Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spiritual, but not religious

I found an article on CNN.com today about the growing number of people who say they are "spiritual, but not religious".  For the purposes of the article, spiritual means that they have religious belief, but reject the organised religion that comes with it.  According to the article, a 2009 survey showed the 72% of 18 to 29-year-olds claimed to be more spiritual then religious.  It is therefore a fight for the very survival of these religious institutions.  If nobody belongs to them, if they can't collect the MONEY they need so badly, they'll die.

We have some great comments in this article from religious leaders:

"Being spiritual but not religious can lead to complacency and self-centeredness. If it's just you and God in your room, and a religious community makes no demands on you, why help the poor?"

"People seem not to have the time nor the energy or interest to delve deeply into any one faith or religious tradition. So they move through, collecting ideas and practices and tenets that most appeal to the self, but making no connections to groups or communities."

"Religion is hard.  Sometimes it's just too much work. People don't feel like it. I have better things to do with my time. It's plain old laziness."

I think there are some other questions they have, but they are not sharing them with us.  How will we molest your children if you don't come to church?  How will we get our feeling of power that we enjoy so much?  Who will pay for our palaces and all of our fine artwork in Italy?  Where will our political power come from?  How will we be able to embezzle money from the organisation?  How will we recruit warriors for jihad?  How will we teach you that science is wrong?  How will we crush independent thought and discourage people from making their own interpretation of the holy book?  How will we teach people to love their neighbours, except for the gays?

Then we have some comments from the other side:

"I don't need to define myself to any community by putting myself in a box labeled Baptist, or Catholic, or Muslim," she says. "When I die, I believe all my accounting will be done to God, and that when I enter the eternal realm, I will not walk though a door with a label on it."
(note that this girl has blended Buddhism with Judaism, etc.)

Gallagher says there's nothing wrong with people blending insights from different faith traditions to create what she calls a "Burger King Spirituality -- have it your way."

I think what she really means is:  I don't really know what's true, so I'm just going to choose whatever feels the best for me, then claim that is true and live my life by it.  Logically, whatever feels best to me is the truth, regardless of whether or not it feels the best to anybody else.  If somebody else has a different truth, then that's just great, because then we're all happy with our own truths.

16 comments:

Jim said...

You nailed down the reasons these "religious leaders" want people to follow a specific doctrine. They want their power and money and followers.

As for the spiritual people who feel they shouldn't have to follow a specific religious doctrine, it is as if these people are just too lazy to care. They want to believe there are gods and an afterlife and everything will be okay. But questioning it is too hard, and following a religion is too much work.

Clown said...

Well, isn't picking and choosing what all followers of one organised religion do anyway? "Spirituals" do the same thing only with two or more religions.

I mean, my unconscious mind while I was a Christian probably looked something like this: "Well, heaven seems nice. Seeing your dead loved ones again, getting everything you wished for, bad people not there, those things are nice... And Hell seems like a neat idea too: it keeps kids away from trouble and of my lawn! (forgetting all the other implications of it, like mental trauma of being scared from early age, your unbelieving friends and family going there etc.) And then there are religious procedures: This one seems good. It's nice to be able to be at the same place with lot of people just like you in one aspect of their lives. It's good to see and be seen. So what if it seems like cannibalism to those outside? Or misogyny and warmongering? Some rituals help organize community and history is important etc, etc...

Clown said...

I'd also argue that spirituality vs religiosity is product of the amount of "social" pressure and religious exposure during the formative years (so called "brainwashing" by harsher critics). That you could make a scale of belief /unbelief compared by it. Something like(Note:All numbers are pulled out of my as* and are strictly to show my opinion on the matter):

1.Social pressure/exposure: Strong

Manifestation: Church every Sunday, Sunday school, prayers before meals and bedtime, readings of the Bible passages, use of Holly book for discipline/guidance.

Result: Religious believer of fundy (fanatical) or moderate type (depending on the beliefs put "inside the pot"). Could turn atheist/agnostic if taught how to use brain for critical thinking or could turn into violent fundy (if it is not already!) if snatched by such church (Phelps' Souther Baptist Church comes to mind).

2. Social pressure/exposure: Moderate

Manifestation: Prayer during "Holly days" (Easter, Christmas), going to church at rarer occasions, praying during hard times etc.

Result: 85% religious believers of moderate type (unless snatched by fundy church) 10% spiritualist, 5% atheist/agnostic. Also, if taught how to turn critical thinking on his/her religion, can be turned to Atheist/agnostic or be converted to other religion.

3. Social pressure/exposure: Weak

Manifestation: Occasional mentions of God if asked, very rare church attendance, children might receive baptism/circumcision just because Jones' kid got one etc. Church attendance, if any, is in liberal/Unitarian church.

Result: 15% religious believer of moderate type, 70% spiritualist, 15% atheist/agnostic. Most of those who believe don't know what they believe and why, unless turned to self search and introspection.

Social pressure/exposure: None

Manifestation: None or rare mentions of God, rare mentions of religion, realistic talk about death, life and origins etc...

