Can an atheist be spiritual?

“Visualising spirits, or spiritual energy, can be tremendously helpful in some circumstances (martial arts, for instance, or meditation) even if you don’t accept for a second that there’s anything really there.”

Question from Ace:
I attend my local Unitarian Universalist church, engage in or observe other people’s ceremonies and Celebrations and once a week I have my own ‘Ritual’ Day where I might light some candles, Incense and Sage to set the mood, Meditate, Read, Dance, Drum, Garden, Do Yoga and engage in many other Practices that would help me to feel re-connected to myself and able to go back out into life the next day…
I do not believe in any God or gods of ANY Kind-Not The Universe, Not Nature, Not God is within or God is love, I also do not believe in the supernatural-No Ghosts or Angels, Magick or Prayer, I am not superstitious as far as I know..I have tried to ignore and deny these needs and desires to be involved in these Rituals and Celebrations and I have even explored different traditions such as Buddhism, Pantheism, Paganism and Though each of them can be Atheistic I dont find them to be a complete fit and they still have beliefs and practices that are outside of common sense and logic for me…Help!

I think you answer your own question, by being a very spiritual atheist. The rituals and activities you mention all have documented benefits for the human body and/or mind, and do not require supernatural assistance to be useful or pleasurable.

Visualising spirits, or spiritual energy, can be tremendously helpful in some circumstances (martial arts, for instance, or meditation) even if you don’t accept for a second that there’s anything really there. This is what a lot of people think of as spirituality.

Get on Google and read some articles by Sam Harris. He’s one of the four major “New Atheists”, but he takes from Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies a great deal of instruction in spirituality. He actually catches a great deal of guff for it from other atheists, but I don’t think he’s actually contradicting himself.


2 thoughts on “Can an atheist be spiritual?”

  1. Your entire posting very deeply reached out and spoke to me. I grew up in a household in which we didn’t start going to church until I was in highschool other than VBS every other summer or so; then when we did attend church my Dad stayed home and watched sports all day. I wanted to instill religion in my three children so my oldest attended, loved and was baptized into the Methodist Church when we were living in the Deep South nearly a decade ago and my two younger children, 9 and 13 (boy, girl, respectively) really have no desire to attend church and their Dad is against it but my oldest son, who was Methodist for several years, is now 18 years old and an atheist like me but what’s interesting is how I have never told him I am. He figured out his beliefs on his own. I’m not sure why I don’t believe in God–mostly I think it’s because in my eyes it’s crazy stupid how people flock together like herded sheep and act all holier than thou every Sunday even though those same parents gossip behind everyone’s backs and scram holler and curse at their children…not to mention everyone I know just about has had at least one affair during their marriage…I just think people have this need to flock together and feel like they are following some greater more powerful being out there and they don’t even know why nor can they explain it, like explain it to defend their beliefs. Most religious folks I don’t even think are aware what their beliefs are! So, your spirituality and frank honesty in your post was a breath of fresh air 🙂 Thank you! I would like to pick your brain a little bit to be honest, because I do have questions that have never found anyone to ask. About religion.

  2. Hi Jen. I’m not entirely sure whether you’re speaking to Ace or me, but feel free to carry on a conversation in the comments. If your questions are suitable, post them separately and I’ll get to them.

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