Atheism and Spirituality

I’m sure you would say that atheism and spirituality are mutually exclusive. That is an atheist MUST reject anything remotely spiritual.

I am of the opinion that an atheist can be acutely aware of spirituality. By rejecting God or gods in any form, an atheist must be aware that the actions of self and others and universe are ruled only be the essential laws and processes of the universe as a system: A crazy, Rube Goldberg kind of contraption much like those amazing Pitagora Suitch devices.

But what are the spiritual rules of these devices, whether or not these rules created or evolved. Spirituality at it’s most basic form is all about the basis for our actions. That is, what creates and shapes the actions and interactions of us as humans as well as everything else: from Ken Wilber‘s frisky dirt to the interactions of people, of governments and of corporations.

If an atheist enters into a contract, would you expect that the atheist would fail to honor that contract? Actually, the atheist would honor that contract just as often as a Pope or Rabbi or Minister. Remember, all of these have honored or dishonored contracts at one time or another. It has nothing to do with religion, but specifically if the contract works for the parties involved.

The atheist who honors a contract, can appreciate the spirit and essence of the contract just as well as you or I or anyone else. The atheist’s understanding of that spirit and essence depends on that person’s personality, intelligence and many other factors. The point here is that ‘spirit’ is not rejected by the atheist, only ‘God.’ In fact, the atheist needs to be very aware of that separation, which makes a true and thoughtful atheist a spiritually aware person. I’m not talking of a newbie atheist, who at 17, decides that everything he has learned must be rejected, and hastily declares “I am an atheist.” It may take years for that person to truly and finally conclude that there is no God.

It takes a great deal of contemplation to tease the essentials of the rules of proper action away from any religious dogma. After all, if we are only doing something or thinking something to avoid punishment from an angry god, it speaks very poorly of ourselves as sentient, caring, responsible people. But we can be sentient and caring and responsible because we can understand the positive value of being that way: it has nothing to do with God’s Wrath, and everything to do with how we set our internal compass.

I would like to propose that we separate the spiritual aspect of our internal compass from any reference to God’s Word that comes from a book (not that I dislike books, I just think they are written by people, not God). But this post is not about the Bible, it is about the fundamental difference between a belief in God from the ability to embrace a natural and nourishing spirituality.

I’ll leave this post with several open questions:

  • what concepts form a useful basis for our actions?
  • Are these concepts universal?
  • Should they also work for governments and corporations?
  • How different are these rules from the basic statements of the world’s religions?
  • If these concepts are universal, is there a basis for using them to celebrate the sheer goodness of them and how we implement them in life?

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