Monday, January 25, 2010

Can't you just feel the spirituality?

I recently received this email from a reader:

Hi. I'm a fan of your website, and since I have recently ran into a bit of a predicament, I was hoping I could ask you for advice.

I have some friends which are religious, and since there's pretty much nothing that could break our friendship (at least in the foreseeable future), we like to sometimes argue about the existence of God, with me on the "he does not exist" side. I was hoping you could help me figure out a way to make a valid point against some of their "spirituality is something that cannot be measured but just felt" "how could you have a spirit/soul without god giving it to you, etc" ?

While I realize that I could answer some of these myself, it becomes hard to discuss if they fall back to the same old tricks. So I am asking you for a bit of help, since it seems I cant make an argument without having to correct myself.

Thanks in advance!

I'm not sure what you think you could accomplish here.  They haven't provided any falsifiable claim that you could use to latch an argument on to.  Their case is bullet-proof in that it cannot be refuted, mostly because they haven't made any verifiable claims.  But much like it cannot be refuted, it also cannot be used to demonstrate to anybody else that their claim is true, again because they haven't made any claims.  They've constructed their own little fantasy world which doesn't have to answer to reality.

But there are some points/questions which I'd make.  I'm making some assumptions here, because you didn't specifically say that they were Christian, and also didn't explain exactly what it is that they claim they can feel, but here goes:

1.  What does 'spirituality' mean anyway?

2.  Why do Hindus and Buddhists claim to feel spiritual but not feel Jesus or the Christian god?  Are they sure they don't feel Vishnu?  How can they tell?

3.  Feelings don't teach anything about the reality of the Universe.

4.  What is the difference between your friends and a mentally-ill person who hears voices?  What about those who claim they hear their god telling them to do bad things?

5.  Even if we do have souls, is it not possible that they are a quality of the Universe and not of their god?  Why do they think we can't have souls without gods, but can have gods without anything else?

6.  What would they accept as proof that their feelings are deceiving them, or they're just fooling themselves?  We have real proof that the brain is deceptive (see related example in my last post), but no proof at all of the existence of the supernatural.

Sorry it wasn't much help, but it sounds like your friends are not giving you anything to use here.


Feki said...

Spirituality, according to wiktionary, means a "Concern for that which is unseen and intangible, as opposed to physical or mundane."

So clearly, spitituality borders the definition of dementia, schizophrenia, psychosis and other mental illnesses.

It is highly subjective to deem one's beliefs in unseen, intangible stuff as real, while asserting that a Flying Spaguetti Monster, for example, can simply not exist.

To accept the existence of a christian god one would have to accept that ALL imaginary beings are plausible and real (like santa claus or the FSM) simply because people concern about them and can easily claim to "feel them".

In summary, either the argument for spirituality applies to ALL religions (actually, all supernatural entities invented throughout history) or it is a symptom of a mental condition (no offense implied).

Anonymous said...

"What would they accept as proof that their feelings are deceiving them, or they're just fooling themselves?"

How do you know their feelings are deceiving them? How do you know they're just fooling themselves?

Why do you care, if you're so sure you're right and they're wrong... why not just leave it?

Cypher said...

To anon1, he isn't just leaving it because someone asked him for help and he's responding.
I guess you only want him to stop so that your fantasy world doesn't get bombarded any more?
I wonder how it feels to have your faith assaulted by reason and still hold out in la-la land, anyone who could describe this?

Admin said...

Thanks, Cypher. You saved me from having to reply with pretty much the same thing.

As for how I know they're deceiving themselves...... if they can back up the claim, then I'll believe it.

ANTZILLA said...

Spirituality is measured by the amount of donations give.

Admin said...

The anonymous poster needs to check out this post I made a while ago:

I think that the anonymous poster must be a prick because he expects that when I'm asked a question I should ignore it. Is that how you handle civil and reasonable requests from people in your daily life?

But more likely, he is just another cowardly 'spiritual' person who doesn't think that their assertions can stand up to scrutiny, but does not want to abandon them anyway.

ANTZILLA said...

You can also argue that "love" (is any of a number of emotions related to a sense of strong affection) is a product of evolution. Also love is not only demonstrated betweens humans but between animals also, in some case animals of differnt species.

ANTZILLA said...

I bet there are millions of people charged with blasphemy that wish creationist would do as anon said "Why do you care, if you're so sure you're right and they're wrong... why not just leave it?"

No one is better at Hypocrisy than the religous

Feki said...

Here is an example of a guy who felt the spirituality a bit too deeply:

So I guess this is how you can measure someone's spirituality. This one falls in the first-degree murder/life sentence category.

The truly sad part is that mr. faithful here wasn't acting alone: his innocent victim had been already targeted by a larger anti-abortion christian fanatic group. All of them very spiritual too.

Jim said...

Nothing says "Love thy neighbor" like murder in the name of God.