I guess I always assumed that when one throws off a belief in God, a belief in a spiritual metaphysics would go out with it. But come to think of it, there are Atheistic religions. Buddhism (Hinayana) is the most obvious example. Wicca is another. I suppose the deity Brahman in Hinduism is not really a theistic deity, either, though all of the rest of the Hindu pantheon are. One could argue that Christian theologian Paul Tillich's God, which he described as "the ground of being" is almost perfectly analogous to the Hindu Brahman. Chinese religions have a strong atheistic tendency as well. Taoism, Confucianism, and Chan (=Zen) are religions without personal gods.


I feel that if one is to clear one's mind of the theistic nonsense, one should get rid of metaphysics as well, especially the spirtual kind, by which I mean spirits, souls, and ghosts.


What do you think?

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I never use the word spirit or spiritual except literally. It seems to me you are using "spiritual" in a sense that doesn't actually imply an actual spirit or separate spiritual reality.

It seems like it should follow that shaking off a god belief should at least lead one toward shaking off other superstitions, but it just isn't so. For instance, I have a friend who thinks religion is pretty silly, but who is convinced that extraterrestrials visit Earth regularly and make crop circles.

He's also into all kinds of medical woo, which is disturbingly common among my atheist friends. Same thing for silly, mostly harmless stuff like astrology. From that I gather that it's possible to apply critical thinking to one area of belief while leaving other areas of belief intact. (I know, I know, this is anecdotal. Just sayin'.)

I'm quite familiar with that syndrome. LOL


@Kasu   That's all very fluffy stuff. All this connectedness. Is it with the world of facts or some sort of imaginary metaworld? Is any reference to spirit in a philosophical sense a misnomer? Do you believe in souls? ghosts? I realize "spirit" is a word with many colloquial uses having nothing to do with philosophy (school spirit, a spirited reply), but you seem to be hinting at some sort of philosophically relevant meaning.

Example of such a pattern that you're aware of that a non-"spiritual" person would not be?

Thank you for addressing this.  I see many atheists perfectly willing to dismiss Christianity, Islam, etc., but somehow sympathize with Buddhism.  I can understand that perhaps from an ethical perspective (i.e. - the "Five Precepts").  Or the skepticism advocated by Buddha in the Kalama Sutta.  But Buddhism has significant supernatural cosmological implications that are just as ridiculous as any other religious faith construct.  Beyond that, Buddhism endorses a very unhealthy stance toward human pleasures, specifically sex.  It is horribly repressive in many, many ways.  Also, it maintains all kinds of supernatural claims such as supposed psychic or paranormal abilities of meditation masters, amongst seemingly endless others.


However, the term 'metaphysics' does not imply the supernatural unless specified.  Metaphysics simply addresses existence or "what exists".  I, for instance, I would be characterized as a metaphysical naturalist (in that I view existence as necessarily natural), as opposed to a metaphysical supernaturalist.  Not trying to come off as smug or an asshole trying to sound smart, just wanted to make that distinction.


Again, thanks for starting this thread.  paz

Thanks. As to your second paragraph, what do you suppose the "meta" part of "metaphysics" stands for, if not something other than, outside, or above natural existence?

Metaphysics looks into the nature of reality. It trys to adress the nature of existense itself. It also asks whether abstract things like numbers, and values such as goodness, exist in reality, and in what way. A lot of it is mental masturbation in my opinion.


Metaphysics got its name by accident. When the editors of Aristote's lectures on physics had finished, they simply named it The Physics. Now, for the next lecture on ultimate existence, they were at a loss for a name, they ended up calling it 'the book that comes after The Psycics' (meta ta physika) -- thus: meta-physics.  


Then Descarte came along and gave the word a renewed meaning with the whole mind-body duality malarky. As in two different substances - mind and matter -- meta = mind, physic = body.

I'm used to the philosophical meaning of the word where it is intended to describe the nature of reality, the two main possibilities being materialism (everything is matter or an epiphenomenon of matter) or idealism (the world is spirit or made of ideas). With what we actually know about reality nowadays, that sort of philosophizing seems rather passe, though if I had to choose, I'd be a materialist with lots and lots of asterii (or asterixes, if you prefer).

I'm used to the philosophical meaning of the word where it is intended to describe the nature of reality, the two main possibilities being materialism...  or idealism...


I'm afraid you've been mislead on what the word 'metaphysics' actually means in philosophy. This is unsurprising, as any popular bookstores with a "metaphysics" section does not contain anything even remotely resembling what philosophers call 'metaphysics.' Although the metaphysics section of those bookstores certainly do have what you call "spiritual metaphysics." 


The materialism/idealism debate is more accurately categorized under the subject heading of 'Ontology,' which is a branch of Metaphysics. Ontology is concerned with existence. Specifically, it asks "What exists?" Materialists hold that only physical or material things exist (i.e., things made of what science has identified as 'matter'). Idealists, on the other hand, say only spirits, or ideas, or 'forms,' or some other kind of transcendent objects exist.

Then Descarte came along and gave the word a renewed meaning with the whole mind-body duality malarky. As in two different substances - mind and matter -- meta = mind, physic = body.


The subject of metaphysics has dealt with the natures of both mind and matter since Aristotle. Insofar as the topics discussed within metaphysical works constitute that subject, metaphysics has dealt with these things long before Aristotle as well, even though the name hadn't yet been coined.


Other topics of metaphysics include the existence of God, causation, the identity of objects and persons, the nature of space and time; all of which Descartes discussed in his work. While his dualism may have been his contribution that best stood the test of time, he didn't change the way metaphysics was conducted, nor what the word 'metaphysics' itself meant. 

I think when one watches a movie one needs to do what they call "willing suspension of disbelief," otherwise one can't enjoy, not even sci fi and fantasy movies, but 9 out of 10 ordinary dramas! LOL


I myself love Star Trek episodes even though it's total nonsense from one end to the other. H.P. Lovecraft...great ideas, horrible writer. They say, Poe scared you, Lovecraft told you that you were scared.


I do worry about people who give up believing in a greybeard in the sky in exchange for some form of naturism (gaia, wicca), for example. It's like what they say about AA, that they substitute addiction to alcohol with addiction to meetings.


People who hang on to things like former lives and reincarnation (another word for the same thing), psychokinesis, have some psychological need to be met. They have a mental weakness I don't understand.


You are correct. We will probably have this hypocrisy for the foreseeable future.


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