What is all this about 'spirituality' and 'relgion'?

Although this starts of as a question, but I presume it will lead to some debate and so I put it here rather than in GQ. Mods are free to move it as they deem appropriate.

When religion is discussed, very often I have come across the use of this word in its various forms – ‘of the spirit’, ‘spirituality’, ‘spiritual’ etc. Atheists are told, and quite often condescendingly, that religion is ‘spiritual’, that it is a matter of ‘spirituality’ and so looking for hard evidence will not, and does not, help. I therefore would like to get a better understanding of this thing called ‘spirituality’.

From what I read about its definition in the dictionary, it appears to be ‘relating to sacred matters’ or ‘ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal’ or ‘concerned with religious values’. As far as I can see all of these relate to ‘religion’.

So, is the religious person when claiming that his or religion is based on ‘spirituality’ implying that he is religious because he is ‘religious’(I have replaced the word ‘spiritual’ here)? Is there any great difference between religious and spiritual. In so far as I can see they are almost the same.

Moreover I would like to get some more insight into what exactly it is that is ‘spiritual’? Why does one necessarily have to be ‘spiritual’ which it seems to me is something near opposite of ‘real’ or ‘secular’, the latter appearing as the antonym of ‘spiritual’? Spiritual, belief in divinity, belief in the supernatural are all the same and so are these also the chracteristics of the ‘faith’ based religion.

In essence therefore, it can be reasonably conculded that a religious person believes in the supernatural.

No doubt religion is a matter of faith. But the question that an atheist has is “where does the faith come from and why is it needed”? Is it impossible for the religious to be what they are if they do not have what they call as “faith”? And if not, why? If they think they will be a different personality without it, then again why? Why does it take a religious person to be of faith or have faith in the supernatural to be what he is?

I am quite sure that humans were not harming other humans before the advent of any of the religions. Why is it not possible to be the same now?

Other animals will harm others of their own species in various circumstances (fighting for territory or mates is a popular one), and we don’t have any evidence that they have religions. Why should humans need religion to do so?

I’m not sure how this fits into the rest of your post, but it does seem dubious.

I hear people describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious”. I guess it means aware of some greater purpose or meaning that humans’ lives have, but not part of an organized system or set of teachings, particularly to the exclusion of others?

I’m quite sure that people were harming each other (and not harming each other) before man created god. We can see that the creation of god hasn’t helped much in the peace department, so my question would be why continue on with a plan that isn’t working?

There is a spiritual realm which is a blanket way of referring to God as well as all the other beings existing who exist above and beyond the physical realm. In addition humans, have a spiritual sense which allows them to interact with the spiritual levels. (As with all the other senses, it ranges from extremely well-developed in some people to non-existent in others.) Spiritual matters would simply mean matters related to the spiritual sense and the spiritual realm.

Religion, as I define it, merely means any approach to spiritual matters in a systematic, organized way. Hence one can be “spiritual but not religious” (though I’m not sure it’s a good thing) but one cannot be religious without being spiritual.

This is a somewhat vacuous statement, since, to the best of our knowledge, religion is as old as humanity. We’ve found evidence of spiritual belief and worship in cave-dwelling times. On the other hand, anyone who’s knows 20th century history knows that humans beings certainly were harming other humans after religion.

First of all, God was not created, he did the creating. Secondly, not only has God helped much in the peace department, but he’s the only thing that ever has.

Nontheist here: spiritual is often used to describe things that are neither physical nor purely mental constructs (such as emotions, dreams, and delusions). The typical atheists believes the set of spiritual things to be empty.

Religion relates to a belief system, typically about spiritual things.

Not precisely the same thing. Also note that some people consider ‘supernatural’ to refer to a specific subset of spiritual things, to which they may or may not believe their deity to belong.

“Religious” and “spiritual” mean very different things. I would say that to be spiritual involves belief or active involvement in the supernatural. A belief in spirits, at the basest point. Religion, on the other hand, would refer in my book to a certain codified set of laws and guidelines as part of a spiritual life.

Think of it in terms of football. A spiritual person is like a person who’s interested in the game. They don’t necessarily support a team, although they might do. A person who believes in ghosts could be said to be spiritual; they don’t follow any particular way, but they do involve themselves in that belief. A religious person is like someone who supports a particular team; who’ll root for that team as being superior to the others. But not only that; they’ll wear that team’s colours. They might have a sing-song on the way to their matches in the bus. They have a sense of camaraderie with other supporters of their team. A Christian is a religious person; they have their own “team”, a set of standards that they’ll follow, a sense of community and belonging. But they’re also spiritual, in that they do at the core of it just believe - just love the game.

An atheist is a bad counterpoint to being religious. Being an athiest merely means you don’t believe in any gods. It’s perfectly possible to be religious without believing in gods. I would go with “non-spiritual atheist” or some other term, lest you offend those atheists that do believe in some form of spirituality or religion.

Oh, and i’m pretty damn sure humans were harming each other before religion, and they’ll be harming people after it (should it ever go). I’d be extremely interested to hear your explanations of why no atheists would ever hurt someone, ever. They certainly seem to be able to.

