A contradiction in terms? Perhaps, however, what word would be used otherwise to describe the state of, in a sense,  being aware of being the universe, being aware of its self? And further of that awareness being an influential  factor in a persons behavior?

Or in other words what word to use, to describe someone whose fundamental interpretation of reality, is an active part of their awareness? In non-atheists it is called spirituality, personally I have no problem with atheistic spirituality, it seems to do the job for me; however it could be problematic. I'm curious what other folks here think.

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Evolutionary psychology is obscure at the best of times, but I don't know of anyone other than Jaynes who is suggesting any major events more recent than 10,000 years.  In one criticism someone actually pointed out that the earliest records of the Giglamesh Epic pre-dating is proposed psychic-shift, and he proceeded to suggest the earliest versions lacked introspection.  That is only one account, although I have no reason to disbelieve it, and it would seem that Jaynes felt language and even writing could have arisen before his bicaremal shift, which I would need profound evidence to even consider.

(Reply to Oneinfinity, sorry don't know how I managed to get this out of order, but it was resistant to numerous attempts to fix it.)

"I think, like others have said, that the problem with the term "spirituality" is that it seems to be tied too closely to non-materialistic world views."

Certainly this is a big part of my concern; however, as I've been attending to this notion a lot more since starting this thread, I wonder if we are perhaps being hyper sensitive to this connotation of the word. After all there are already a number of secular uses, spirit of the times, The Spirit of 76, and so on.

Your experience of being outside at night, is the same type of experience that led to me finally coming out to myself after a nearly six month internal war with my former fundamental interpretation of reality.

""is this spiritual?" If not, what? I don't know what else to call it."

Yea, amen and hallejweirdja! That is exactly it, there is, in my opinion, a great need for us to be able to express that, and this is the reasoning that tends me towards just saying to hell with the dualists, I'm using it anyway.


It would never have crossed my mind that using this word would be an issue at all. But it seems that the use of the concepts of spirit (from spirare, breathing), spirituality and inspiration as being central to science is being pushed by the Templeton Foundation.  This of course with the motive to corrupt science, as a project necessarily leading to the truth of (Christian) religion, in their characteristically subtle mode of operation.

Since the words are so interwoven with every day language (aspiration, conspiracy, transpiration, perspiration) it is easy and natural to use the word spiritual or spirituality to express and emphasize a sense of awe or wonder so great that sometimes it can be overwhelming and emotional. It is pretty common though I'd think. But the option to religiously charge language that is used in a completely different sense, leaves open the possibility for manipulation of public opinion and this has apparently been recognized by the Templeton strategists in this case.

Those bastards!

I once had a bumper sticker,


I took it off after a cop in CA pulled me over to explain what it meant. But there are times that one could almost be tempted.

As far as a word, how about a 'cosmic awareness' or 'feeling of cosmic grounding' or 'feeling of cosmic proportionality'?
How about Saganistic?  Feeling a sense of Saganality, or experiencing Saganism?

Well...  I signed up just to put my 2 cents worth in on this subject... (thanx again, Stumbleupon!)


If we define the word "Spirituality" as "a feeling of being connected to or part of a much larger background that is beyond our ability to completely comprehend" then I don't think we have any problem with the concept of Atheistic Spirituality. And, if we wanna get REALLY out there and make a larger leap, we could think upon how we're all the product of the monoblock's explosion. How the "miracle" of our existence and sapiency is merely the product of the dance of the quanta...  In essence, we ARE all connected to EVERYTHING in at least that tiny little incredibly significant way...


I actually had to confront this when I read the explanation written by Neil Peart for Rush's "Snakes and Arrows" tour pamphlet. In it, he described one of the songs as a "secular prayer." Perhaps this seeming contradiction in terms would be easy for most atheists to accept, but it sure threw me for a loop.... Then, after reading "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett, I had the answer... I'll paraphrase what was said... (mostly cuz I'm too lazy to look it up)  "You do know how to pray, don't you? You get down on your knees, put your hands together... and hope."


I hope this helps someone... Especially if they dealt with a similar problem... I hope it gives people more incentive to pay attention to Rush lyrics and read Terry Pratchett, too....


Peart is an incredible lyricist and definitely delivered Rush from being 'just another hair band' way back when.  I still like the idea of calling it Saganality, however, and belief in it Saganism.

"She peered into the night sky and was filled with a Saganistic glee!"


:D although, I'm not sure how Carl would feel about something called, "Saganism."


[You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;

I will choose a path that's clear,

I will choose Freewill!" -RUSH, Freewill]

As soon as I finished reading that I heard Eric Lifeson taking off on guitar - great!

I think the reason that the word can be problematic for atheists only because it's a word that has become so closely associated with all the various kinds of religions. I think you're right though to say that you don't see any problem, because really there isn't any problem. There's no contradictions in an atheist using the term "atheist spirituality." But take one step outside the atheist community and say that and I'm sure people are not just going to say, "oh yeah! I get it. Cool." (as has been shown already in that article Albert linked above.)




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