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Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’
The rapid rise of the "spiritual but not religious" crowd may not be such a bad thing.
February 22nd, 2014
09:06 PM ET

Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’

Opinion by Linda Mercadante, special to CNN

(CNN) -
Despite the ongoing decline in American religious institutions, the meteoric rise in people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious” should be seen positively - especially by religious people.

To accept this as good news, however, we need to listen to what they are saying, rather than ridicule them as “salad bar spiritualists” or eclectic dabblers.

After spending more than five years speaking with hundreds of “spiritual but not religious” folk across North America, I’ve come to see a certain set of core ideas among them. Because of their common themes, I think it’s fair to refer to them by the acronym: SBNR.

But before we explore what the SBNRs believe, we first need to learn what they protest.

First, they protest “scientism.” 

They’ve become wary about reducing everything that has value to what can only be discovered in the tangible world, restricting our intellectual confidence to that which can be observed and studied.

Their turn towards alternative health practices is just one sign of this. Of course, most do avail themselves of science’s benefits, and they often use scientific-sounding arguments (talking about “energy” or “quantum physics”) to justify their spiritual views.

But, in general, they don’t think all truth and value can be confined to our material reality.

Second, SBNRs protest “secularism.” 

They are tired of being confined by systems and structures. They are tired of having their unique identities reduced to bureaucratic codes. They are tired of having their spiritual natures squelched or denied.

They play by society’s rules: hold down jobs, take care of friends and family and try to do some good in the world. But they implicitly protest being rendered invisible and unheard.

Third, yes, they protest religion – at least, two types of it.

But the SBNR rejection of religion is sometimes more about style than substance.

On one hand, they protest “rigid religion,” objecting to a certain brand of conservatism that insists there is only one way to express spirituality, faith, and the search for transcendence.

But they also protest what I call “comatose religion.”

After the shocks of the previous decades, and the declines in religious structures and funding, many religious people are dazed and confused.

They are puzzled and hurt that so many – including their own children - are deserting what was once a vibrant, engaging, and thriving part of American society.

So why, then, is it “good news” that there is a huge rise in the “spiritual but not religious”? Because their protests are the very same things that deeply concern – or should concern – all of us.

The rise in SBNRs is the archetypal “wake up call,” and I sense that, at last, religious leaders are beginning to hear it.

The history of religion in Western society shows that, sooner or later, people grasp the situation and find new ways of expressing their faith that speak to their contemporaries.

In the meantime, there are plenty of vital congregations in our society. In the vast mall of American religious options, it is misguided to dismiss all of our spiritual choices as moribund, corrupt, or old-fashioned – even though so many do.

What has prompted SBNRs, and others, to make this dismissal?

For one thing, many religious groups are not reaching out to the SBNRs. They need to understand them and speak their language, rather than being fearful or dismissive.

Second, the media often highlights the extremes and bad behavior of a few religious people and groups.  But we don’t automatically give up on other collections of fallible human beings, like our jobs, our families, or our own selves.  Some attitude adjustment is needed by both religious people and SBNRs.

Finally, SBNRs need to give up the easy ideology that says religion is unnecessary, all the same, or outmoded. And all of us should discard the unworkable idea that you must find a spiritual or religious group with which you totally agree.  Even if such a group could be found, chances are it would soon become quite boring.

There’s no getting around this fact: It is hard work to nurture the life of faith. The road is narrow and sometimes bumpy. It is essential to have others along with us on the journey.

All of us, not just religious people, are in danger of becoming rigid or comatose, inflexible or numb.  All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about.

Linda Mercadante, is professor of theology at The Methodist Theological School and the founder of Healthy Beliefs – Healthy Spirit.  She is the author of “Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.

The views expressed in this column belong to Mercadante.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Lost faith • Nones • Opinion • Spirituality • Trends

soundoff (1,265 Responses)
  1. Julia

    For me SBNR is just full of hokum from start to finnish. More wishful thinking or DIYS religion. If this is your thing enjoy but don't ask me to be a part of it because I'll tell you, you are full of what makes the grass green and I'm not talking about water!

    February 24, 2014 at 12:51 am |
    • sam stone

      Are they asking you to be part of it, Julia?

      And what is DIYS?

      February 24, 2014 at 5:24 am |
  2. ssanders11

    Nope, Athiest 🙂

    February 24, 2014 at 12:04 am |
  3. jonkossow

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLWjnPV1GsU&w=640&h=390]

    February 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
    • tomskorupski

      Steaming bunch of cow pie. It's about as nice as i can put it.

      February 23, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
      • Anthony Crispino

        Yeah, but it looks kinda gold and sparkly. I'm sure you can get something for it at that place where my nephew Toolie turns in the hubcaps he finds.

        February 23, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Idiots on the internet are a dime a dozen.
      This one's elevator doesn't go all the way to the top.
      A pile of dung, if ever I saw one.

      February 23, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
  4. raforrester

    Sorry about the delay. The weather was too fine to not be outdoors today.

