Often I hear that people are spiritual but not religious. What does this mean? To say that one is spiritual–does that mean that s/he believes in spirits? in ghosts? in some afterlife? in God even?
Next, what does it mean to be religious? To be religious means to follow a certain religion. So to put this into a common-language term, it means that someone still believes in (God, ghosts, the afterlife, souls, etc.) but doesn’t follow the dogmas, doctrines or any dictations of a certain religion.
Now here’s my question: WHY? Why do you still believe in God, souls, etc.?
Here have been a few replies:
1. “Because it makes me feel better.” Well, this argument is obviously flawed. That’s like saying that one should believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny for the pure fact that it makes one feel better. This argument doesn’t work.
2. “Because if I don’t believe in God and God exists, then I’m doomed to eternal torment.” Ahh, but wait a minute. You just said that you’re not religious. If you’re not religious, then why is it that you follow the dictates of a certain religion? It seems odd that you will not follow the dictates of the religion because you find it too dogmatic or you’re skeptical about it. But when it comes to hell, all the sudden you believe it. Aren’t you picking and choosing what to believe and what not based on what you feel is good for you? What it comes down to is that if the facts don’t correspond to your belief, you are more likely going to change the facts instead of your belief. On top of this, the belief that you will be condemned to hell is a religious belief, not a spiritual one.
3. “Because atheists are bad people. I’m not a bad person. Therefore, I’m not an atheist.” This is a bad argument. Assumption one is flawed. First of all, does it follow that all atheists are bad people? I’m sure you can think of many people who don’t believe in God yet are good people (the Buddha, for example). Likewise, I’m sure you can think of many people who are believers but aren’t that good. So one cannot assume to say that atheists are bad people because there are countless examples that don’t verify that fact.
In short, what I want to say to those people who say they aren’t religious, but spiritual. My reply to them is you’re really a skeptic, atheist, agnostic, doubter but you’re just afraid to admit that.