Sunday, February 22, 2009

This atheist's New Year's resolutions (part 2)

In an earlier post, I outlined three areas in which I in particular, and maybe atheists in general, can improve as we interact with theists. I continue with the following:

4. Finding a common cause
Is it possible that atheists and theists can find a common cause to fight for? The only reason why Christians can enjoy church services in countries like South Africa or the United States without being beaten or killed for their beliefs, and the only reason why atheists can live their lives without being stoned or executed for their perceived godlessness, is due to the fact that all of us living in these countries are protected by an important clause written within in our respective constitutions: the freedom of conscience. This clause guarantees that each individual can choose – for themselves – their own religious (or non-religious) beliefs, without fear of persecution.

It might seem odd that I, as an atheist, would go all out to encourage religious freedom in my country. But there are two sides to this coin: what protects the Christian in this case also protects the atheist; freedom of religion also implies freedom from religion. Of course, it is not often easy trying to balance these two sides in society, but freedom of conscience is general principle that should be nurturedand protected, if need beby theists and atheists alike.

5. Spirituality
One of the surprising things that I've learnt since I left Christianity is that religion and spirituality are not the same thing. Religion is a specific worldview concerning itself with the supernatural, and more specifically with a god. Spirituality, on the other hand, is more basic, as it involves struggling with questions related to finding meaning in life, and determining one's place in the greater scheme of things
irrespective of one's worldview.

I've changed my views regarding spirituality, and as I've explained here, although I'm no longer religious, I still acknowledge that I'm a 'spiritual' being, in a sense that I am able to search for my own individual place in this vast and ancient universe. And acknowledging my spirituality enables me to find some common ground with theists.

In the next post, I will cover the last three areas of possible improvement.

10 comments:

CyberKitten said...

kevin said: I still acknowledge that I'm a 'spiritual' being, in a sense that I am able to search for my own individual place in this vast and ancient universe. And acknowledging my spirituality enables me to find some common ground with theists.

I think that all depends on what you mean by 'spiritual'. It often feels to me that some Atheists - though not necessarily you - seem to want to reject their cakes and still eat them. Maybe we just need another more secular word to describe what it is I think you mean when you say spiritual?

Krista Smith said...

One of my favorite definitions of spirituality. Thank you.

Lorena said...

Yes, it would be nice if we atheists were able to unite in a common cause. But, is it only my experience or do most of us tend to be difficult to deal with creatures?

I have a better idea. I think we should join the secular world, not necessarily atheists. I think we should create more non-religious organizations to do those things the religious have always been in charge of. Doctors Without Borders, I believe, is an example of such an organization--though I could be wrong.

But really, wouldn't it be nice if the helping-the-poor efforts came from seculars rather than Christians? We need to push them out by taking over. How about religion-free rehab programs for drug addicts?

Anwar said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Elaina

http://www.craigslistpostingtools.info

sunnyskeptic said...

I work with many faith groups in all sorts of capacities, and I have no problem with it as long as their outcome and intent is secular. It is possible. I have never been made to feel bad that I am an atheist. Oh, and I'm quite a militant, activist atheist as well. So we're not all difficult to get along with. :)

Karla said...

What do you mean by spiritual? Doesn't that enter the realm of the supernatural? If you are accepting humans as physical and spiritual beings you aren't adhering to naturalism, but accepting a metaphysical reality. What would be the point of that metaphysical reality within ourselves without a Metaphysical Creator?

Might I suggest that your contention with religion is "religiousness" such as legalism and rules for righteousness rather than spirituality? If so, we are indeed in agreement, I being a Christian, and you an atheists. I don't like religiousness either. I don't think Jesus did either. And I am most certainly for freedom of religion and freedom not to believe. America was founded on this idea because of her Christian heritage not despite it.

CyberKitten said...

Karla said: What would be the point of that metaphysical reality within ourselves without a Metaphysical Creator?

The existence of a metaphysical reality does not *necessarily* imply the existence of God.

Spirituality can be interpreted very broadly which is why I don't like using the term. It just means too much to too many people.

Lorena said...

Spirituality can be interpreted very broadly which is why I don't like using the term. It just means too much to too many people.

Love that! I call spirituality to being in touch with the deepest parts of myself. I feel spiritual when I at the opera or when listening to classical music, when I sense all the feelings that are stirred within me. I call it spiritual because, frankly, I don't know what else to call that stuff.

I'll make this into a blog entry. Thank you for the idea.

Karla said...

So people who don't believe we have spirits like to use the word spiritual for you don't have something natural to impute those experiences.

CyberKitten said...

Oh, I'm sure that there's a better word for us Atheists to use out there somewhere. Afterall there's a word for everything it would seem.

Spirituality is certainly I would I don't like using - the same with miracle.