I am not ashamed of being an atheist. I'm ok w/being rational. But I had a discussion with my sister in law today regarding having been Roman Catholic. We both come from Catholic families -- she is SBNR (spiritual but not religious, a point of view that I find to be namby-pamby), and I am an atheist. I caught myself candy-coating my point of view. I said that I was extremely agnostic. And as I was saying it, I was thinking, "WTF? Atheist!". Now, to a degree, I didn't want to offend her. And to a degree, I didn't want to get into a discussion, muchless an argument, about it. But I do feel cowardly. 
Any body else been here? 

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Spiritualism is nothing new, either. It was a monotheistic religion borne out of Christianity. It really took off around the turn of the 20th century and included a lot of things that many Christians today view as Satanic or Demonic like séances and Ouija boards.

People today seem to use spiritualism without definition. Mostly, I hear it from Christians that are disillusioned with the church and organized religion. They still hang on to the belief of something, but they won't say what.

The most frustrating thing I find about the term is that lack of definitiveness. It is mostly a useless term used to sum up vague feelings and ambiguous ideas that can't be put into words.

Perhaps you have defined it for yourself, but why bother using it when you still have to vigorously explain away all the supernatural nonsense that has long been associated and been a hallmark of spiritualism? It is a bit like telling people that I am a Christian, and then explaining that it really means I am an atheist.
It seems to me that so many atheists have such negative views. instead of seeing the beauty in things is seems to always be about tearing down others' religious beliefs (which I don't believe in), trying to prove them wrong, or making it clear how unintelligent and backwards they are. There is a reason that some many folks give atheist a bad rap....because so many of the atheists are so negative.

It may seem that way, but it is not. You know an atheist when they are arguing against religion. Atheism is not a "positive" label. It denotes a negative, a lack of belief in a deity.

But, when someone is writing poetry about nature's beauty, they are a poet. When they paint a meadow at dawn on canvass, they are a painter. The positive activities and beliefs of many atheists are not so easy to distinguish as belonging to atheists without introducing religion to bring into contrast the atheism, which is a negation of belief.

Anything done under the atheist label is by nature "negative". Atheism is not a replacement for religion. It has no obligation to build up what it tears down. It has no mechanism to do so. Therefore, to many people, atheism seems strident and negative.
Not wanting to read a book does not equal not interested in other perspectives. You are judging me as close minded over one comment on a random discussion board. If you took the time to get to know me (which I don't expect) you'd realize that I do really change my mind when sufficient evidence is presented to me. We are on a discussion board a not in a library. If I read every book someone recommended to me on a discussion board I wouldn't have time for anything else. If you want to convince me of your point of view and have a discussion here on spirituality then please take the time to actually summrise your point of view and provide a clear working definition of spirituality don't tell me to go read a book. If a single book was capable of convincing me of something I wouldn't be here. I'd be at my local church.
Thanks! It was hard not to go that route.
If I read every book someone recommended to me on a discussion board I wouldn't have time for anything else.

Yes, I hate when I am told that the truth is out there, I just need to keep searching for it. Forever.

Vespertilio makes the very valid point about people tending to spend more time with ideads and media that agree with them, but it doesn't always apply just because someone doesn't want to read a book for the explanation.

From Objectivists wanting me to read Rand to Christians wanting me to read the Bible. Sometimes the "close mindedness" people see is really the person who sees no value in further investigating claims that they have investigated already without any novel reason to do so.
Will a sober apology be following? For the language and ad homs, not the ideas conatined within, of course.
That is an understandable point. I have a gentlemen in the local atheists meetup that would like to debate me at one of the meetings on the topic, "9/11 Conspiracy." We have argued in written form for over a month,

Why torture yourself?!

Sober apology done, kiss my ass. =)

I'll need a few beers in me first. You're buying, right?
Baby is almost here, so I may need a stiff drink in a couple of weeks. Let me know, I have no porblems buying, either.
Yeah, I don't disagree. Know who was good at that? Mark Twain.

"In November of 1905, an enraged Mark Twain sent this superb letter to J. H. Todd, a patent medicine salesman who had just attempted to sell bogus medicine to the author by way of a letter and leaflet delivered to his home. According to the literature Twain received (p1,p2,p3,p4), the 'medicine' in question - The Elixir of Life - could cure such ailments as meningitis (which had previously killed Twain's daughter in 1896) and diphtheria (which had also killed his 19-month-old son). Twain, himself of ill-health at the time and very recently widowed after his wife suffered heart failure, was understandably furious and dictated the following letter to his secretary, which he then signed. "



Nov. 20. 1905

J. H. Todd
1212 Webster St.
San Francisco, Cal.

Dear Sir,

Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good and exhibits considerable character, and there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter and the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link. It puzzles me to make out how the same hand could have constructed your letter and your advertisements. Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me; and always, for a moment, they arouse in me an unkind state of mind toward the person who has puzzled me. A few moments from now my resentment will have faded and passed and I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, and enter swiftly into the damnation which you and all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned and do so richly deserve.

Adieu, adieu, adieu!

Mark Twain


http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/01/youre-idiot-of-33rd-degree.html

Okay, so he had some name calling. But wow! Imagine if he were alive today! As PZ Myers said of him (and this letter), he would make one hell of a blogger.
Do you think Twain would have called himself "spiritual?"

Maybe. But I doubt it.
Spiritual is such a vague term. I don't think we can really know what someone means by it. I think Twain was more of an atheist anyway.
Atheist is a loaded word to some. You were probably not being dishonest by saying you were "extremely agnostic". I've refrained from declaring my atheism to certain family members for the same reasons you listed. I don't worry so much about offending them, but I just really don't want to discuss it with them.

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