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Thread: What is Spiritualiy ?

  1. #1 What is Spiritualiy ? 
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    Having no religious convictions, I wonder what other non-believers think about it. Some atheists still refer to spirituality. To what do they refer ? The answers given me by the faithful are easy enough to dispute; they are delusions, in my opinion. So why do some atheists regard spiritualism as distinct from religious faith ?


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    I've always seen spiritualism as a little worse if i'm honest. Religions as myth can be reduced to the time period they existed and have human advantages (i.e encouraging people not to have sex prior to contraception), spiritualism seems to be the belief in something that has no evidence or advantages... at least in things like the belief in ghosts. I can see how it could be comforting though...


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    Too me it's just one more common experience monopolized by religion which has screwed up our language and discussions based on real emotions and states.

    I'm one of those spiritual atheist.

    -It's the feeling of connectedness and sharing of grief when I see someone else in pain.
    -The feeling of being small, like when I would shelter beside my dad at the end of a breakwater during a winter storm, the harsh winds biting our faces and waves crashing and rumbling through our feet.
    -The feeling of awe just in knowing that each of us, you, me, my beloved pet Isaac, and the Indian plumb that harkins spring, all share a common ancestry of struggle and survival in an unbroken line of life going back to a common ancestor billions of years ago.

    Einstein referred to the same emotions of mystery as the "true cradle of art and science," and referred to himself as a "deeply religious man" even as he sharply denounced the trappings of traditional religions.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; March 10th, 2014 at 05:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Having no religious convictions, I wonder what other non-believers think about it. Some atheists still refer to spirituality. To what do they refer ? The answers given me by the faithful are easy enough to dispute; they are delusions, in my opinion. So why do some atheists regard spiritualism as distinct from religious faith ?
    You seem to be confusing spirituality, which I attempt to define below and spiritualism, which is a contrived belief in the ability of mediums to contact the dead.

    LF has given his version, none of which I disagree with. Here is another take.

    The spiritual is any experience which give us an awareness of and a connection with a perceived pattern within the universe that generates awe and wonder on account of its elegance and surprise and the recognition that while it is bigger than us we are part of it.
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    Yes, of course I agree with those definitions as stated. And I do share that awareness of the magnificence of it all; so, I AM spiritual ? Okay. I wish there were a different word for it, is all. It seems too...unscientific, for my tastes, but...Maybe I'm getting hung-up on etymology, or something. My view is that we are, indeed, made of star-stuff. This seems perfectly fine. But I've never thought myself spiritual . I may have been wrong. Thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Some atheists still refer to spirituality.
    .. So why do some atheists regard spiritualism as distinct from religious faith ?
    Spirituality: A belief that the unseen world is populated by spirits, both good and evil and these have influence over the affairs of Man. Power can be had by persuading the bad spirits to work under the guidance of the good ones, by 'magical' means. To get a full understanding of this you would have to consult ancient keys and grimoires. Utter nonsense of course.

    Now that we live in an increasing age of reason the word has changed its meaning to just about anything you like. As an example of this take the word 'awful'. Originally it meant the opposite to today's meaning (full of awe).

    Personally I get spirituality from reading books about the early history of mankind and how our species nearly died out on a number of occasions, but the fortitude and resiliance of our species prevailed. Did you know that the average global human population in the last half million years has only been ten thousand? We are lucky to be here at all. Chimps could be ruling the planet!

    Spiritualism: This is indeed different, and incredibly survives from Victorian times even today. Some of the wise and famous were taken in by it, but its no more than a magic trick.

    Faith: This is for fools who can provide no evidence for their weird and wonderful beliefs, and who try to make fools of the rest of us with their assertions that people live for over 900 years, are turned into pillars of salt, are virgin born, and even rise from the dead.
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    Ox that's a particularly narrow view of what spirituality is about...you've taken to the monopolization by religion of a natural psychological phenomena about how humans perceive themselves in their environment. You've also completely ducked the conversation (sigh).
    --

    A quick Sam Harris blog commentary about his idea of spiritual compared to that of Christopher Hitchens.
    "He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art. The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship. Hitch also used the terms “numinous” and “transcendent” to mark occasions of great beauty or significance—and for him the Hubble Deep Field was an example of both."

    In Defense of “Spiritual” : : Sam Harris
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Here is another take.

    The spiritual is any experience which give us an awareness of and a connection with a perceived pattern within the universe that generates awe and wonder on account of its elegance and surprise and the recognition that while it is bigger than us we are part of it.
    If you have no objections, I'd like to submit that we may perhaps also include the words "through time and space" when dealing with objects and places that when observed and/or in direct tactile contact with connects us to a specific event or person(s).

    From a fine arts background, those are some sensations that are brought to mind when in the presence and viewing an historical piece of work or listening to an original musical composition performance recording. Something I've always wondered if felt when astronomers are viewing a distant celestial object through one of their powerful telescopes, archaeologists when holding in their hands a piece of historical artifact or ancient fossil, or even midwives when holding a new born baby as a connection to a possible future when they themselves are no longer around, or simply when visiting a tombstone.

