The spiritual atheist

I understand the definition that an atheist does not believe in deities. But can an atheist be spiritual? I am not just referring to morals and values. For instance, have you read the book The Secret or are you familiar with the Law of Attraction? Like that stuff, and meditation, etc.? Do atheists believe that these things work? And how about a consciousness. I do not know if you have ever read the Bhagavad Gita, but Krishna talks about your True Self. Can a person believe in this True Self that is apparently within us and connects with everything in the universe and still be called an atheist? Because, in some way, one can say that this consciousness that exists in the entire universe, this enlightened… consciousness energy can be what most religions describe as god although in this theory god isn’t actually a personified being. So I believe my question is: Can one believe in this and be called an atheist?

The difficulty here is drawing a line between believing in deities and believing in non-divine paranormal things.

Let’s start out with The Secret or the Law of Attraction. If you believe that there is a natural law whereby good things will tend to happen to good people, then you can also be an atheist. However, you are also stuck with the problem of defining “good” in such a way that it can be associated with an unthinking physical force (in the same way that mass is associated with gravity), and I think that may be an insurmountable problem.

An atheist might also believe that the human mind can cause things to happen by using thoughts to change the world at a quantum level. This does not agree with objective evidence, but believing something contrary to evidence does not automatically disqualify one from being an atheist.

An atheist might meditate as a form of relaxation. But if someone is meditating in an attempt to connect with an eternal universal consciousness of some kind, that doesn’t sound very atheistic to me.

An atheist might also feel connected to the rest of the universe — after all, matter does impact other matter and it might be said that even a butterfly can effect the weather. An atheist might even believe that there is a physical way in which all minds connect to become some kind of universal consciousness, so long as this consciousness doesn’t have an existence apart from this mental connection. You posit that such a group consciousness might be “what most religions describe as god,” but I don’t see how that can be the case since most religions consider their god to have created the universe, and if you believe in a consciousness that is older than life in the universe, you’re likely not an atheist.

I hope this helps.

Posted on July 13, 2009 at 10:51 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: About atheism

4 Responses

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  1. Written by A Hosein
    on July 15, 2009 at 7:19 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thanks! What you say makes sense. It really is sometimes diffucult to draw such a line, I agree.

    The problem most people have with atheists – and I supposed you’ve already realised this – is since they disbelieve in God, they therefore are unholy, not good, etc. Thus, they must be evil. But it’s not so black and white. You could still believe in the good of humanity, have morals, and be humane, or what not.
    I appreciate your website. You have interesting discussions and bring people to a better understanding of who atheists really are. I personally do not believe in atheism, but I refuse to judge. To each, his own. And you really are not doing anything morally wrong. So, thank you. This was really helpful.
    You seem to be very educated and mature. You have done your research well with respect to deciding your beliefs. And I really respect that.
    Well, this comment is way long! I’ll end it here. And, once again, thank you!

  2. Written by Jim Turpen
    on July 19, 2009 at 9:31 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Consciousness has been tackled by some of the great minds: Descartes kicked off the whole sha-bang by claiming, “I think therefore I am;” Freud decided consciousness wasn’t important, but unconsciousness was; Marx argued “Consciousness is merely false consciousness.” But, as far as “enlightened consciousness energy,” I would have to side with Skinner, who said, “Consciousness? Can you see it? Measure it? Pass it around? Then how is it different from something that doesn’t exist at all?” If atheists are to refuse existence of god based on lack of proof or unbelievability, then they should reject a universal spirituality for the same reasons.

    That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

  3. Written by Richard Ward
    on January 31, 2010 at 7:08 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I am an atheist but am a very spiritual person. I look into the night sky or the Grand Canton and am moved by the vastness and age of these things: feel a connectedness with them that needs no creator to give them anygreater meaning than they have in their own right. These ancient wonders and the natural world in general give me context. I’m just passing through and that’s ok, that’s just fine. As you say of atheists in your article, I dont see the appeal of living forever but take great comfort in seeing the mountains around me on the small island on which I live and know that countless generations before me worked this land, seeing the same topography, and that countless more will follow me. Some atheists, like Dawkin’s may be devoid of awareness on an emotional level but we are not all the same. Try to remember that we are not monsters, we just don’t need a creator. Whether you agree with us or not, it all makes sense to us without one, that’s all

  4. Written by Terry Mitchell
    on January 22, 2011 at 10:59 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I have been an Atheist since 1999 and Ive quite spiritual, affiiliated with the Unitarian Universalist church, I have ritual times, I meditate, dance, chant, read, listen to new age music/native american music, I have been known to drum, trance, creative visualizations, etc

    None of it to me is mystical, its grounded in psychology for me and The Physical as each of these practices and ideas help me emotionally or are good for me in some way.

    Meditation calms me, dance is good for my feet and to lose weight (32 pounds so far just from walking and dancing), Taking a whole day of Ritual away from life helps me come back stronger and more able the next day when I have to face the stresses of life.

    I definately do not believe in any God or gods, I reject all notions of the supernatural and Im a skeptic and as far as I know I am not superstitious.

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