Agnostics and Spirituality

Somehow I started getting into a discussion with someone online regarding the concept of being agnostic. To clarify, agnostic is not really a religion it’s more of a state of mind. I consider myself agnostic because it’s the easiest way of saying I have no answers and I choose not to just believe in something because people say I should.

I grew up a reform Jew, which in my mind is kind of being a Jew without all the rules and guilt, it’s stripped down to the basics. In all honesty it suited me for many years, I’m glad that was how I was raised. I’m glad I didn’t have guilt and rules in the years that all I needed was a belief in something bigger than myself.

When I went off to college I soon realized that religion just wasn’t the avenue for me. It didn’t make sense in my head to go to a place to worship something I didn’t believe in. I carefully watched all my friends around me also trying to figure out what they believed in, which helped me understand where I stood as far as spirituality.

When I mentioned I felt I was agnostic to my friend she said she believed that agnostics were not spiritual. I asked her how she came to that conclusion. She explained that if I was agnostic that means I don’t believe I have a soul and that I have no faith.

I do choose to believe in souls but I don’t claim to know what happens to them when our bodies die. I guess though the real question is what is spirituality?

spir·i·tu·al

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adj.

1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material. See Synonyms at immaterial .
2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.
3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific.
4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred.
5. Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

spiritual

Adjective
1. relating to a person’s beliefs as opposed to his or her physical or material needs
2. relating to religious beliefs
3. one’s spiritual home the place where one feels one belongs
It seems to me that spirituality is the feeling inside of you that life is more than you know or understand. Spirituality to me is a bigger picture, that life is more than the tangible. Maybe it’s different for every person. For some people it’s a sense of God, for some it’s following teachings from the bible and others it’s just understanding the world around you on a deeper level.
What are your thoughts?
I also found this, I think this puts it very clearly.

15 Comments

  1. Hannah

    August 20, 2009 at 9:52 am

    I am not an overly religious person, but I do believe in a higher power and the supernatural. The worst thing about religion, though is the fact that too many awful people use it to justify treating others like crap and being obnoxious.

    People just become too obsessed with something that is intangible, instead of focusing on improving our current situation here on Earth.

    1. Robin

      August 20, 2009 at 10:22 am

      @Hannah, but what is your take on spirituality?

  2. B

    August 20, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Ah, religion. I’m not sure where I stand anymore as far as what I believe. I’d think right now I’d lean more towards spiritual then religious.

    I do say though that people are free to believe and worship whatever they want. You want to pray to a 3 headed monster with wings, go for it. You want to pray to baby Jesus, you can do that to.

    I agree with Hannah too that too many people use religion as an excuse to hate and be cruel.

    1. Robin

      August 20, 2009 at 10:23 am

      @B, i’m fine with whatever people choose to believe as long as you don’t judge others on what they believe. but the real question is, how do you view spirituality?

  3. B

    August 20, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I view it as believeing in something but not feeling the need to go to a Church or Temple or whatever to show it. I would agree with the last 3 def. up above and number 5 as well.

    1. Robin

      August 20, 2009 at 4:52 pm

      @B, that makes sense.

  4. Grant

    August 20, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I think you’re a godless heathen infidel defiler evil outcast unclean heretic doo-doo bubble and you’re going to burn Burn BURN in Hell. I’ll save you a seat in the good section.

    Actually, the thing I dislike about the terms Atheist and Agnostic is that they sound like they were defined by Christians who worded the definitions in order to refute both more easily. So I just go with non-believer these days. Or Satanist if I want to piss off the missionaries banging on my door while I’m trying to watch cartoons.

    1. Robin

      August 20, 2009 at 4:53 pm

      @Grant, that works for me.

  5. Hilly

    August 20, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Okay well, I actually *am* a Christian and have never believed that my way is the only way in which you can achieve spirituality. I believe in God and Jesus not because of what I was taught and told but rather because of what I’ve learned and what I feel inside. My spirituality manifests itself with a belief that God is the supreme all-knowing and all-loving being that fills my heart and helps me to be a good person.

    Conversely, my Dad has no religious beliefs whatsoever. He’s pretty much agnostic however because he’s been in a 12 Step Program (and sober) for 30 years now, he’s always had a deep sense of spirituality. Like many 12-Steppers, he says that to him G.O.D. means Good Orderly Direction and it’s just a sense of right and wrong that leads and guides him through life. He has morality and spirituality without believing in a specific deity.

    I could go on and on about religion and spirituality since I am one of those Christians who is firm in her beliefs but never wants to force them on others. However, I don’t want to hog your comments so I will stop here. 🙂

    1. Robin

      August 20, 2009 at 4:53 pm

      @Hilly, I hope I didn’t come across arrogant in my post, I was just getting a little frustrated with a conversation that was going in circles and was giving me few answers.

  6. Hilly

    August 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Oh no, you didn’t seem arrogant at all. I was actually trying to agree with you in my own way!

    1. Robin

      August 20, 2009 at 4:56 pm

      @Hilly, I appreciated your answer, I like how you see it.

  7. Miss Britt

    August 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    I think your friend is confusing “agnostic” with “atheist”.

    You clarified it well here. Agnostic simply means that you’re not sure. Atheist means you are sure that there isn’t a soul, God, etc. etc. etc. etc.

  8. Maureen

    August 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I think that your friend has a narrow definition of ‘spiritual’ and, also, that she does not really understand the word ‘agnostic’.

    To me, anyway, ‘agnostic’ allows that anything spiritual is unknowable – *not* that it is all wrong. Agnosticism allows that there is much that we don’t know & can’t know, that may still be possible.

    Her definition of spiritual seems to require a belief, a ‘knowing’, a choice that ‘this is right’ or ‘that is right’ or ‘surely, we can all agree that something spiritual exists, even if we can’t agree on what that thing is’.

    Her definition excludes the possibility of atheism. Agnosticism includes that as a possibility.

    That’s the only difference I see between her definition of ‘spiritual’ and your definition.

    1. Robin

      August 24, 2009 at 11:44 am

      @Maureen, I totally agree.

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