    "Always the "anger" angle. I wonder why? The opposite of "love" is not "hate", it is indifference."

    I don't know. I know I was angry until I was in my forties but didn't even know it until it suddenly went away. It was like a light being turned off that I didn't even notice was on until it went out. My anger was not really related to religion much, but it certainly came out AT religion.

    "You seem to believe that a) all atheists are "angry" b) all atheists had a bad personal experience with religion that caused and/or contributed to their atheism"

    No, see my answer above. Some atheists on this comment section declare their early experiences with religion. I can relate to that, but all the atheists I know are fine people. They care enough to actually think about it and come to a conclusion, but don't get indignant when others don't agree.

    "c) that we are somehow "blind" to the supernatural."

    The atheists I know did seem to just not give more than a passing glance to the weirdness and when it was pointed out they could not fit it into their belief system. I was an agnostic, but I recognized that these events meant that reality could not be what it looked like. I thought that was too important an observation to let it go, and I started really looking for other stuff, and looking really hard to see if it had other explanations. Most of it did have other explanations, but some didn't.

    "A personal experience is fine, but without corrobrating evidence of some kind, I don't have enough faith in our ability as objective observers to take it on your word alone. That's fair right? Do you have anything to back this up?"

    That's quite fair. I don't ask you to take anything on my word. Nothing I can say here is evidence of anything, because it is just words. I could be making it all up. Ask your friends and family if anything weird has happened in their lives. If you are known to be argumentative people may not be willing to tell you. You may have to promise to listen, and then keep the promise. What would you think of doing that? I'd be really interested in hearing the results.

    February 23, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
    • raforrester

      Oops. This was supposed to be a reply to someone.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
  5. Austin

    @Akira. Jesus was sinless and his flesh was cursed as he was born of God . The devil tempted him but he was not tempted . The desire to sin was not in him.
    Our emotions are of the flesh . That is cursed

    February 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
    • Austin

      His flesh was not cursed.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
      • Doris

        Well duhhhh! Why would a bunch of women be screaming foul language at a little baby anyway?? Now while the child was being delivered the mother might have had a few choice things to say...

        February 23, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
    • doobzz

      If Jesus was sinless, then he wasn't human. So the whole "god made flesh" thing is false.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        If he was "born of a virgin" his DNA was also not human. Buncha goofy nonsense.

        February 23, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
        • doobzz

          Exactly. If he was born with sin, he's not the perfect, sinless sacrificial lamb. If he what born without sin, he's not truly human, therefore not the representative man.

          If you believe in all that inherited sin and human sacrifice crap, anyway.

          February 23, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
    • Akira

      So Jesus was emotionless. Incapable of feeling emotions, Austin? Yes or no? And give me either a yes or a no, please.

      I cannot believe you are now positing emotions are a sin.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:52 pm |
      • Austin

        Akira going back four hours. Emotions are not a part of the soul. That was the point .

        February 23, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
        • Austin

          Emotions can be deceiving as can be the heart. This is different than ones soul. Christ did not have emotions that lead him into lust. He had no evil desires. He was not tempted as the devil tempted him.

          February 23, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
    • tomskorupski

      @Austin. Of course you can't sin if you make the rules as you go along. There are plenty of examples in the bible of Jesus going agains God's laws because hey! It's the new testament! Out with the old and in with the new. Oh wait...

      February 23, 2014 at 11:13 pm |
      • Austin

        The old law was condemnation. The new law was is one of liberty.

        February 23, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      You are delusional, Austin

      February 24, 2014 at 5:28 am |
    • sam stone

      Isn't faith an emotion too, Austin

      Is faith cursed?

      February 24, 2014 at 5:31 am |
  6. readerpan

    Faith is belief in something for which there is no evidence. It is emotion as opposed to reason and should have no place in government of any stripe.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
  7. readerpan

    test message

    February 23, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
  8. optikradio

    This author doesn't seem to know what the term 'Secularism' means.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:21 pm |
  9. SeaVik

    Does anyone else wonder if "Austin" is Rick Perry? They seem of about the same level of intelligence.

    February 23, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
    • Akira

      I don't know; would Governor Perry say something like "emotions are of the fallen flesh", implying that Jesus was emotionless?

      February 23, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
      • doobzz

        I dunno. He got pretty pissed at the fig tree that didn't have any figs on it in the wrong season.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
        • Austin

          At enunia Lol. Over confident . I worry about those people. I also tell the truth. Akira was right about me cherry picking earlier.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
        • doobzz

          @ Austin

          I have no idea what you are talking about.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
        • Akira

          I never understood that one, either. He could just as easily have made the tree bear fruit as He did to either and die. I guess there's a lesson or a parable, but I'll be darned if I can figure it out.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
        • doobzz

          I never understood why he had to go up and look at the tree. Wouldn't he already know if it had figs, being god and all?

