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My Take: 'I'm spiritual but not religious' is a cop-out
The author notes that more and more young people are rejecting traditional religion and taking up a variety of spiritual practices.
September 29th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: 'I'm spiritual but not religious' is a cop-out

By Alan Miller, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Alan Miller is Director of The New York Salon and Co-Founder of London's Old Truman Brewery. He is speaking at The Battle of Ideas at London's Barbican in October.

By Alan Miller, Special to CNN

The increasingly common refrain that "I'm spiritual, but not religious," represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society. The spiritual but not religious "movement" - an inappropriate term as that would suggest some collective, organizational aspect - highlights the implosion of belief that has struck at the heart of Western society.

Spiritual but not religious people are especially prevalent in the younger population in the United States, although a recent study has argued that it is not so much that people have stopped believing in God, but rather have drifted from formal institutions.

It seems that just being a part of a religious institution is nowadays associated negatively, with everything from the Religious Right to child abuse, back to the Crusades and of course with terrorism today.

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Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent - by choosing an "individual relationship" to some concept of "higher power", energy, oneness or something-or-other - they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church.

That attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that "feeling" something somehow is more pure and perhaps, more "true” than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us.

The trouble is that “spiritual but not religious” offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.

What is it, this "spiritual" identity as such? What is practiced? What is believed?

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The accusation is often leveled that such questions betray a rigidity of outlook, all a tad doctrinaire and rather old-fashioned.

But when the contemporary fashion is for an abundance of relativist "truths" and what appears to be in the ascendancy is how one "feels" and even governments aim to have a "happiness agenda," desperate to fill a gap at the heart of civic society, then being old-fashioned may not be such a terrible accusation.

It is within the context of today's anti-big, anti-discipline, anti-challenging climate - in combination with a therapeutic turn in which everything can be resolved through addressing my inner existential being - that the spiritual but not religious outlook has flourished.

The boom in megachurches merely reflect this sidelining of serious religious study for networking, drop-in centers and positive feelings.

Those that identify themselves, in our multi-cultural, hyphenated-American world often go for a smorgasbord of pick-and-mix choices.

A bit of Yoga here, a Zen idea there, a quote from Taoism and a Kabbalah class, a bit of Sufism and maybe some Feing Shui but not generally a reading and appreciation of The Bhagavad Gita, the Karma Sutra or the Qur'an, let alone The Old or New Testament.

So what, one may ask?

Christianity has been interwoven and seminal in Western history and culture. As Harold Bloom pointed out in his book on the King James Bible, everything from the visual arts, to Bach and our canon of literature generally would not be possible without this enormously important work.

Indeed, it was through the desire to know and read the Bible that reading became a reality for the masses - an entirely radical moment that had enormous consequences for humanity.

Moreover, the spiritual but not religious reflect the "me" generation of self-obsessed, truth-is-whatever-you-feel-it-to-be thinking, where big, historic, demanding institutions that have expectations about behavior, attitudes and observance and rules are jettisoned yet nothing positive is put in replacement.

The idea of sin has always been accompanied by the sense of what one could do to improve oneself and impact the world.

Yet the spiritual-but-not-religious outlook sees the human as one that simply wants to experience "nice things" and "feel better." There is little of transformation here and nothing that points to any kind of project that can inspire or transform us.

At the heart of the spiritual but not religious attitude is an unwillingness to take a real position. Influenced by the contribution of modern science, there is a reluctance to advocate a literalist translation of the world.

But these people will not abandon their affiliation to the sense that there is "something out there," so they do not go along with a rationalist and materialistic explanation of the world, in which humans are responsible to themselves and one another for their actions - and for the future.

Theirs is a world of fence-sitting, not-knowingess, but not-trying-ness either. Take a stand, I say. Which one is it? A belief in God and Scripture or a commitment to the Enlightenment ideal of human-based knowledge, reason and action? Being spiritual but not religious avoids having to think too hard about having to decide.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alan Miller.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Opinion • Spirituality

soundoff (9,993 Responses)
  1. shwiehl

    Wow; and Christians think others try to put them in a tiny little box. He made so many generalizations about "spiritual" people that it's hard to tackle it all and keep this brief. Let's just say that we don't all feel we need to follow indoctrinated laws made by people centuries ago because we are following far more powerful laws; laws of nature, science, and humanity. And my spiritual beliefs are deeper, for me personally, because they speak to me, comfort me, and I believe firmly in them; just as Christians would tell me about their own faith. That ultimately, is religion, or spirituality.

