Skepticism and Spirituality
  • I am an atheist and a skeptic. Spirituality is something that I lack. Is that a bad thing? I cannot bring myself to believe things without evidence, and I think that's a good thing, however, I often feel like things would be easier if I just allowed myself to believe something. I wouldn't shut the TV off and call a movie irrational bullshit if it's about irrational bullshit. I allow myself to believe it because it's fun. Should spirituality be approached in the same way? I think it would be an enriching experience to, say, travel to India and spend some time in an ashram. My problem is that I could not believe any of the more irrational spiritual things that I'd be taking part in in an ashram and would feel like I was being dishonest to whoever is instructing me and to myself if I just pretended to go along with something I don't really believe.

    So, how can a skeptic be in any way spiritual?

  • orgoneorgone
    Vampire
    I consider myself to be a 'spiritually sophisticated atheist' but that was something that lots of psychedelics brought me. I made a thread about it a while ago, but it went about as well as the rest of my threads end up doing on here.

    http://duncantrussell.com/forum/discussion/178/am-i-the-only-atheist-who-took-massive-amounts-of-psychedelic-drugs-and-remained-an-atheist
    image
  • They are not opposing concepts, skepticism and spirituality. Being spiritual means, in addition to being the skeptic, you would also consider ideas and concepts that are immaterial and not as easily quantifiable. The idea is not to "believe" as you would in things like gravity but rather to question with an ultimate aim of understanding the understandable. It is not to succeed in that goal but instead its the practice of being open. It is not for purposes of enlightenment as you may think, its more about considering the unconsidered under the assumption that the immeasurable aspects of life (consciousness, the multiverse) have as great (if not greater) an impact on our lives than the obvious and immediate things.

    I use science, skepticism, and pragmatism in the practical applications of my life. If I want to plot a faster route to work or balance my check book. But when it comes to dealing with the idea that i am a drop of rain on the back of a whale beading of into an ocean, that requires a different approach.
    If you see Buddha on the forum, ban him.
  • @KHAN
    Well said.

    @veryzen
    When trying to describe the fundamental nature of being, there is no empirically determined metaphysical truth. So why pigeonhole yourself into a label or ideology - whether that be a "rationalist", "empiricist", "Aristotelian", "Atheist"... they fail to describe your experience in its entirety, period.

    Be skeptical. You don't have to subscribe to a certain idea to entertain that idea.
  • Hey man, it's ok, I know how you feel. If you can think broadly enough you can start to get some spiritual stuff to work with your logic.
    See, I got stoned and made these two posts:

    I've never had much interest in tarot because of how vague and non applicable it always was with me, but thats just my personal experience, other people have a lot of good stuff to say about it.

    Something I was introduced to that is creepily specific and descriptive was the Destiny and Love Card books (cheesy name I KNOW) from http://www.7thunders.com/
    I have the books and get some info for you.

    And I don't even believe in this hoobily-joo hippie crap! I'm a science loving skeptic, but these books confound me. So I recommend them.


    Heard this on JRE

    What if this crap IS a computer and people practicing magic type shit are hacking the code somehow?




    I measured my waistline in planck lengths and now I feel awful.
    photo tmp_824317984_zps500a3873.jpeg
    So what is really what, if the funk don't move your butt?
  • If you have a decent grasp on the implications of the various flavors of string theory and quantum mechanics, you don't have to leap much farther to understand various types of 'spiritual' phenomena. There is a difference between objectively understanding the phenomena and being the phenomena, though. You have to be able to see it through a lens that is incompatible with radical skepticism; not because skepticism is wrong, but any ideology unnecessarily restricts your thinking. Koans are great at demonstrating this concept. Sure, if you think completely rationally, you might be able to understand how this logically demonstrates different metaphysical concepts in Buddhism, etc...but you are completely missing the point of the koan.

    I used to be an very skeptical atheist too, so I can say that if you choose to walk a spiritual path in the future, you should be well armed to base it on top of a good scientific foundation. I'd also recommend a good crash course in epistemology.
    एकम् सत् विप्राः बहुधा वदन्ति
    That which exists is One, but sages call it by various names.
  • ^ Exactly.
    If I had to summarize my 'conversion', it would simply be a very scientifically oriented fellow who reached the point where he had to decide either to say "I don't know and can't ever know" or "I'm going to take science and combine it with other disciplines to see if I can keep pushing the boundary." Both are valid responses imo.
    एकम् सत् विप्राः बहुधा वदन्ति
    That which exists is One, but sages call it by various names.
  • missTLCmissTLC
    Temp Ban
    I used to feel the same way until I realized that my De facto spirituality was the universe. It doesn't have to be a magical way of thinking. The sheer magnitude of the universe and how everything functions in it is "spiritual" enough. Words are relative to those hearing them and have no real meaning. Spirituality for most people just means something providing empathic guidance. I Just listen to Carl Sagan or Neil Degrasse Tyson speak to get my "spiritual" fix. Traditional religions have a lot to offer also from a philosophical perspective, Jesus, Confucius, Gandhi, MLK. Every great leader was speaking for the oppressed. Most people who seek empathy for the masses of downtrodden are familiar with it themselves. Their beliefs in What happens after we depart this dimension is of no concern to me and doesn't take away from their earthly enlightenment.
    Post edited by missTLC at 2012-04-01 21:23:19
    Proud member of the dark underbelly.

  • Stay skeptical, but also stay open-minded. You don't need to rush into something, you just need to explore.
    Get a job you dirty hippies!
  • One of my stumbling blocks as a "skeptical spiritual" is the fear of being suckered, I guess. I was raised Christian and was a very faithful child, so realizing I was being fooled was such a letdown. Now I feel like I struggle to balance keeping an open mind and learning about the universe versus avoiding charlatans and eloquent idiots.
  • I preface this by saying that I completely understand where your coming from: Gods and Demons and all of that doesn't make any sense to me in any kind of anthropomorphic, caring sense. That being said, I don't think that there's necessarily any conflict between spirituality and skepticism. Being skeptical about life and what's taught to you doesn't mean that (a) Everything has to make sense all the time --- it's okay to surrender to the chaos, the seemingly irrational and unknown now and again---and (b) You've got everything figured out. Finding your own path is about not being afraid to turn over a few stones here and there. We're all traveling through the void on a one-way trip to the ultimate truth one way or the other. Consider what Crowley's Argentum Astrum espoused: "The Method of Science, The Aim of Religion."
  • @Krishna I don't really understand the connection between quantum mechanics and spirituality. I know quantum mechanics deals with some concepts that are completely foreign to existence as we experience it at a non-subatomic level, like superposition and non-local action. But I think it IS a huge leap to make any connection between that and spirituality. Subatomic-particles behave in ways that are difficult to understand and completely defy intuition, but that doesn't lend any credence to spiritual claims. The key difference is that quantum phenomena have been experimentally verified and working technology has been designed based on its principles, the same cannot be said for spirituality. The fact that one thing is true in spite of the fact that it is "spooky science" does not mean that another spooky thing is true at all. I'm not saying that spirituality isn't real, I'm just respectfully saying I think the connection is flawed.
  • I tend to agree with @TheIncredibleHogg verifiability of spirituality is a problem for me. But I think the greater, and more important thing, is that we're all here together wonder, thinking, discussing, in pursuit of a common goal. And that string theory itself is wondrous, and that life itself is spiritual.

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