18 June 2012


Sacred and profane are not mutually exclusive.  If you read sacred literature closely, you will see how it is often the profane that is set aside for destruction, i.e. set aside for the deity.  The meaning of "set aside for destruction" is to "make sacred."

Spirituality and secularism are exclusive.  Or are they?  I have often pondered this question.  I consider myself secular, humanist and atheist, but I also have an aspect to my way of seeing and being that I cannot label anything other than spiritual.  It's not that I believe in fairy tale creatures or deities or ghosts or anything else supernatural.  It is more like a connection to Jung's collective unconscious (a term I find amusing, because to be unconscious is like being, you know, passed-out/fainted/...errr, unconscious).  While I'm not sure how much I hold to this idea, I do have a need to spend time in quiet contemplation, which could be equated to the spiritual practice of meditation -- which I am also interested in.

But, and this is a big-O but, I don't believe that we are genetically spiritual.  Some scientists have found "evidence" of spirituality in the brains of subjects.  I think a good experiment to follow this, is to have atheists go through similar tests, but to use non-spiritual language, images, etc., to see what kind of result they come up with.

No 'God Spot' In Brain, Spirituality Linked To Right Parietal Lobe

“We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions. “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences.”

There should also be the caveat here: spirituality does NOT by default mean YOUR specific brand of spirituality.  If there is a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, that does NOT mean there is a basis for a deity.  It is non sequitur to reach such a conclusion from this data.

I believe that people can have a form of, what could be called, spirituality without having recourse to deities or spirits.

I also believe that atheists can hold things as sacred.  What do atheists deem as sacred?  Sacredness usually connotes holiness or has a spiritual aspect, but can it not simply mean "set apart"?  They might hold their families as sacred, their friends, their intellect, even science.  They may hold the quiet beauty of the deep forest, or top of a mountain as sacred: not because it is inhabited by a spiritual being, but because it is a place where they can reach the deepest parts of themselves.

Atheists still have faith, right?  So why not sacredness?

Think about the things you consider sacred/profane; and about your outlook: is it more spiritual or secular?


Merriam Webster's Dictionary: Sacred - 1. a : dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity <a tree sacred to the gods> b : devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose) <a fund sacred to charity>

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