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Monday, December 5, 2016

An atheist church sermon

New Humanist (@NewHumanist)
Preaching to the converted: Julian Baggini reflects on giving an atheist church sermon. newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4952/…

...“I’m not religious, but I am spiritual.” I told the congregation what I thought people meant by this. They mean that they reject the creeds and institutions of traditional religions, organised or not. They can’t accept that any religion has a claim to divine truth when history suggests that every religion is the product of the particular time and place in which it emerged. Religions are too obviously human institutions to own universal truth, and sacred texts too obviously the product of the human hand to claim divine authorship.

Nor do the best-known teachings of the main religions make sense to them. They don’t believe in the stories of ancient miracles, of angels dictating God’s word, of a saviour rising from the dead. Even more unbelievable is the need to perform certain rituals in order to attain salvation, or at least to have a relationship with God.

But rejecting all this does not mean they are willing to embrace the full-blown naturalism of atheism. They cannot believe there is nothing more than the physical realm. They believe that there is more to life than the material, and that something they give the label “spiritual”.

All this I can see. But I think the division between the religious and the spiritual that it suggests is profoundly misleading. Consider the category of the “spiritual”. It is often used to cover anything that cannot be understood in purely physical terms, like love, beauty and morality. These things comprise the “something more” than the physical that those who call themselves spiritual often seek...

-Julian Baggini, continues

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