I just started listening to the audio-book version of Sam Harris‘ “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion“. I haven’t made it very far yet, but so far I’m really enjoying it. Sam reads it himself, which is great since I find he has a very pleasant voice.
It’s intriguing to hear a very intense and science-based atheist speak out for spirituality. As he points out, it does not have to be one or the other. Science-based atheists that can’t imagine spirituality without religion simply haven’t experienced it. Once one experiences “mystical” or “transcendental” experiences it is a “reality” that can’t be ignored! It does not pre-suppose a “god” or religion, nor does it have to be anti-science “new age”. Note that I don’t mean to imply “experiences” are required to be “spiritual”.
This has gotten me thinking back on the church I grew up in, and Fundamentalist Christianity in general in the USA. It is of course very anti-science. Or maybe that is better described as anti-intellectual or just irrational. But it is also very anti-spiritual! That’s right, the very people who want to say I can’t be both spiritual and an atheist are not even really spiritual themselves!
They may be very religious, but that is merely a statement that they have very dogmatic beliefs. It is not at all a reflection of their being spiritual! They typically are much more concerned with their own well-being and adherence to their specific beliefs than their own “spirit”. Let alone anyone else’s “spirit”. They do state their concern about our “souls”, but that really just means they want us to adhere to their beliefs so their “god” does not punish us. They do not act like they care about anyone’s “spirit” though!
This is also probably why, in retrospect, I could never get comfortable in a more “moderate” or “liberal” church. They may be much less “religious” and much more intellectual or rational, but the ones I found didn’t really seek the “spiritual” either. I’m not saying they don’t exist, just that my limited experience didn’t lead to one. I enjoy reading the blog of John Pavlovitz, and one of his books “A Bigger Table“, so I do hold out hope that they do exist. Maybe some day I’ll be find one close enough to attend.