Natural Spirituality without God

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Astronomer (and Secular Chaplain) Carl Sagan used the word “spirituality” and “spirit” in the same manner we learned in seminary Hebrew and Greek. “Spirit” originally meant wind, breath.  Very fundamental to life.  Not supernatural, but radically, essentially Natural.  Here’s a rather humbling reminder from the good scientist (The Varieties of Scientific Experience):

I remind you of the elementary fact that we breathe the waste products of plants and plants breathe the waste products of humans.  A very intimate relationship if you think about it.  And that relationship is responsible for every breath you take.

Sagan goes on to say that, in his view, religions can contribute to this kind of “spirituality” or not:

So that sense that this is a world that is worth taking care of is, it seems to me, something that could be at the heart of religions that wished to make a significant contribution to the human future.

I’d call that a direct challenge to believers who have any interest in being “relevant.”

I’d also call it a wake up for nonbelievers to work beside believers to “contribute to the human future” and the future of all life.

After all, what’s the alternative?


I’ve posted the heart of my book, Life After Faith, that attempts to saunter out into this “breathing space,” deeper into Nature, our nature, and something I call a Natural Spirituality without God.

Try it on.  See if it fits.

Your comments are welcome.

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2 thoughts on “Natural Spirituality without God

  1. Personally, I find the word ‘spirituality’ practically meaningless. Some people say they feel spiritual when eating icecream. However, I think looking after our environment should be a top priority. We’re doing significant damage to it and we’re going to start paying a heavy price very soon.

    1. I get it, Mike. In fact, my essay collection, Nature is Enough, includes an essay titled “The End of Spirituality.” We’re obviously dealing with very problematic semantics to be sure! Meanwhile. . .during the transition. . .I live and work with people I want to communicate with, and this includes my choice to use a few carefully selected words to “bridge the gaps.” I teach a course on “Wild Spirituality” (focus on naturalistic philosophers) that attracts people who are in the process of leaving old trails for new trails. In the end, I agree, any words that even hint at a super added to the natural are ultimately meaningless. Thanks for the comment, and your own blog. (enjoy some ice cream!)

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