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← Atheist Spirituality by a former Muslim Apologist.

bubbub's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by bubbub

Well done Farhan! This is an important angle you are highlighting in your recent work. I think people with a love of mystery and maybe some past experience with religious belief sometimes feel alienated by their perception of atheism. I can imagine (partly from my own experience before I became an atheist) that it at first seems like a spoilsport, cold and disorientating place for your mind to be after the previous wishful thinking. It might seem like to be an atheist you should have no interest in subjective experience after being misled for many years by your own mind

True, subjective experience isn't good for determining truth about the physical world, but what people call spirituality seems to be about getting to know your own mind, and appreciating what's still mysterious about the physical world. I think the best sort of "spiritual" or mysterious experiences come from getting to know yourself better, connecting with and digesting your supressed emotions and memories, paying more heed to your gut feelings (maybe that's what prayer does, albeit in a misguided way, when you try really hard to hear what your imaginary god is telling you), and resolving the things that screw up your perceptions of other people and personal relationships.

I think the emotional appeal of religion is largely to do with it providing a flawed way to deal with deep emotional needs without really getting to the root of the problem. For example it may offer an imaginary being that loves you unconditionally, when you need to learn to accept and love yourself. It may promise vengence when you're better off learning to understand and forgive. It attempts to give certain answers about conscious experience and reality, but only science can give any trustworthy insight there. On a "spiritual" level you can learn to better accept and appreciate the sheer mysteriousness of these things, thinking about how little you know rather than what you do know for a while.

People who talk about being "spiritual" sometimes seem uncomfortable with how much science does tell us and, in my experience, may try to weaken people's trust in scientists. That seems like a bad kind of spirituality. That's because they are trying to fill genuine mysteries with made-up answers, which they feel are threatened by science, or they don't want some mysteries to be answered. A better "sprituality" could involve accepting and enjoying what mysteries there are, but being comfortable with the scientific search for answers.

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 00:36:26 UTC | #902862