    October 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  2. mytake

    my take is that spiritual not religious is not a cop out
    it takes more effort to think things thru than to follow or lead blindly so 'they' are not lazy
    it takes more effort to not get sucked into the war drum beat – then to become mesmerized by it
    look at the picture of the author – look who he is speaking to – are those people he is speaking to following, leading, leaving or thinking for themselves?
    the are listening (appear to be)
    without these people being there to listen to the author – would the author still have something to say?
    who would he say it to?
    if you shame the author – will you persuade him to see your way?
    or will he now know better how to address those in his group who do not follow – but think for themselves
    will he be able to convince more people who think for themselves to join his group?
    will he shame them or make them fear for something enough to motivate them to move more toward his way of thinking?
    or away?
    would he want to be someone who was thus manipulated in such a way, or would he then think of more ways to thus manipulate others in such a way, but not be thus manipulated?
    at the end of the day – does he thus envy and fear those whom are not manipulated in such a way, nor manipulate in such a way, or is he glad that others exist who can not be thus manipulated?
    how would he feel about someone in his group whom he has not manipulated to be manipulated?
    would he shame and cause fear to this non manipulated 'member' in order to further continue to manipulate until manipulated to manipulate?
    .....

    October 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Joey Navis

      mytake,, apparently u r not getting it. this isn't about effort. this is about groupthink. religion is seemingly the last bastion of groupthink left, due to the efforts and diligence of the so called scientific community. due to political correctness we can no longer hate minorities, we can't find comforts such as this anywhere except in religion. we r not gonna give this up so easily, as it cannot be proved that we are ignoramouses, and even though it might look that way, at least we are in the majority.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • mytake

      so i take it that you agree with me then
      it takes more effort to not think this group is ignorant – so therefore not as lazy as the group who thinks that those not in the group are ignorant because they are not in their perceived majority

      October 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  3. stupidfreshmen

    . I'm gonna do this now.

    October 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  4. stupid

    Screw revelations! That's not a part of the gospel! And generally, as always, FRESHMAN! *throws a soda on your jacket and makes a face*

    October 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  5. joannevalentinesimson

    I'm a scientist who has spent more than half a life exploring the spiritual dimension of human experience. Yes, I've read the New Testament, a good deal of the old testament, parts of the Bhagavad Gita, several Buddhist texts and very little of the Koran (I just couldn't get into it – didn't have much of a story line). I've also read MANY other books and essays on religion ans spirituality, and have gone on pilgrimages to holy spots around the world. I've written a book that summarizes my understanding of human spiritual experience and the way it influences relition and human social ethics. It is certainly not a cop-out. The book, if you're interested is at: http://www.amazon.com/God-that-Says-Scientists-Meditations/dp/1450549047/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1286802360&sr=1-2

    October 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      I would you believe in family.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Athy

      Anybody know how to write?

      October 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  6. Best News

    There is only one real GOD and His one true RELIGION

    that is revealed in an absolutely Matchless, most Wonderful and Superb MATHEMATICAL LANGUAGE!

    So it is time to be Spiritual, and yes, also rightfully Religious now!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com

    =UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES=

    October 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • waitasec

      don't you know that religion is nothing more than an opinion?

      October 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  7. PRISM 1234

    What we are seeing today is the reflection of human condition in our times. All advancements in knowledge we have today did not improve the condition of human character. IT rather exposes the depravity of it. Man does not want God, man wants his independence from Him. Yet he will make up for himself a god in imagination of his evil, sin-darkened heart, being willing to lie to himself, just so he wont' submit to his Maker. That's the unregenerate, fallen human nature.
    And what we see today, we will see more and more as timee passes, so when the time comes and the man spoken about in the Book of Revelation arrives, he will have an army ready to hail him! Just wait and you'll see. All of it is about to come to pass... This young generation will live to see it

    October 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Just because you hate humanity doesn't mean everyone else should.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      LOL~! Does speaking the raw, undiluted truth about our fallen human condition and need for Christ to redeem us mean "hating humanity"? You can lie to yourself telling you love yourself while down to level of beasts, but all you do is refusing to face who you are. Christ came to reveal God the Father and to give humanity hope. You, friend, by refusing Him only show what you are made out of!

