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PART ONE was about the perception of spirituality by atheists and believers.  Find Part One in the Archives.

PART TWO, “Atheists and spirituality,” considered definitions of spirituality, discussed notions of a “soul,” and how our modern view of it came to be, also how immortality figures in it all. Find PART TWO in the Archives.

Spirituality, Consciousness, God, Conscious Machines & the Atheist Mind.

In a previous article we discussed what spirituality might be. Throughout this article, you will see this icon: We kept coming up with riffs and side issues to the basic theme, ... so we decided to keep them in. Click on the icon for these additional illustrative pictures, asides, sounds, information.


To many atheists, spirituality is a sometimes beautiful, but always wholly natural thing, and they welcome the breadth and nuance it adds to their lives. There are others who are seemingly unaware or are not willing to accept they are spiritual beings too, perhaps they think that in not believing in the existence of a religious eternal soul or paternalistic, vengeful, jealous god, they must also reject any idea of spirituality, particularly if they see it as nothing more than an invention of religion.

Virtually all atheists are quite happy to live free of irrational religious beliefs, still, they need to know that spirituality was not invented by, and it’s not exclusive to religion, we don’t have to deny its existence for that reason. Perhaps those particular atheists don’t comprehend all that spirituality covers. It’s not exclusively god! god! god! religion! religion! religion! It’s a concept within the mind which involves imagination and thoughts of things that have never (yet) been and are not of the tangible touchable world, it is part of our everyday experience whether we realize it or not, and inside it, almost anything is possible, all our most innovative ideas and inventions, our concepts, our ideology, are created within and come out of it. And that came long before religion , rather, we believe it was the other way around: Religion was created out of those thoughts and ideas by which early homo sapiens tried to come up with explanations of the mysteries they suddenly saw in the world around them and often failed, and this led them to invent and invoke magic and then later on, notions of multiple gods and religion and rebirth.

There are still plenty of mysteries, don’t think that our modern knowledge has them all solved, atheists too wonder about the “hows” and “whats” of human consciousness itself, the origin of the universe before the “Big Bang,” and what things were like in the nanoseconds immediately after it, things such as whether there is any meaning to life (other than the number 42, if you know what we mean ), we just don’t need “God” in our answers. And this is despite the fact that some of us may even see inside us something in the nature of an integrated self- invented/self created non-religious super-consciousness which believers call a “soul;” just because we are atheist we’re not obliged to automatically accept that we are simply advanced biological machines that respond solely to our brains’ physiology and our animalistic survival motivations, as some atheists claim. And yes, we too have our moral standards and behave in ethical ways and these also come out of the spirituality we feel, not from an idea that we answer to “God,” but because we also have that higher calling to be something better within ourselves.

For atheists concerned with morality and ethics, it’s not about religious laws that shall be obeyed because some mythical higher being so decrees, it’s about internalized desires to be respected and to behave respectfully towards others and be responsible to self, society, and civilization, and this comes from the tenets of personal dignity and decency by which many atheists choose to live.

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Archived Articles

Spirituality Among Atheists, Part 1
Part 1 of a 4-part series looking at Atheists' spiritual beliefs

Spirituality Among Atheists, Part 2
Part 2 of a 4-part series looking at Atheists' spiritual beliefs

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Atheists have no true public voice, and yet some of the most brilliant people in history have been or came to be Atheists. We have no meaningful sense of community and seem to be characterized by our individuality rather than by the important traits we share. That is one of our biggest problems.

Suggested for Reading:

The True Believer, Eric Hoffer

The Science of Good & Evil, Michael Shermer

How We Believe, Michael Shermer

The End of Faith, Sam Harris
Tower of Babel, Robert T. Pennock

Freedom Evolves, Daniel C. Dennett