jeudi 18 août 2011

Alternative to religion

I was just reading some answers given to someone who said (on AskMeFi, an online message board) that she missed having "spirituality" in her life after she stopped believing in God. While I don't feel like anything is missing in my life, I *would* like to have answers for anyone who did feel this way. And I'm exploring this topic now because I'd also like to be prepared for the questions my children will (undoubtably) have about religion and why some people go to church and we don't.

Many of the responses the original poster on AskMeFi gets are about finding purpose and meaning from rationalism and science:

"You are simply missing awe. Genuine awe is the true religious experience."
[This totally made me think of the viral "Double Rainbow" video on Youtube.]

"There is some interesting stuff in terms of consciousness and how that relates to spirituality locked up in a string of totally readable and fantastic books on quantum physics. For all we know, God is a particle, or several particles, some of which we haven't discovered yet. Hell, just watching some of those awesome BBC Horizon documentaries about where the universe came from and how we fit into it all will give you a sense of wonder at the fact that here we are..."

Another video that was recommended is Brian Greene's Elegant Universe (

One of the best responses, in my opinion, is a link to an online book called "Secular Wholeness" ( I want to read this whole book, because it seems like the author has hit the nail on the head:

"I started this book asking, Why? Why do smart, sensible, practical people keep on putting time, effort, and money into religious practices? Any anthropologist has an immediate answer: they do it because their investment repays them with valuable goods that they don't get elsewhere!"

"See, religion isn't true, but religions delivery systems for psychological benefits. Every church is a one-stop shop for an array of useful, important, mental and emotional comforts.

That's the main reason the religion habit is hard to kick: if you give it up, you give up all kinds of fellowship, emotional comforts, and useful certainties.

But are people who have no religion denied those comforts? Of course not! We just have to be a little more flexible in our shopping. Secular Wholeness is a sourcebook showing where you can get the very goods for which believers sell their souls (or at least their consciences), and at a much lower cost."

I've mentioned this here before, how religion provides comfort and community, and how I think it's one of the main reasons that keeps my mother and grandmother (and others) going back. I'm pretty sure I've linked to an article on "secular humanism" here before, but here it is again:

For anyone who's interested, the whole discussion thread can be found here:

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