a fundamental Christian I had problems coming to grips with the Spirit word. Hebrew God aka Jesus sort of stuff. Mediums and churches profit from this greatly, so it pays to make it seem a reality.
—Guest Jim Lee

It does indeed depend on the definition.

Is spirituality about having some sort of meaning in life accompanied by an aesthetic feeling? If so, then yes I am at least somewhat spiritual. I sometimes think about everything I understand about this world scientifically and I get this feeling of utter amazement with it all. All of the processes and mechanisms. It's so fascinating. So if that's what it means to be spiritual, then yes I am. However, if it means to believe in the existence of non-material, ghostly beings like an invisible, ethereal, heatless-fire-breathing dragon or some sky god, then no I'm not.
—Guest Thomas2000

Spirtituality "Energy"or consciousness?

No one can really know if there is such a collective conscience, the existence of a God or Gods,but as part of the human condition, we seem to be hard wired to seek something that will provide answers for us so we can feel we have a puopose for existing at all, right? At ;est I think so. Prosy;etizing is what bothers me most, as if anyone has the authority and the inside direct line to the creator or whatever each chooses ( or is born/indoctrinated into) to call it or them (polytheists et al.)and they are right , but you are not. For me I believe when the body dies, consciousness continues. To where I know not. Because of one life defining moment that chaged me forever.Of course it is intangible and without evidence or proof, but I believe that if one believes in Hellfire, than one is more likely to surpass it st death, or reincarnation, so on ad infinitum. I left my body once.no one can tell me I am wrong, I know that I will continue to be,continue, to? or dissipate, into the air .
—Guest Gwendolyn R. Witherup

Not sure I'd use that word, but . . .

I do not believe in a soul, or any binding force other than that we are all here, all mortal, and all share certain basic needs. I recognize and sympathize with your needs as I wish my needs to be recognized and treated with compassion. But I feel this not a connection of souls, but of my own need to achieve peace with myself by striving to make my own brief existence as rich and meaningful as possible.
—Guest emp 59

Spirituality without superstition

To me the “spirit” in spirituality has a lot to do with celebration of life and appreciation of our universe. Unfortunately almost all of the songs and rituals which express transcendent love, joy, or connection use religious imagery and symbols. When I am deeply moved I want to sing a spiritual, not a “rational." I often seem more grumpy than I really am those around me. It’s kind of like being at a Christmas party where everyone is running around exchanging presents, eating cookies, and looking forward to Santa Claus coming tomorrow. I’m the sourpuss who wanders around saying “He doesn’t really exist!” and “None of this is real!” The thing is, Santa can be a wonderful symbol of a generous holiday spirit, and for many people God is a symbol of hope, love, and charity even though traditional religious documents don’t really support this view. The quest is to connect to the Spirit without having to believe in a magical guy who judges you, the Santa/God figure.
—Guest Jim G.

Yes

We get caught up in words like"spiritual" which sounds kind of eerie, ghosty, non-materially. But I know that I do not know everything about the universe. It is not just this or that. Not just matter/energy, yes/no, ying/yang, 0/1. . .it is also the relationship between them, combination and maybe more than words can describe. Some Taoists sayings come to mind. But I guess if I were to try and answer how I felt spiritually it would be that in my world I am the center, and the way I connect with nature and feel a part of it and a trusting in the way things are. . . just the way everything is. SUCHNESS. When I feel one with that which is definately reality, I know I am whole and right just the way I am.
—Pffft2lind

Spiritual As Natural, No Magic Beings

I am an atheist yet I also consider myself spiritual. My spirituality, however, is not dependent upon dogma or superstition. Spirituality, to me, is the experience of a heightened aesthetic in which one perceives meaningfulness. This experience has far more to do with the observer than with anything observed. I find that I have this experience when I am in nature and also when I meditate regularly. It enhances my life by making me feel more peaceful and relaxed about my life and life in general. Best of all, I don't need mythical beings as part of the experience.
—Guest Brian Pocatello

Do You Believe In Spirituality?

What is spirituality? I understand the term 'spirituality' to mean a belief in an 'indwelling spirit' within us that we refer to as the 'soul'! The religious conceptions of the term, 'soul', varies with the religion professed by one. The followers of the Judaic religious tradition and its offshoots, Christianity and Islam, have one kind of conception and the Hindus, for instance, have another conception. According to one Hindu school of thought, the indwelling spirit,'Atman' is 'one and the same' as the 'Paramatman' or the 'Universal Spirit' while another school of thought holds them to be different and that the one has to 'attain the other' to reach a 'state of bliss' or 'salvation' from a 'cycle of birth and death' that the individual spirit undergoes in terms of its 'karma' -- good or bad actions and omissions --till through one of the recognized yogas or pathways, 'jnana' (intellect), 'bhakti' (devotion), 'karma' (doing one's duty), 'raja' (welfare action), one attains 'liberation'
—Guest Mayuram V.Sankaran

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Are You an Atheist or Agnostic Who Feels Deeply Spiritual?

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