      October 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Huebert

      My grandfather was told by his father that he would live to see the end times. My grandfather told my father the same thing. My father, a much more rational man, told me Christianity is 2000 years of any day now.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      The depravity of the human character? Sure thing, Prissy

      October 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      You think you speak "the truth", Prissy? Pull that bible out of your rectum

      October 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Madtown

      Christ came to reveal God the Father and to give humanity hope
      -------–
      Then, how come he didn't reveal to all humans on earth? How come there are so many who have no idea who he is? Do they have any chance to receive this hope?

      October 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      Prissy: Glad to see you are so much above the rest of us depraved people. Perhaps it is time to go meet Jesus. Do you have tall buildings where you live? Time is fleeting, Prisswad....Jeebus has a chubby just waiting for your silky mouth...don't miss his second coming

      October 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      In case you missed the memo, Priss....you are an arrogant d-bag

      October 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Cool post. '2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,' Read further for more judgement.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @PRISM

      What a wonderful refutation. So deep. Wait, try the opposite.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Sorry bullies, not a good idea to pick on those trying to stay on the narrow path.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      I don't care how much your wench, athena, approves.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      Anybody: It is not about Prissy trying to stay on the narrow path. It is about his pompousnes. F him, and all who agree with him. Is that clear enough for you?

      October 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "Then, how come he didn't reveal to all humans on earth? How come there are so many who have no idea who he is? Do they have any chance to receive this hope?"
      I believe with all my heart and soul and everything that's in me that there has never been a human soul ever born without God giving a chance to KNOW him. But it is up to us to seek Him, and we have promised that if we seek Him we shall find Him, if we seek Him with the WHOLE HEART.
      Go has imprinted on every human conscience a knowledge of Himself. It is through deceitfulness of our own fallen nature, and the love of Self and sin that so easily besets us that was numb the voices of our consciences and silence them. Then before long we don't have that witness in our hearts, and we become dead to God, the wall between us and Him growing thicker and taller, till we begin to believe that he doesn't even exists. That's our, human story. Only by humbling ourselves before God and becoming like little children knowing our need for Him , only then we can hear His voice in our hearts. That's why God often uses tragedies to humble human beings. Does this make Him evil? no, actually it is an act of mercy. Because it is better to suffer here in this valley of sorrow, then end up in the place of the damned from where no one ever comes out. And friend, this is NOT a fairy tale!

      October 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Meant to say
      "....without God giving them a chance to KNOW him"
      " But it is up to us to seek Him, and we have a promise"

      October 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Veritas

      You do understand that circular arguments are neither proof nor convincing?

      October 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      ooooh....a promise....you don't get any more convincing than that, nosiree

      October 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      Religion is a manmade club like any other, with rules and perks to make the club feel special from other clubs. The club gets together periodically and reinforces the delusions of members. Many branches of this club have dues.

      You've chosen the club that aligns best with your own fantasy of how to minimize your fear. You and others in the club are afraid so you've made up a god that soothes your fear by making decisions for you, helping you feel less alone in the universe, and promising you you'll live forever. Club gods offer other various perks to induce membership such as seeing dead relatives, virginal sex partners, planets to rule or even one's own god status.

      Jesus never existed, was and is king of nothing. You don't have to be afraid. You do not need religion.

      Deal with the lack of afterlife by celebrating life and family in the here and now. Be responsible for your own decisions. Be kind to the earth and others on it. Forge a path with determination or "go with the flow" and let life determine the course if you're the lazy type. Either way, you don't need a god or a club for any of that.

      October 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Madtown

      never been a human soul ever born without God giving a chance to KNOW him
      ------–
      Maybe, but what I was referring to was your statement about Jesus Christ. I meant that there are so many people, today and throughout history, that will never even know who Jesus is, based simply on where they are born and the social climate they're exposed to. You said Christ came to give humanity hope, and I say that for this to be true Christ would need to be available to all humans on earth. He simply is not. "God" is different altogether, most all cultures have their own ideas about God, and they may call God by a different name.

      October 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  8. Dan

    Wow- such a poorly articulated claim. If there is mysteries in the universe, one of them would be how the editorial staff at CNN ever permitted such a nasty little mess to go to print.

    October 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      Then I suppose there are no mysteries left. CNN was likely paid to allow the article as promotion for this guy's book.

