Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Spiritual Atheists

January 29th, 2010 by Bruce Nielson

I am listening to Radio West’s interview with Krista Tippets from Speaking of Faith. She was asked by a caller if people can be spiritual without a belief in God. She answers, yes, and I fully agree with her. I have had spiritual feelings, hair standing up on the back of your neck type spiritual feelings, being in nature, studying physics, listening to great music, etc. I have no doubt that “spirituality” exists without a belief in God, though I still believe it comes from God even if the person doesn’t realize it.

But what I was particularly interested in was how she defined spirituality:

I absolutely think that the absence of a belief in God does not mean you don’t have a spiritual life. If we define the spiritual part of life as the place where we fine meaning, where we anchor ourselves in what matters and discern that.

I agree. But I wonder if all the logical ramifications of this thought are recognized.

Comments (6)
Filed under: We transcend your bourgeois categories | No Tag
No Tag
January 29th, 2010 09:13:11

February 28, 2010

I have a friend who quietly doesn’t believe in God anymore, though continuing to attend church. But s/he still prays. Daily.

I decided it would be very counterproductive to call ’em to be consistent.

And no, this person isn’t publishing any books or posting to blogs.

Bruce Nielson
February 28, 2010

I saw a study published in the news somewhere where they found that like 21% of all self proclaimed atheists in the US prayed and received answers.

When I mentioned “logical ramifications” above, I wasn’t refering to personal consistency. I was talking about the logical ramifications of defining spirituality that way. (I didn’t draw any conclusions in this post, I was setting up for possible future thoughts.)

Bruce Nielson
February 28, 2010

I’d like to find that study again. Here is an article about it, though not that good a write up, frankly. (Seemed biased.) I originally read more neutral sources.

Bruce Nielson
February 28, 2010

More links:



It looks like I said it wrong. 21% of atheists profess a belief in God in the US. It’s only like 10% that pray and receive answers. The word “Atheism” seems to have come to mean “disbelief in the Christian God.”

February 28, 2010

praying atheists brings to mind the old saw “you may have stopped believing in God, but God didn’t stop believing in you.”

My friend has a adopted a Richard Dawkins worldview. Not just no Christian God, but no Hindu God, no God. And some of that Richard Dawkins anti-church, anti-religion thing.

And has private prayer in the LDS prayer format.

And I probably should have posted all this anonymously, because if my friend finds these comments, my friend will not be pleased.

But yes, bringing up praying atheists and consistency is turning a little away from your post.

More directly to your point, I think in anything that is virtuous or lovely, God is there to some degree. Good report, however, isn’t a helpful indicator.

[…] it within a non-faith based worldview. In other words, he’s a faith based Theist. In short, he’s a half-theist not an atheist. He is merely switching between the two views on an as needed […]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.