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

Responses: 37


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

spiritual practices

When I left my religion and lost belief in God and the supernatural, I never lost my love for Ritual. I I meditate, contemplate, listen to new age music, spirit dance, light candles, go for nature walks (though I do not consider nature to be sacred so thats why I am not a Pagan or Pantheist). I burn incense and even sage to cleanse my home of emotional energies which I realize is completely psychodrama. I have a fountain that I sit by and do a tea ceremony as well. As for atheism, I am 100% an atheist, I reject all forms of woo. I am also a staunch skeptic and rationalist.
—Guest Madison


I see myself as an atheist, but I have always felt there is someone watching over me and mine, whoever she is.
—Guest Jimmy

Agnostic Humanist

I'm an agnostic who's pro-sentient, in the traditions of Bertrand Russel, Robert Ingersoll, Carl Sagan and George Carlin... I find myself at times defending faith or ethics traditions out of principle. I just wish faith traditions would take that effort to define etymologies and meanings more explicitly... I think there are other forms of life out there, just look at the Drake Equation, and other dimensions... that we are fundamentally ways for the Self to know itself. So if we recall Arthur C Clarke and M Theory, there certainly could be other beings out there with tech... I'm not sure how a being/lifeform that is outside of that reality might function... a supra-universal being, if such a thing could exist. I'm also a pluralist in the sense that whatever 'truth' is, there must be multiple versions and ways of arriving at results. Sarkar's work was also influential... Deities get blamed far too often for constraints that are strongly human/natural in origin and human imposed...
—Guest John Smith


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.


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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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Are You an Atheist or Agnostic Who Feels Deeply Spiritual?

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