      October 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What book?

      October 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  9. myweightinwords

    In my experience, the "cop out" is undeniably in blind, unexamined belief.

    A faith that can not survive what if, that can not ask after why, or how is not a faith worthy of the time invested.

    Or, that is my personal opinion at any rate.

    October 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @myweightinwords,

      I think that's the point of the article. It is directed at people who reject dogmatic organized religions (particularly those that emphasize inequality) but don't have a real falll-back plan and resort to "spiritual but not religious" as a mask to hide behind. This is a cop out.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Maybe my point wasn't clear in that my opinion is pretty directly the opposite of what the article says.

        Those who believe because they are told to believe or were raised in a faith, but have never examined what they believe, do not live a fully spiritual life.

        October 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Yeah, that is your own personal opinion, and it is wrong. It is wrong because you don't understand the reason why we who believe in Jesus Christ do believe in Him. To you it is only a silly blind faith, but you DON"T KNOW the One who is the author of our faith. That's the living, life giving element you're missing. SO, your opinion is just one among many... and that's all it is...

      October 2, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Yeah, that is your own personal opinion, and it is wrong.

        Which is your personal opinion. That's the thing about opinions, Prism, they can't be right or wrong. They're opinion.

        It is wrong because you don’t understand the reason why we who believe in Jesus Christ do believe in Him.

        In my experience everyone who says they believe, believes for different reasons, so no, I don't know your personal reason as we've never discussed it. Nor do I know that you are even the type of person I was making comment on.

        To you it is only a silly blind faith, but you DON”T KNOW the One who is the author of our faith

        You have to completely separate thoughts here. One, that I think blind faith is silly. Two that I don't know your god/reason for/author of faith.

        On the first count, blind faith is silly. It's dangerous and limiting. I don't care what that faith is in. Blind faith in the brakes on your care could kill you. Faith isn't meant to be blind. It's meant to be a living, breathing, growing part of who you are, examined and explored.

        Second, I don't care who/what/how you believe, or what your faith is in. My comment stands regardless.

        That’s the living, life giving element you’re missing.

        I'm not actually missing anything, but thank you for the concern. I examine my faith daily, I know what I believe and why.

        SO, your opinion is just one among many… and that’s all it is…

        And I never said differently.

        October 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Madtown

      your opinion is just one among many... and that's all it is
      -----
      As is yours.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Yeah, It is a true tragedy that so many people are born and go thru life, never comming to the knowledge of truth. They hide themselves behind excuses saying that no one can really know the truth.....And they scold those who know different.
      But the real reason they don't know the truth it is because they've rejected it in their hearts.
      So, all they will have as their lifelong "companions" is their blind opinions, until the day when they will have to face what they rejected to face when they still had time.

      October 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @myweightinwords,

      I'm with you on the blind followers.

      There is also the option of those people who reject the dogmatic religions and replace it with a va-gue unexamined belief in "spiritualism" without really making the effort to define it. This too is a cop out.

      This is different from people who are on a genuine journey of spiritual discovery. I recognize why this label "spiritual but not religious" appeals to them. For those in transition, great, it makes sense. For those who want it as their clubhouse, not so much.

      October 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        I suppose there is some truth to that, though I have mostly known people who were either stuck in blind dogma or on an ardent journey to find connection. Those who blindly cling to a vague notion of "spiritualism" haven't much crossed my path.

        I would agree that they, like those that cling to dogmatic faith without examination, are lost.

        October 3, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Madtown

      never comming to the knowledge of truth.
      ----
      What's interesting, is that others not like you most certainly come to knowledge of "the truth", it's just not the truth you claim. Also interesting is the fact that had you been born in a different culture, "the truth" as you would claim it in that instance would not be the same truth you claim today, being born in the culture that you have been.

      October 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      On the other hand, you have pompous punks like Prissy who feel that they have a priori knowledge of "the truth", to the point that they can preach.

      Prissy.....your empty proxy threats are laughable.

      October 3, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @myweightinwords,

      I think there are a lot of less-than-genuinely-philosohical people who use the "spiritual but not religious" label. This label has effectively replaced all the "new ager" stuff of 20 years ago – pyramid power, magical crystals, etc. There are still plenty of peddlars of mysticism for the gullible (or more kindly, non-critical thinkers) and they use the "spiritual but not religious" brand too.

