Spiritual Atheists?

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by Blake Bowden, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    Can an atheist be spiritual?
  2. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

    I don't think so. I think if they can express spirituality through science only, its perfectly possibly - but it seems more like a person who wants to be called an Atheist more than actually be one.

    I do believe you can find spirituality in science, but once you do, believe not calling it spirit is arbitrary.
  3. dhouseholder

    dhouseholder Registered User

    Atheism is not the worship of science, it is merely not having a belief in God. There are plenty of Buddhists who believe in higher levels of existence (a Spiritual realm) but do not believe in God per se. The problem ultimately rests in the definition of God. I think that it is safe to say that all Theists are Spiritual, but not all Spiritualists are Theistic.
  4. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

    I don't think I've ever heard Buddhists put in the category of atheist. Not to say this applies to you, but I've had many conversations where there is a tendency to force the definition of God into a Judeo Christian, or Christian paradigm.

    I think the formal definition is a lack of believe in God, for Atheists, but I also think its a belief in spirit. Or, belief in divinity. http://www.atheists.org/atheism/About_Atheism

    When describing atheism, they refer to Theists as their opposing side. (at least in the past link)

    I did over emphasize the importance of science. I just have seen it as their reflexive crutch over the many years. People feel empowered when they quote science and sneer at others. (Both sides of Global warming can likely witness this in themselves and others.)
  5. dhouseholder

    dhouseholder Registered User

    Pardon me for citing Wikipedia, but I think that a light-hearted conversation is a good place for it.

    I think that some concepts of the philosophy are indeed without a Supreme God.

    Right. I agree. I think that the definition of God should really be hammered out by someone before someone can ultimately say that there is not one. Specifically, I can pretty much say that Buddhists do not ascribe the the Judeo-Christian principles of God.

    See, to me, that is more indicative of a Skeptic Atheist. One who holds the cold, hard facts of science to be the end-all explanation of all. A belief in the Spirit does not require a belief in God.

    To be honest, I see that as one guys take on atheism. Atheism is not a formal religion, therefore one man can not speak for them all. I am not saying that Spiritual Atheism is the most common, but I am saying that philosophically, it is not contradictory.

    Then I think you might have come across Skeptical Atheists. These are individuals who reject all supernaturality.

    According to the Wikipedia article... ]In Western culture, atheists are frequently assumed to be exclusively irreligious or unspiritual. However, religious and spiritual belief systems such as forms of Buddhism that do not advocate belief in gods, have also been described as atheistic.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  6. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

    Unlike many, I've read the studies showing Wikipedia is on par with other encyclopedias. They just don't have white coat syndrome to endorse them.

    No apologies, I'm also familiar with their editorial policies recurring footnotes and citations or noting when they are absent. I would like to see more masons edit Wikipedia on masonic topics. It's needed.

    I think it's a western habit to call it a philosophy. And while I acknowledge there is a western Buddhism will acknowledge my bigotry against the tendency of the West to take spirituality and secularize it into a giant metaphor.

    If you are talking about some Western Buddhists, I'll acknowledge the atheistic style, just as I've served many secular Jews during holidays that ask for non-kosher meals on matzoh bread.

    And Judeo heavily disagrees with the Christian view and vice -versa.

    No, but there is a belief in spirit. That whole article addresses a belief in God or Theism at the very least. In the article you cited, the only quote on atheism is "At the outset, let me state that Buddhism is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God." The "problem" of God in Buddhism as far as I can tell in that article has to do with the attempt to reconcile it with Judeo-Christian expectations. By whose definition is God the creator, for instance.

    I've never seen a buddhist who thought they were an atheist, not the article you cited, not the temple I mediated in, not my buddhist friends.

    I think you can secularize any religion, and if Buddism is represented as a philosophy instead of a religion (it's always one of the religions in depth in the worlds religions classes and books) m then its a secularized version of a religion. I get the same thing when I hear priests speak of the Bible (Jesus) "not understanding mental illness and mistaken demons for brain malfunction.

    What is the place of ancestors in Buddhism? Of blessed teachers of exceptional value? Of spirit? "Spiritual Atheism" is a qualifier. Its not Atheism. It has a qualifier because it needs one to further its self explanation. I acknowledge some may call themselves Spiritual Atheists and that some of them may use Buddhism as their basis, but I see no basis in the idea that Buddhist over the thousands of years would attach to the idea "there is no god" or any common connotation of the word atheist. I'm open to citations of the Buddha or other learned teachers preceding western exposure on that matter. There are thousands of years to pull from.

