Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I win at nonspirituality!

I might well be the single least spiritual person of your acquaintance.

The vigorously philosophical atheists and agnostics who engage in discussion about their beliefs are devoting far more time than I do to matters of the spirit or lack thereof.

I don't believe in God, Zeus, Odin, Thoth, Goddess, an overriding essence within nature, an omniscient power, Buddha, Ganesh, Satan, tree spirits, New Age spirituality, Wicca, druids, pagans, "something out there," or the rest of that ilk. I don't believe in immortal souls. I don't believe in life after death, though I recognize what a lovely idea it is, particularly for someone whose life on earth pretty well sucked.

I don't crave the community and ritual associated with congregations and worship services.

I never believed in a god. Not as a child, not in adolescence, not in college, not in adulthood. I never had a flirtation with religious belief. I never tried on a denomination for size. I never grappled with doubts that my beliefs might be wrong. I never feared that I ought to choose religious faith just to be on the safe side. I didn't have my son baptized just to appease the relatives who wanted him baptized.

I do, however, have morals. I live an ethical life. I play fair. I nurture my friends and love my family. I let pedestrians in the crosswalk do their thing. I count my grocery items and never get in the express checkout lane unless I'm within two items of the allowable total. (Twelve, ten, what's the difference?) I'm a nice person.

I don't think there are many of us, in the U.S. at least, who have been this resolutely nonreligious and nonspiritual throughout their lives. How many do you know? And are they lovely people?


Anonymous said...

My husband and I are. But his undergraduate degree is philosophy, so I suspect he's given more thoughts to his god-less state than I. I had two athiest co-workers at the legislature, one who was thoughtful about it and one who just was. It was a highly Catholic workplace and we three got a lot of questions.


Anonymous said...

I know more than a few, and they certainly knock the socks off those religious types.

The Absent Minded Housewife said...

You know, being from Utah I have connections to some lovely lovely people who will gladly come on over and give you books and pamphlets...

I'm kidding!

Cricket said...

As a single perusing sites, I hate the moniker "spiritual but not religious." I want to respond to quit the fence-sitting already!

I was religious until five years ago, then I slapped myself and woke up. Am neither spiritual nor religious. Yet I am highly moral and ethical.

And to add to your list, I do not believe in fate or destiny.

Psycho Kitty said...

You know, it's funny, but you might be the only one. I mean, I know plenty of athiests, but most of them are...well...they're religious about it, if you know what I mean. As far as people who aren't revolting against religion or waffling about it or tired of it, but who just plain don't have any truck with it? Just you, I think. Isn't that odd?

Narya said...

Me, me!


I was raised by atheists--3rd generation on mom's side--so there wasn't any waffling in our household. Given that my grandfather was an anarchist, however--and given that the atheism and anarchism were occurring in a small town--we talked about stuff a lot around the dinner table, which i don't think falls under your Discussed It A Lot part. Also, with the morals? it drives me completely batshit when someone assumes--and actually says to me!--something like, "How can you be moral/why would you be moral if you don't believe in a god?"

my word verification:mrmcz, or, as I like to think of it, Mr. McZ.

E. said...

My husband has no particular belief in God or afterlife, etc. and yet is not particularly het up about it either. And he is definitely one of the most ethical people I've ever met. Honest, sometimes to a fault.

I believe in some sort of god - it's just in me. But my main belief about God is that God is unknowable. I'm also pretty willing to accept that there may be no God, but I feel like there is.

I also think of my grandparents as up in Heaven, doing their thing, smiling down upon me. I assume that from the perspective of Heaven, things I do that they might disapprove of seem perfectly cool to them. Like Heaven has given them a kind of englightenment that they may not have been fully capable of on earth.

Anonymous said...

Hallelujah for a sensible post on the subject!
Am completely non-spiritual myself. But HATE being told that I "don't believe in anything", as I am also a very moral person.
Quick question - this wasn't by any chance prompted by this recent post on The Preemie Experiment? http://thepreemieexperiment.blogspot.com/2007/08/prayerreligionspirituality.html
Interesting discussion there, thought I do kind of lose it when people profess to having lost their religion because God let them down when they needed Him (Her) most. How narcissistic!

Orange said...

Rayne, maybe it's just me, but it does seem odd that your job at the legislature involved a highly Catholic workplace! Oy.

mcewen, that's what I strive for—effortless sock removal by proxy.

Becky, we have those people in Chicago, too. They don't ring my doorbell, though. My chance to interact with them typically involves me driving, them biking, and me always opting not to run them down.

Cricket, lol re: the fence-sitting remark. They're just not ready to be weaned?

PK: That's exactly it. I have no truck with it. That should be my default answer when asked about religion.

Narya, I didn't know you and Mr. McZ were close! Isn't he awesome?

So, e., in your vision of heaven, all the Christian fundamentalists who've earned a trip up there now see the error of their ways and are cool with things like sex education and feminism?

Meredith, it was prompted by a friend telling me about his "spiritual guru," and my realization that it was a completely foreign concept in my head.

Mignon said...

First, to Psycho Kitty, it's because you know they're atheist, see? There are plenty of us out there that don't wear it on our sleeve because it just is. But I know what you mean. Even when I hear someone declare publicly (in real life, I mean)their lack of belief I cringe a little.

Orange, you know I'm with you. I sometimes feel like the acknowledged atheist is morality because it's governed strictly by an internal compass, not something passed down by old men in robes. Sure, very religious/very spiritual people have internal compasses, but their rights and wrongs are commonly listed in reference to what So-and-So Great Person said. Even Buddhists don't exist in a vacuum.

Anonymous said...

Well said Mignon! You articulate my feelings on that particular point perfectly. Why is it we atheists always smile politely and let people drone on about God/their beliefs and never say anything? I think a lot of us just feel there is nothing to answer for, it's just a given (that's there's no deity/afterlife etc etc), end of discussion.
And thanks for the reply Orange - I just wondered. Seems we all look at the same blogs! I've seen a lot of these discussions lately, some hair-raising (esp. on Tertia's!)

DoctorMama said...

No truck with it, yes, exactly. Never did, never will. Don't talk about it much, though.

Narya said...

On the other hand, I do sometimes speak up about my beliefs, because I think it's important to take a stand, especially in the face of overwhelming deity-waving. I certainly don't try to change anyone else's beliefs, but I get annoyed when deity-wavers think those of us who don't share their cosmos should be meek and quiet and ashamed.

Sarah said...

So many good points have already been made that I don't know if I can come up with one. You guys rock.

Okay, here's one:
Because there is no divine absolution, there is no pinning the blame on external forces, and there is no cut-and-dry set of rules that will magically make me a good person if I follow them, I think I hold faster to my morals as an atheist because they are a reflection of nobody and nothing but myself.