Result: 90% atheist/agnostic, 9% spiritualist, 1% fundy (snatched by fundy church in case parents didn't warn him/her)


I also think that the percentage of believers vs spirituals vs atheists/agnostics is naturally changing over time in search of optimal social cohesion. If you have big percentage of believers of the first type ("fundy"), pressure will be strong by default and priest class will be terribly strong as well. Example: Middle ages.
After a few dozen sectarian wars in which fanatics keep dying for their faith while moderates say: "Screw this, I'm staying home. It's better to trade with people of different faith that war against them.", which is very good survival strategy (Medieval Jew's took it as theirs default) unless "purging" by priesthood is present ("Inquisition"). In the end, you get bigger percentage of moderates and weaker priest class. Example: Renaissance.

Priest class loosing power and grip on the population returns as more spirituals and non-believers. Example: Age of science (Modern age).


What are your thoughts about this matter? Do you think it's worth researching?

Daniel said...

Spiritualism just annoys me, because it's so... hazy.
People can believe whatever they want, and most spiritualists don't harm anyone, so I leave them alone.
Their beliefs annoy me though, but I only retaliate on the peaceful, never strike first.

ANTZILLA said...

Clown,
Three cheers! Definate worth research, I'd read the book.

When looking to middle ages etc. the religous fuddies (strong) had all the power. They would kill people who don't follow (witch burnings etc.)

Result: "none" got killed, "weak" became "Moderates" remove risks of being killed, "moderates" may have became "strong" however did let "strong" do a they wished.

ANTZILLA said...

Spiritual CNN def: It's a trendy phrase people often use to describe their belief that they don't need organized religion to live a life of faith.

I've have a problem with the term "spiritual" for example a work college is an atheists (doesn't belive in deities) however also describes himself as spirtual, he is a sterotypical tree loving hippie type. His spirtualality comes from, he describes, as having a connection (emotional) to nature. I've often thought he has alot of buddist type philosophy. So is he using the term "spiritual" wrong? Is there another term used for atheist spirituallity/ connection to nature? From the people in the artical are they "god spritual" or "nature spiritual"?

Admin said...

I'd argue that your co-worker has the correct definition of 'spiritual', and that the people in the article are in fact religious.

I found a definition of religion:

"a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

So it fits well with these people in the article, as long as you understand that 'usually' does not mean 'always'.

ANTZILLA said...

Ahhhh,
So the people in the article are religious (verb.) not spiritual, without any specific religion(noun.) The specific religion groups are pissed because these people are getting free God, how dare they!

Jim said...

I think where they come from when they label themselves (the ones who believe, but don't practice) spiritual is that they want to separate themselves from the mistakes of religion.

If someone tells you they're religious, you tend to picture either a fundamentalist, someone who is going to try and convert everyone, or someone who will just want to talk to you about religion all the time.

Spiritual people who believe more than likely just don't want to be associated with that stigma. They are religious, but they want to separate themselves from the negativity that comes with the term.

As for people who are atheist, but have a thing for nature, the only person I ever knew who was like this described himself as a 'naturalist'.

I agree with Daniel that it is a real hazy area, and it stems from people wanting to define themselves based on their views, rather than wanting to fall under a blanket label like 'theist' or 'atheist'.

Magnamune said...

Spiritual people, as the term is used here, confuse me. It's almost like they don't have the balls to follow a religion. Clown got it right, picking and choosing belief is common to all religious people, as far as I've observed. But these people seem more worried about which religion is true. "No god, I wasn't undecided, I believed in you, I just practiced wiccan magic, Islamic polygamy and basic morals iherent to humans, but which I claim are christian. I do so deserve to go to heaven!"

Personally, I feel these people are worse then fundies, because at least with fundies you know where they stand. And they aren't always as peaceful as they seem... Some have 2 or 3 religions which describe why it's okay for them to kill you.

ANTZILLA said...

I'd like to bring back my analogy from another post. Religious fuddies "claim" these "spiritual" as on there side. ie believe in a God/s. So being "spiritual" is like owning ivory. You may not have killed the elephant (burned witch, bomb abortion clinic) however by owning the ivory (spirituality/God) this gives the poachers (religious fuddies) power though support and creating and market/need.

Jim said...

Agreed, ANTZILLA. The truly devout religious would be the poachers and the dealers, the spiritual would be the tourists they sell to.

Daniel said...

As far as I'm aware, 'naturalists' are people who live normal lives but, well, naked.
I have a very strong connection to nature and the natural world, and a large empathetic to (most) animals and even plants.
Not bugs, they creep me so much...
But it's not a spiritual connection, and I wouldn't claim it as my religion.
I'd prolly say it's more a heavy moral stance, as I would fundamentally defend nature from danger, but at the same time I'm a progressionist and would like to see wind farms/tidal farms, or even nuclear stations.
It's so like religion because it's very self-contradictory, but then again it is about something real.
If any criticism comes back (and is welcome), I'll clarify what I mean first, this was a bit vague.

Clown said...

@Daniel: No, I think those are naturists.

Daniel said...

-_- Yes you're right.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is a god, Me. There's another one, You. I can keep going with this for a while. The point here is that only you can say what is right to you, don't go and claim a magical imaginary friend told you not to kill people, you don't kill people because you as a decent human being feels that it's FUCKING WRONG.... is it really that hard to accept?