This question I do not understand.

In these matters it is by definition difficult to be exact. But to the question “what it is that is ‘spritual’”, I think one means “a person who recognize the spirit world (and also in his or hers everyday life is open to it)”. Thus the word ‘spiritual’ is only useful if you believe there is a “spirit world”.

I did not know one had to be spiritual.

This is you making a statement which might not be entirely flawless, and then making an “reasonably” assumption based on it. But I for one can’t follow the logic here.

This is in essence very interesting, but seems like a totally different discussion (although the “needed” part is another statement you make, rather than a observation I agree with.)

This is another interesting question which seems a bit off: “Is it impossible for the canadiens/psychologists/cats to be what they are if they do not have what they call ‘fatherland’/education/whiskers” etc. That’s not a What is all this about ‘spirituality’ and ‘relgion’? type of question to me.

This seems like a collection of words with all lines broken down between them.

Most likely there hasn’t been a golden age when human beings did not believe in the spirit world. I would say belief in the supernatural is as old as conciousness. If nothing else, begin w. Freud if you’re interested in psychology and the question “why do we believe”.

But if you’re just bashing around among the religious, let it be, there are legions of dopers who does it much better.

I disagree entirely. A Satan that couldn’t cause peace would be very limited in terms of the evil he could accomplish.

Spiritualism is to me awareness of and/or interaction with supernatural beings such as God the Father, Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, Angels, and for that matter deceptive evil spirits such as demons, fallen angles and the devil himself. These interactions can manifest themselves in several ways including visions, revelations, prophecy, to name a few. It is the interaction between Man and God (or other being) on a personal level.

Religion is more the rules man has developed to help define what God is and what He wants us to do (as we all know God must fit in a neat little man made box)

I would say that the difference, such as it is, between the “religious” and the “spiritual” is that the word “religious” tends to connote beliefs and practices which are more well-defined and codified, while the word spirtual tends to be used a little more impressionistically, personally and emotionally. “Spirituality” is a word that people use to refer to internal, often abstract or difficult to verbalize feelings, convictions or intuitions which come from within themselves. “Religion” refers to codified systems of belief and practice which are essentially external and learned, and which may or may not accord with those internal “spiritual” intuitions.

“Spirituality” is innate and individual and uncodified. “Religion” refers to external social conventions and institutions.

Generally speaking anyway.

Chimpanzees kill each other without religion.

A Satan? Like we need more then one. Satan just wants us to not be saved, that’s it. It doesn’t matter how he does it, if Satan could make the earth a utopia and he could manifest himself as ‘god’ and have everyone on the earth bow down and worship him he would. If Satan could make the earth a war torn nuclear wasteland where everyone is praying to a groundhog, he would be fine with that too.

Does anyone find it odd that we castigate Mel Gibson for falsely asserting that Jews cause all wars, but we see no anger when wisernow falsely asserts that religious people cause all wars?

God is fiction, created by humanity. There’s no evidence that he’s even possible, much less real.

And there’s also no evidence that peace has ever been made by anything but humans deciding that they want peace, nor is there evidence that belief in or following God makes people the slightest bit more moral or peaceful. If anything, it’s the opposite.

This is simply the standard religious tactic of stealing credit for anything and everything good. We didn’t make peace; God did ! Those fire fighters didn’t save those children; God did ! Doctors didn’t save that man’s life; God did ! It’s disgusting, in any number of ways. Even in the rare cases when good comes from religion, it’s not because God reached out his imaginary hand, it’s because the mere mortals you like to pretend are useless got off their butts and personally did something to help.

Oh, we were. Religion just makes it worse. It creates artificial divisions, and gives people an excuse and motivations to kill that they wouldn’t have.

Nope. It’s good clean fun to accuse religions of evil. It’s somewhat acceptible to accuse a specific religion of evil. But it’s downright forbidden to accuse a religion that is also a race of evil. And it’s even worse to pick on the Jews since they’ve been picked on forever. (The same thing goes for picking on blacks.)

Then it seems we agree.

Notice that religious people in this thread haven’t shown anger either. You hypocrite. :wink:

Heh-heh…the difference is, I don’t have to prove a negative! Put your miracles where your mouth is!

Wow, that’s some religion you’ve got that prevents you from believing in treaties, police officers, governments, laws, threats of punishment, difficult-to-cross terrain, or vast distances between peoples.

Not a single person in this thread has endorsed that statement. Not even Der Trihs has endorsed it, and that’s saying something.

If you’re wondering why you don’t see more pronounced moral outrage about it, it may have something to with the fact that “religion” does not denote any specific group or perceived “race,” or (more pointedly) to a specific ethnic/religious group which has been historically subjected to discrimination, racism, violence and the occasional genocide. “Religious people,” in fact, refers to the vast majority of the human race, both past and present. While Wisernow’s statement is being received as naive and unjustified and groundless, its also not the same as antisemitism or racism.

I was not one of those who castigated Mel Gibson, by the way. He gave one of the few celebrity public apologies which I bought as authentic and sincere.