    Just some thoughts on what I'd personally consider to be of spiritual essence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship.
    That's pretty obvious. living in Britain I don't know anybody who believes in the existence of the goddess Britannia, so we should be able to rule that out of what spirituality means.
    Britannia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art.
    Poetry, according to Paul Dirac, is incompatible with science, so we should rule that out (science simplifies the world; poetry complicates it).
    Science will be the new spirituality when we finally kick out religion, ideology and pseudoscience.
    As for symmetry, some people's faces are beautifully symmetrical, but that doesn't imply spirituality. It implies good genes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship.
    That's pretty obvious. living in Britain I don't know anybody who believes in the existence of the goddess Britannia, so we should be able to rule that out of what spirituality means.
    Britannia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art.
    Poetry, according to Paul Dirac, is incompatible with science, so we should rule that out (science simplifies the world; poetry complicates it).
    Science will be the new spirituality when we finally kick out religion, ideology and pseudoscience.
    As for symmetry, some people's faces are beautifully symmetrical, but that doesn't imply spirituality. It implies good genes.
    clearly you can't comprehend abstract thought or understand the importance of the arts so i'll just leave this here for you to get angry about:

    this world is not conclusion
    a species stands beyond -
    invisible, as music -
    but positive as sound -

    it beckons, and it baffles
    philosophy - don't know -
    and through a riddle, at the last -
    sagacity must go -

    to guess it, puzzles scholars -
    to gain it, men have borne
    contempt of generations
    and crucifixion, shown -

    faith slips - and laughs, and rallies -
    blushes, if any see -
    plucks at a twig of evidence -
    and asks a vane, the way -

    much gesture, from the pulpit -
    strong hallelujahs roll -
    narcotics cannot still the tooth
    that nibbles at the soul -

    I do not believe that scientism would create a better world, science is for objective truth, but human beings are not brute machines and have meanings far deeper that we ourselves create.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship.
    That's pretty obvious. living in Britain I don't know anybody who believes in the existence of the goddess Britannia, so we should be able to rule that out of what spirituality means.
    Britannia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Because you are using the same narrow religious bound definition that you posted rather than the definition of the psychological experience that OP, I, Harris, Hitchens, and Scooby, Galt and others are talking about in the thread.

    He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art.
    Poetry, according to Paul Dirac, is incompatible with science, so we should rule that out (science simplifies the world; poetry complicates it).
    Poetry is real and results in real emotions in people--being a natural phenomena it automatically can be a subject of scientific study. Nothing real (the experience) is incompatible with science.


    As for symmetry, some people's faces are beautifully symmetrical, but that doesn't imply spirituality. It implies good genes.
    Again you are missing the point. It's more about the experience--the emotions, not as much about evoked that experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship.
    That's pretty obvious. living in Britain I don't know anybody who believes in the existence of the goddess Britannia, so we should be able to rule that out of what spirituality means.
    Britannia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Because you are using the same narrow religious bound definition that you posted rather than the definition of the psychological experience that OP, I, Harris, Hitchens, and Scooby, Galt and others are talking about in the thread.

    He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art.
    Poetry, according to Paul Dirac, is incompatible with science, so we should rule that out (science simplifies the world; poetry complicates it).
    Poetry is real and results in real emotions in people--being a natural phenomena it automatically can be a subject of scientific study. Nothing real (the experience) is incompatible with science.


    As for symmetry, some people's faces are beautifully symmetrical, but that doesn't imply spirituality. It implies good genes.
    Again you are missing the point. It's more about the experience--the emotions, not as much about evoked that experience.
    Are things the mind creates not real? Does the fact I can construct a unicorn in my mind not say something about its contingency (i.e it is composed of already existing animal parts, such as a horse)? And in this sense does this not make your entire point redundant? As it would imply everything is compatible with science.

    Ox seems not to understand the concept of embeding meaning into objects, which is certainly real, a necklace I get from my mother has meaning far beyond its physical properties.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trivium View Post
    Are things the mind creates not real? Does the fact I can construct a unicorn in my mind not say something about its contingency (i.e it is composed of already existing animal parts, such as a horse)? And in this sense does this not make your entire point redundant? As it would imply everything is compatible with science.

    Ox seems not to understand the concept of embeding meaning into objects, which is certainly real, a necklace I get from my mother has meaning far beyond its physical properties.
    The unicorn is a real perception within the person's brain--not something real outside of the brain. Perceptions in the brain can be studied because they are real; Unicorns cannot be studied because they are not real.

    You can extend this to anything: Perceptions of ghost can be studied because they are real: Ghost cannot be studied because they are not real.

