Do you believe someone can be a spiritual atheist?


When someone asks my religion I always say “I’m a spiritual atheist”, most of the time the person who asked looks at me confused and says there can be no such thing. I explain to them that I don’t believe in god, which is my definition of atheist, but I do believe everyone has a soul and that there is more to life than just chemicals in the brain. If they understand they tend to ask more about what I believe in, but plenty of times they just shake their head and move on, still puzzled.


What do you think? Can there be someone who is, by definition, a spiritual atheist or do they count as some other religion?


To get your brain churning, here are a few questions:

  • What’s your definition of atheist/atheism?
  • What’s your definition of spiritual?
  • Can the two ever coincide?
  • If you think there is such thing as spiritual atheism what qualifies someone as being that?

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Dear Folks:

I wonder how many things I have 'tabled' due to lack of good evidence or the tools to further explore. Oh I should include insufficient knowledge and interest also as a disability..;o(.

If Michael would like to pursue a deep study of this, I expect there could be had some $$$ from crowd funding operations. Also there are many towns that have 'Meetup' groups that attempt to study the paranormal. This might be better than seeing a scary movie on a Saturday afternoon/evening! I have even considered joining a Meetup group for this purpose.

Michael don't lose heart, walk your own path...


Why is it so hard to say "I don't know" when you don't know? Why does it have to be supernatural or paranormal? Why can't it just be something that requires further exploration?

We used to think disease was caused by demons; now we know all about germs. We used to think the gods sent the rain or earthquakes; now we understand the water cycle and tectonic plates. We used to rely on prayer and potions to heal infections; now we take antibiotics. But in no instance has there been a question for which science used to have an answer, which is now better answered by religion. Certainly, there have been some answers which science had wrong. But the errors are discovered through the self-correcting mechanism of the scientific method, not religion.

From this, we must infer that supernatural explanations will continue to give way to natural ones, and the natural answers will continue to be tested and refined.

So for now, the best answer for what's going on when we come across something we don't understand is, in fact, "I don't know – but it's probably not magic."

Dear Folks:

I go to the Lense crafters office at Walmart to wipe my glasses rather often to remove these pesky phantasms. So far one wipe cures them perfectly.

But if someone finally does the real scientific work on this 'stuff', without my bad glasses, I might really be interested. So far it is 'cool', but not enlightening. Adnusium data collection, while interesting, does not help with making sense out of this. My fall back is, 'what total crap', dang. 

It helps one to be open minded. Just because there is no explanation, you still can't jump to the supernatural. it must merit further scientific investigation. I do not know the creditionals of anyone appearing on that show.

It's certainly possible to be a spiritual atheist, but it raises one major issue:

Why are you an atheist, or what reasons do you give for not believing in god? If your reasons are the typical arguments of most atheists (lack of evidence and holding a scientific worldview, among others), why do those arguments NOT also apply to souls/spirit?

The other question I would ask is: what makes you think that a life of "just chemicals in the brain" would be different (worse) than the life you experience right now? What does your supposed soul add to life, and how do you know that what you think is the soul is not actually just chemicals in the brain? Because certainly the most current neuroscience supports the notion that human consciousness -- every hope, dream, decision, feeling, and experience you have -- is a product of the brain and nothing else. Maybe you just need to rethink what chemicals and physical processes are capable of.

What’s your definition of atheist?

Someone who doesn't believe in gods.

What’s your definition of atheism?

The state of being in which one doesn't believe in gods.

What’s your definition of spiritual?

Having to do with spirits.

Can the two ever coincide?

As long as spirits are not gods, I see no reason the two must remain apart. Probably a fairly small intersection on the Venn diagram of world-views.

If you think there is such thing as spiritual atheism what qualifies someone as being that?

Spiritual Atheism is the state of not believing in gods but still retaining belief in spirits, ghosts, angels, demons, and lesser supernatural creatures. Pretty much how you described yourself...

I think a lot of intellectually soft "New Agey" people have a working definition of "spiritual" that has less to do with belief in ghosts/souls/spirits than with feeling "in tune with" or "at one with" nature. That's gobbledegook of course. It means nothing.


Unseen your logic escapes me. "Oh this is the SciFi channel, therefore everything on it is SciFi."

You can't actually quote me saying that or even anything that means the same thing. But go ahead and try.

What I did say is that it's an entertainment channel. It does have the word "Fi" in its name which indicates its general orientation.

For a welcome change of pace, instead of doing what all those dopey pseudo-documentaries do by presenting something seemingly mysterious or unexplained and then asking a question like "Could this be evidence of ghosts?" or "Could it be that flying saucer people taught the Mayans astronomy?," why not actually try to ANSWER a question or present a FACT supported by evidence?

Come back instead with an answer and not a conjecture. In the meantime, not to have point out your constant know-nothingness would be a welcome relief on a board devoted to intellectual hard-headedness.

And you never did tell me what's your take on Leprechauns. And hey, while you're at it, how about faeries, trolls, and the wendigo?

@Amy L. Cook

Be careful not to close your mind too tightly.

When you have no facts to support your view, it's often "You have a closed mind."

I assure you, I have changed my mind many many times about many many things. Even recently.

The problem with spiritual theses is that they are meaningless. Why are they meaningless? Because there is no proof even possible of spiritual existence. I challenge you to a very simple task: formulate a syllogism with premises that are verifiable as fact, leading to the conclusion that "spirits exist." That leaves us with scientific explanations based on physics.

To turn it around, propositions which are unfalsifiable are meaningless. If you can't say what would prove the falsity of my assertion that there's an invisible incorporeal squirrel sitting on Michelle Obama's shoulder at all times, then what substance could there be to the assertion in the first place. Asserting that something is a spirit is exactly the same. 

Always consider these three facts:

1. People misperceive/misinterpret.

2. People hallucinate.

3. People lie. 

1) Atheism is the absence of belief in any kind of deity.

2) "Spiritual" in the sense that you describe it is "bull%&$#."

3) No

4) No.  And what qualifies a person for being called a "spiritual atheist" is a deep-seated fear/reluctance to completely abandon the concept of a Supreme Deity of some kind.  As far as I'm concerned, the term "spiritual atheist" is an oxymoron.


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