I lately find myself fascinated by the surging anti-religious mood in this country. It is both heartening and worrisome to me at the same time. I applaud the modern atheist assault on religious hypocrisy, especially in fundamentalist sects of all stripes. Religion has caused a great deal more problems than it has solved, it seems to me, so it's high time to set it in its place. But at the same time, I also worry about the atheists' denial of any kind of symbolic, spiritual life.
A number of the folks I've linked to in my list to the right are atheists, but the site I'd most recommend is Sacred Slut in the Temple of Reason. I recommend it not only because her site features one of the best layouts and great writing, but because its a blog that serves as a clearing house for lots of extremely reasonable voices in this community. It's also a site where I can occasionally play devil's advocate and actually get reasonable arguments rather than shouts.
Deep in Sacred's archives there is a post (read it here) in which she describes her "deconversion"--her move from a religious perspective to a secular, atheistic one. The story is that she came to a point where she began to shine the light of practical sense and reason on her beliefs, and found them wanting. Her investigation was a courageous one, and I admire her for it.
Except for one thing, Sacred's story is a lot like my own. Though my religious upbringing was different (I was raised a Lutheran), I too came to a point where I realized that the tenets of my religion were nonsense, and that I'd need to find truth elsewhere.
Sacred and I came to different conclusions, however. As she describes in her early post, Sacred came to the conclusion that there is no spirit, no reality separate from the body. Her conclusion was that everything commonly called mind or spirit or soul is in fact a manifestation of body, and that there is no supernatural reality separate from the physical.
But while I agree in the falseness of the religious premise, a similar investigation caused me to reach different conclusions from Sacred's.
The premise of the modern atheist is that all spiritual endeavor is inherently false. The belief is that what passes for mind or spirit in fact emanates from the physical. Our sensation of soul, in other words, is nothing more than a highly refined manifestation of matter.
My own investigations, on the other hand, continually point to another equally likely explanation: that the physical emanates from the energetic. What we know as "spiritual" in the end, simply refers to the realities we can't immediately see or grasp. The energy rather than the matter.
It's likely that neither Sacred nor myself is right or wrong. In the end, as Einstein showed, matter and energy are exactly the same thing.
And taking both meditation and daily vitamins is probably a better prescription for happiness than either one alone.