    Poetry can be studied in both ways--both as an object that is real, and as a perception in people who read it--as well as why one results in the other. In my case weather evokes a spiritual response in me (and others)--weather is a subject of study and my perception could also be studied (what the OP is about IMO). Interestingly without that spiritual perception evoked by weather, I doubt I ever would have studied it.
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    These are all wonderful responses, and I appreciate them very much, though no consensus seems apparent on the question of Spirituality. I feel I'm back where I started. I have read Harris and Hitchens and

    Dawkins and even Aquinas, and I cannot seem to move closer, except "conceptually", to understanding. I question whether we are disputing semantics rather than whether Spirituality is "real" or ought to be

    considered so. It does seem that "Spirituality" is some sort of relic, or the residue of Faith 'surrendered'. I guess this is my problem. I share the awe the spiritual-minded feel about the natural world; be I do not

    believe in Spirits. I might accept the notion of "Spirituality" if a different word can be found to describe it. For myself, there is only the natural world and those aspects of it we don't yet understand.
    Last edited by umbradiago; March 13th, 2014 at 04:49 PM. Reason: Again, transposed terms.
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    I've been it's a belief in natural forces, but then the divine and atheism are not compatible by definition.

    That said, people who are spiritual aren't good at heart, so I don't care what they do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarnamluvu View Post
    I've been it's a belief in natural forces, but then the divine and atheism are not compatible by definition.

    That said, people who are spiritual aren't good at heart, so I don't care what they do.
    And the first post after coming back from suspension for three days is yet one more demonstration of being a trolling sphincter?
    Goodbye.

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    Oh, I didn't know I transposed those terms til now. no, I meant spirituality both times. I completely agree with everything you stated. Reading history and archeology has been kind of a pleasure for me as well
    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Some atheists still refer to spirituality.
    .. So why do some atheists regard spiritualism as distinct from religious faith ?
    Spirituality: A belief that the unseen world is populated by spirits, both good and evil and these have influence over the affairs of Man. Power can be had by persuading the bad spirits to work under the guidance of the good ones, by 'magical' means. To get a full understanding of this you would have to consult ancient keys and grimoires. Utter nonsense of course.

    Now that we live in an increasing age of reason the word has changed its meaning to just about anything you like. As an example of this take the word 'awful'. Originally it meant the opposite to today's meaning (full of awe).

    Personally I get spirituality from reading books about the early history of mankind and how our species nearly died out on a number of occasions, but the fortitude and resiliance of our species prevailed. Did you know that the average global human population in the last half million years has only been ten thousand? We are lucky to be here at all. Chimps could be ruling the planet!

    Spiritualism: This is indeed different, and incredibly survives from Victorian times even today. Some of the wise and famous were taken in by it, but its no more than a magic trick.

    Faith: This is for fools who can provide no evidence for their weird and wonderful beliefs, and who try to make fools of the rest of us with their assertions that people live for over 900 years, are turned into pillars of salt, are virgin born, and even rise from the dead.
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    What realy is spritual being, there is no proof of ghosts, of God or Heaven and Hell. ?
    No other dimension to speak about, but still, the Human race clings on to such notions, HOPE must be the meaning. I wonder
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    Kinda' what I'm getting at: Don't know if the persistence of the term, Spirituality, is "Hope" or just habit, tradition. Maybe I'm just quibbling.
    Quote Originally Posted by Genesis View Post
    What realy is spritual being, there is no proof of ghosts, of God or Heaven and Hell. ?
    No other dimension to speak about, but still, the Human race clings on to such notions, HOPE must be the meaning. I wonder
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    Quote Originally Posted by Genesis View Post
    What realy is spritual being,
    Me.

    there is no proof of ghosts, of God or Heaven and Hell. ?
    There doesn't have to be because the term spirit doesn't necessarily involve anything supernatural. In fact under common definitions isn't often used to describe the psychology (thoughts, feelings, etc) of what drives people to action.
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    Spirituality.....

    being on a golf course late in the afternoon surrounded by nature and it's creatures and MARVELING at this world we livein

    Looking up at full moon with a sky stacked in stars

    Watching the waves and marveling at the power of the ocean

    feeling emotions....all of them

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    I have had a spiritual experience in my life.

    I was deputized to provide a hammer, and nails of the correct type (the First People recognize the differences in the sexes without either denigrating the other) for folks to add their personal energy to Shane Eagleton's Healing Pole for Bill Graham's memorial, and the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing. Women pounded copper nails into the female symbol, and men silver nails into the male symbol. (I actually got zinc plated nails; there weren't any silver plated ones. The shamen checked and said it was OK to use zinc instead because it was the right color.) I was there for three days, and then again when several First People Nations' shamen congregated and we consecrated it. Then again finally when it was set up and dedicated by the shamen of the nations at dawn six months later. I still have the picture of my wife and I at the dedication.

    You can go to Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View California today and see the Healing Pole. Shane gave me a chip from it, that he'd carved, with a memorial to Bill Graham for my wife who worked for him. It stands over my door and has in every house I have lived in since.
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