      These are the targets of the 'cop out' assertion that I agreed with.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        See, I don't necessarily equate "new age" stuff with those who are not genuinely searching for what is good and true for them.

        Sure, there are those who are not genuine, or who are simply gullible (but then, that's true of those trapped in traditional dogmatic religions too).

        I guess a part of me just rebels at labels, largely because so many, like this author, use them to simply dismiss an entire group of people, based on some half-assed definition.

        It irks me.

        October 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @myweightinwords,

      yep – labels are a problem. There are a lot of people who want "in" to the "spiritual but not religious" label, for all kinds of reasons.

      October 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, PrissPot, have you been listening to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings? Have you come to grips with the fact that Barber was gay and yet wrote an incredibly beautiful piece of music, to which he later added a religious text? Is Barber in heaven?

      Hypocrite.

      October 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  10. Jeanette Hedges

    You would have to read some of the thirty odd books that I have read on spiritualism, Alan, to be enough of an expert to determine if alternative belief systems offer adequate "positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or principles of any kind," as you have claim that they do not. I can make some recommendations. Your article mainly reveals that you have not done the necessary research to draw the far-reaching conclusions that you have, and is therefore woefully inadequate.

    October 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  11. JK

    I suggest attending any open Twelve Step group to find out how people can be spiritual without being religious. Lives are saved there every day in more concrete ways than you find in the majority of churches. I've learned more about God from struggling addicts and my own recovery than from any preacher.

    When the student is ready, the Teacher appears.

    October 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      WCTU approved, the little socies.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      don't graduate.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I attended my first 12 step meeting in 1989 so I know what you are speaking about. We used to talk about how we came in through the back door and the basement. We seek spiritual progress not perfection. My progress led me to become a practical Catholic.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Bill, do you still have enough time to get it right? Or are you still playing ye olde carnality wheel?

      October 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The good news is I don't have to get it right. I only have to be willing.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      billy boy, where does it say that? Your imagination?

      October 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      billy, you spend your whole life chasing booze, then you...............Make a religion of NOT chasing booze. Sorry, you LOOZE.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous page 60 second paragraph

      October 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You presume too much. Typical contempt prior to investigation

      October 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      2 Corinthians 8:12

      October 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      billy boy, dose guys were reactin' to the beast at the time. They could loooooze everyting by the BEAST. 'Course now, da women are da killers. win-win?

      October 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Reboot R2. Your algorithms are skewed

      October 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  12. msherbin

    I think people call themselves "spiritual but not religious" so they can avoid having to discuss their personal beliefs with people like Alan Miller. You know, it's sort of like saying, "Why don't you mind your own business, Alan Miller?"

    October 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      You can't escape from the gubmint god. Sorry.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  13. Left unsaid

    Most organized religions have shifted over from service of the deity, to power, control, and money. Within each group are huge numbers of people who still believe in the purer spiritual aspects of their dogma, the the organization does not. I identify as a Christian Buddhist though it's a misnomer. If I find a million people who believe as I do, it is then and only then that it's "alright"? Yes, some people abandon religion because the dogma is too rigorous, but more because it's too ridiculous (in the true sense of the word- open to ridicule). I left "church" because where I am, all have left the true meaning of Jesus of Nazereth's teachings. But that's me.

    October 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Takes a man, and power from the Father. Don't quit.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  14. Lee

    Alan, you say: "Yet the spiritual-but-not-religious outlook sees the human as one that simply wants to experience "nice things" and "feel better."

    Now, friend, you are just making things up out of whole cloth. In my book, the spiritual-but-not-religious outlook sees the true human as one who is deeply committed to truth (no matter what container it comes in).

    "it was through the desire to know and read the Bible that reading became a reality for the masses"
    uh... not for the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Parsis, Wiccans, Voudon, and a heck of a lot of other masses. (tsk tsk, very cult-centric, wouldn't you say?)

