I find it interesting that some atheists adamantly refuse to accept the possibility that religious spirituality is an outmoded, inflexible, and inaccurate interpretation of an actual and valid experience of reality. It amazes me how intensely the discussion of the 'valid meaning' of a word can be elevated above its underlying concept so that the deeper, evolving meaning is entirely missed.
It seems that, rather than believe that 95% of the human race is misinterpreting something real, there are many atheists who insist that all theists are, in fact, mentally ill. Well, that sure seems likely! There is no fallacy by assertion there! Why, just the other day I read the results of four double-blind studies published in the Journal of the American Psychiatric Association that showed that 5.7 billion people were clinically delusional!
Perhaps Plato's Allegory of the Cave is a more reasonable thing to assert.
Listen, just because we now have germ theory doesn't make a flu virus less airborne, less invisible to the naked eye, less likely to claw and burn you from the inside, less likely to make you delirious. And it doesn't make salicylic acid (aspirin) any more effective at curing these symptoms.
So, while ancient people saw the flu as an invisible, winged, hot, clawed demon that possessed you and made you crazy; and prescribed willow bark tea (a source of salicylic acid) as a way to exorcise the demon - that doesn't mean that the underlying experience wasn't pretty identical to what we go through now. Albeit, we now have the added benefit of vaccines and don't have to feel guilty for allowing ourselves to become 'possessed.'
Even if any one of us could comprehend the entire gestalt of all human consciousness, knowledge, talent, imagination, observation, memory, analysis, and collective achievement and enlightenment; we would still only possess an incredibly tiny fragment of the universe's 'rosetta stone.'
So, call me 'lazy' to use the term 'spiritual' without reference to anything to do with a supreme, external, omniscient, personal, petitionable, creator being. But you miss the point if you think I just mean 'awe' or 'wonder' or 'beauty'.
Spinoza and Muir both had theistic baggage I don't accept. So did Van Gogh. But these men glimpsed and shared truths that are applicable to the health and, dare I say - spirit - of humanity now and for the foreseeable future.
Vincent Van Gogh actually was clinically insane and, successfully committed suicide on top of that. But, unless you have seen even one of his paintings 'in person', you cannot truly appreciate the validity of the word 'spirituality' embodied by his work.
Vincent painted in all the 'wrong' colors. Up close, his work can appear passionate, crude, ugly, and meticulous at the same time. But when you step back, all the disparate, energetic brush strokes coalesce into communication that goes beyond the visual and viscerally engages the viewer. Not only does he create the illusion of three dimensions using only two; he animates the static and inanimate. And he reminds us that, the universe - taken as a whole - is literally billions of light years beyond our comprehension. He nudges us to remember that its majesty and mystery transcend beauty, awe, and wonder. The universe, is, most assuredly, alive.
Yes, I am agnostic. Not about the existence of anything that can be defined by god. I am agnostic about our ability to ever fully grasp the meaning of life or the workings and context of nature. I am, indeed, an atheist. I love science and its method. I love reason and its revelations. But I refuse to carry the banner of hubris that comes with any absolutist ideology. I find that to be the only reasonable stance available to a critical thinker.
By the way, has anyone seen my unified field theory? I know I put it here somewhere.