I'd love to know ThinkAtheist's opinion on this topic...
The video linked below... entitled "My Spirituality as an Atheist" has gotten a lot of attention from atheists lately. And although I respect that he points out he doesn't believe in the supernatural and that he states he uses the word "spirituality" for a lack of a better word. I find the message to be misrepresentative or disingenuous. Let me explain why:
When arguing almost any point one of the biggest obstacles with language, to me, seems to be that of semantics. We all hold our own definition of what a word means. It's almost as if we should lay ground rules before a conversation to decide on which definition we mean when we speak a word.
It's for this reason that when I speak I try to use words in the sense they are most commonly defined amongst people or the particular listener. When someone asks me if I believe in God (a word which has many meanings)... I say no. Even though many people consider God to be the universe itself, and I do believe in the universe. Most people I communicate with when they speak the word "god" are referring to the Judaic god. So I can't misrepresent my thoughts by saying that I believe in god. Many people for this reason will continue to say they DO believe in god, even when they don't. They do this because on the surface they don't want to be at odds with the beliefs of their peers. Or perhaps they believe it's a way of easing into atheism. Whatever it may be I consider disingenuous and half-stepping. There is a common definition of the word religion of "a way of life" but in the same way I know most people consider religion as "one of the big four religions" so I can't say I am religious. These words have baggage. As does the word "spirit" (another word which has many meanings). I see no way of denying that the most common definition of the word spirit refers to the following definition : "Spirit: the soul regarded as separating from the body at death." And I can't support this idea by speaking as if I believe there is any validity behind it's implications. By saying that I am spiritual. Now, i'm not saying it is wrong of this person to call himself spiritual when he clearly doesn't believe in spirits. I am saying it is disingenuous to anyone he hasn't yet shown this video to. Or explained what he means when he says spiritual. It also bothers me because I find there is a stigma and a fear behind "coming out" as not believing in souls. If you tell someone you don't believe you have a soul. Often you are suddenly regarded derogatory way. So I have to wonder if this devise somehow panders to the fear of that. And if not... I find identifying yourself as spiritual in some small way as being supportive to this derogatory view towards "non-spiritual" people.
In this video he says he can only describe spirituality, to him as "the action or ability to see beauty, feel wonder and be in awe...". So by that definition, is there anyone alive who wouldn't be spiritual? Who can't see beauty, feel wonder or be in awe?
I may be over-thinking this part but I feel he is also using some argument tactics that are commonly used to mislead. Such as presenting true facts as if they in anyway support his claim. Yes, we are one with the universe, I can get on board with that. But this truth and the beauty behind it doesn't make it any more genuine to label yourself as spiritual when you don't believe in spirits..
When Christians ask atheists: "Why can't we just let everyone believe what they believe and not challenge them." It's because as atheists we want to bring light to the truth. Because we see the big picture and how harmful religion can be to the future of humanity. Essentially that is my major gripe with the rhetoric behind this video.
Why should the word "spirituality" be immune to this criticism? Is spirituality not the FOUNDATION of all of the big four religions?
Instead of calling yourself spiritual. How about awestruck? Or ANYTHING else?