    Full disclosure, I'm not a Christian. Nor am I a Buddhist or Advaitist, Hermetic Scientist or Wiccan, though the teachings given on those paths resonate deeply with me. And I do not align myself particularly with any of them. I am "spiritual-but-not-religious

    October 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  15. MochiChiChi

    Spiritualism is personal. After all, the only "soul" you will ultimately be left with is your own (if that). Organized religion is basically crowd control. Let's face it ... a lot of people need to be told how to think. Of course, there is the benefit of fellowship with like-minded individuals, but that can ultimately lead to closed-mindedness. Enlightenment occurs when you open your mind and your heart and shed the arrogant belief that only your religion is "the right one". My own belief is that there is a creator/benevolent-energy in the universe and that everyone uses their own religion to "plug in" to it. Study different religions and be informed. The common threads are love for your fellow man and a humble respect for "something" bigger than yourself. You don't have to see it and maybe it is not your birthright to ever understand it. Just live a good life and you can't go wrong.

    October 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Sounds cool, but your grade is 'F'. Sorry. Try again.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Anybody

      Tell me, do you ever plan on posting anything other than irrelevant and mindless drivel?

      October 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • FYI

      MochiChiChi,

      In case you are new here, @"Anybody know how to read?" is a nobody. Pfft.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Evolution, like Islam, is the perfect gang-banger religion, protected, of course. Athena approved.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Know What

      Yeah, @Anybody... and are Gravitationists warped!?

      October 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Anybody

      So then that's a no. Thanks for answering my question.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      hawaiiguest, what question? Your emotional outburst? Try some Scotch and the KJV. It's for old people. Look it up.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      How funny, the Anybody troll doesn't even recognize a question.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      hawaiiguest, seeum dogs is easy. 'Psa 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.'

      October 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      LOL So now a useless quote from a useless book. Good job troll.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      hawaiiguest, you da qween. You declared it. Please keep your followers away from me.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Wow Anybody, you really have nothing other than useless, mindless drivel.

      October 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  16. Jonathan Swift

    Speaking of Christianity-and its major premise being Jesus Christ is the son of God-in the New Testament, the words attributed to JC indicates that HE believed that prayers to God were to only be performed in private and alone. Why then does the Catholic church and most (if not all) of the manifold schisms of Christianity insist that you attend church to be considered faithful? I have never been to any Christian church that did not ask that you pray. This is in direct conflict with the words of JC, is it not? Anyway, as mentioned in this article, the various churches and faiths have committed such atrocities, in the past, and continue to do so to this day, it is any wonder that any thoughtful person would naturally want to distance themselves from the mainstream organized religions of the West and Middle East? As I do not consider myself to be "all-knowing” regarding any subject, much less theological matters, I consider myself to be agnostic, which gets me lumped into the group labeled "spiritual but not religious." It is hardly a "cop out," though. Considering the past and current acts that are being committed, "In The Name Of GOD!" there's just no way that the aforementioned organized religions are sources of higher authority on morality (with the possible exception being the Quakers). In high school we all took the mandatory course, "Americanism vs. Communism." Today, though, I fear the religious zealot the most. Humanity's technology is increasingly outracing its wisdom. And religious zealots-due to their all-certain, absolute belief in the reward of the afterlife for the righteous-are far more likely to unleash Hell-on-Earth than a person who is "spiritual but not religious."

    October 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Sounds like you're in a hard place, a valley of decision, so to speak.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Anybody know how to read?

    Christianity is family. There are so many servants trying to bust in and grab the loot. Inheritance doesn't work that way. I don't care what your gubmint pharisees say.

    October 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "Christianity is family."

      Family is family. Period. Every world religion hijacks the family unit for their own purposes and attempts to claim the family as their own, but are just nefarious interlopers atrempting to rob you and your loved ones of time, money and sanity.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      mass debazer sayz '.....Every world religion hijacks the family unit....' You are confused between the defs of religion and politics. Da gubmints do the hijackin'. Now offer up your virgin daughter to the sun god, so he reappears.

      October 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Series of posts by 'Bob' contain instances of the fallacy known as a Straw Man argument, along with other non sequiturs.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      October 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  18. powerful but not prestigious

    Thank you for putting the Kama Sutra on the same level as the Koran, the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita. This gives us a fair representation of how much you know of these works.

    October 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Huebert

      The Kama Sutra has lots of practical advice. The others are just mythology texts.

      October 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The Kama Sutra deserves far more respect.

      October 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  19. Bob

    I wonder how long it took the author to find such an incredibly wussy and perfect example of the type of people he's talking about for the accompanying picture, and I wonder if this person knows how their image is being used.

    October 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  20. stupid

    Freshmen suck! *hucks a milkshake* 'Religion in the abstract'

    October 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.