    Another qualifier. With all due respect, show me a group that simply calls themselves atheists and acknowledges spirit. Groups have the right to define themselves, but in doing so, become that defining group.

    I'll tell you my peeve on this to be open. Satanists. You would think someone who calls themselves a satanist would have a backbone, but there us a constant refrain of "well, we aren't Satan worshippers....., etc, etc" and people who fall under some religious groups who selected the label "witch" for themselves and then complain about the stereotype.

    When did spiritual people start attaching to the label Atheist? It is not in the etymology and historical self-use of the word. let me know if there is contradicting information on that.

    By who? Critical identity is a lovely field I love to explore and have due to my own identity, spiritual and physical.

    There are thousands of years of writings by Buddhists. Lots of quotes from the east to self identify as not believing in God.

    If "Spiritual Atheists" get to self identify, let eastern buddhists to the same. I'll submit at a moments notice that western buddhists are secular and atheistic. But need more information on eastern acknowledgement of that label.
  7. dhouseholder

    dhouseholder Registered User

    I said this below, so I will now say it as above. (Not to get all Hermetic :biggrin:)

    I think my main argument in this entire post is that Spiritual Atheism, purely as a philosophical concept, can exist; whether or not anyone practices it, I can not say.

    Well then what should it be called?

    A metaphor for what?

    Then those secular Jews are not what I am talking about. I am talking about a religion that does not fully acknowledge an omniscient, omni-benevolent, omnipresent, creator being.

    Again, we see the problem of the definition of God that limits us in our attempt to define one who does not believe in God.

    Agreed, which still does not preclude a belief in Spirit. And, we can not assume that this man speaks for all atheists, or even with authority.

    I think that we are really splitting hairs here. Without a working definition of God, we really cannot proceed.

    ...and those classes are usually taught be western professors ant western universities.



    If that is the case then atheism is a qualifier as well. The "a" in front of the word means "without", therefore it is qualifying another word. Language is very important.

    That does not mean that it is wrong.

    Common connotation to us, westerners? We are applying Western concepts to an Eastern philosophy. Apples to oranges. They have a radically different concept of the divine; radically different than that of Judeo-Christianity.

    Indeed there are. And I will gladly let anyone else step forth and tackle that monumental challenge! ;)

    Qualifiers do not equal wrongness. It just means we don't have a word for it yet. The Cherokees had 6 different words for sunrise. American English has only one. Sunrise.

    If I can't does that mean that Spiritual Atheism can not exist?

    Two things. 1) There are a few different flavors of that group. Some worship Satan, obviously the Judeo-Christian adversary; others worship their Divine Ego and call themselves Satanists because of what, philosophically,their interpretation of Satan to the Bible was. 2) My problem with the first group is, why the hell would you want to join the losing side of a religion? Its like betting on a losing horse after the results of the race were shown. My problem with the second group is they deny the divinity of anything else. Ultimately it is solipsism; which incidentally, is one of their "sins". But solipsism is a really entirely different discussion...

    I think most Wiccans (who I am pretty sure you are talking about) embrace the term. The problem, I think, is when people use it in a derogatory term. It is like the contemporary African-American usage of the "N" word.

    To be honest, most of what I am saying comes from my own reasoning, not from historical or academic precedent. I think my main argument in this entire post is that Spiritual Atheism, purely as a philosophical concept, can exist; whether or not anyone practices it, I can not say.

    You got me, it is a Wiki article. Identity is indeed interesting, and really, what is at the root of that field is language. Language governs identity.
  8. MGM357

    MGM357 Registered User

    Here's my opinion, I'll try not to use very many five dollar words.

    An athiest believes in no form of diety. They understand this earth, the heavens and all things was created without any divine creation. When they die, they just die. No spirtual ascending or descending. To ne it's a sad way to live, not to have any reward for trrying to live a good life here on earth. They kind of live a boring life. During troubled times, if there is no diety, how can they cope without prayer? I wonder if an athiest ever became a believer the moment before their time was up?

    These are just my thoughts, I don't know much about an athiest, and that's allright with me.

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