          February 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
      • Austin

        I wasn't referring to Christ.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
        • Akira

          You cannot have it both ways, Austin. If Jesus was flesh and blood , He felt emotions, as every single person ever born has. If He didn't feel emotion, He didn't feel. I can't imagine you would want to portray Jesus as some emotionless bot.

          February 23, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
  10. new-man

    Your ‘Work’ Is To Enter His Rest

    Hebrews 4:10–11
    10… he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest...

    A baby learns to sit first before he starts to stand and walk. The Christian life also begins with sitting. God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. (Ephesians 2:6) How well we walk after that depends on how well we sit and rest in the finished work of Christ.

    The promised land was a land of rest where God promised His people “large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant”. (Deuteronomy 6:10–11)

    But for 40 years, God’s people wandered in the wilderness because they refused to believe that God had given them a land where everything had been prepared — the work was finished. They could not believe that God had given them a land full of riches to enjoy, a land which just flowed with His goodness.

    Today, there are believers who still cannot believe that the work of Jesus is truly complete and finished. They are trying to complete a completed work, finish a finished work and defeat a defeated devil.

    There are believers today who are always working and trying to produce their healing, prosperity, success and victory. God wants us to stop trying and start trusting in His love for us. He wants us to stop working and struggling, and start resting and believing in His grace toward us.

    The only “work” left for us to do today is to enter His rest. We are to labor every day to enter His rest. We are to rest inwardly and believe that the work is done because it is a finished work, and trust in God’s undeserved favor toward us. We are to rest in Jesus our true ark, who will carry us through tempestuous waters.

    So today, “if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts… be diligent to enter that rest”. (Hebrews 4:7, 11) Let’s enter His rest. Let’s enjoy sitting together with Christ in the heavenly places, then we will run and not be weary! (Isaiah 40:31)

    February 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm |
    • SeaVik

      All babies are atheists. Chew on that.

      February 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
      • new-man

        obviously you've told yourself this long enough that you actually believe it. Good luck with that!

        February 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
        • Akira

          You were born believing in God?

          February 23, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
        • Akira

          You remember being born and knowing who God is?

          February 23, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
        • Akira

          And completely incapable of instant belief, I agree.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:54 pm |
        • SeaVik

          It's a fact unless you think babies are born with a belief in a god. I don't have to tell myself that, the dictionary tells me that fact.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        All babies are self-centered and fussy creatures with little understanding of how the universe operates.

        February 23, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Also true.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
        • Akira

          And completely incapable of instant belief or sin, I agree.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:57 pm |
        • derado8

          People are self-centered and fussy creatures with little understanding of how the universe operates.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
    • Reality

      And now returning to the 21st century:

      (Only for the new members)

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

      February 23, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
      • Austin

        Google Israel Dan. They can trace 4 y strands and it is telling.

        February 23, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
        • Austin

          Dna

          February 23, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
        • Reality

          And exactly what is this telling us?

          February 24, 2014 at 6:53 am |
    • tomskorupski

      Snakes talk. People live 3 days in the belly of a whale. God speaks through Donkeys (I didn't use Ass as this would be offensive). Bear tears up 42 children for making fun of a man. Who writes this stuff?! and what were they tripping on? I want some of what they were having!

      February 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
  11. tkreck

    "All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about."

    Really? Religion has nothing to do with ultimate reality, the actual nature and existence of God (or lack thereof), or "capital-T 'Truth' "? I see lots of buzzwords related to "faith" and "belief" in this article, but nothing of true substance. Of what value is faith if what that faith is based upon isn't true? If your spiritual journey consists merely of walking the path that "works" for you, are you not simply creating your own god? And if so, is not the worship of a god of your own making really just worshiping yourself?

    February 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
    • ddeevviinn

      " is not the worship of of a God of your own making really just worshiping yourself"?

      Yes, I think it is, but a fact which for me as a christian is irrelevant. My faith indicates that there is one true God who has revealed information about Himself through creation, the written form and in the person of Jesus Christ. Now while you may choose to dismiss this, and that's your absolute prerogative, as mythology and not "true", it is not a belief in a God of my "own making."

      February 23, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        The gods revealed to followers of Hinduism, Sikhism, Shinto, etc. are they gods of their own making? If yes, how did you determine that their gods are not real and yours is? They are the same claims with the same evidence. If no, why don't you worship those gods?

        February 23, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          All logical and valid questions and yet ripe with a flawed inference. The claim is routinely made that because there are numerous religions, all with their own take on truth, that that fact in and of itself precludes the possibility that one is true.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
        • eudaimonia2013

          Asking you to reveal the reasoning and basis for your choice among many is fair, justice, reasonable and an openness to receive information.... the opposite of precluding a possibility.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          Yes, it is "fair" to ask for the reasoning behind my choice. Unfortunately, having done so on more than a few occasions, it becomes apparent that it only serves as more " fuel" for the atheists fire.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
        • eudaimonia2013

          I can guess, but I am not certain I know what you mean by fueling atheist fire.. So, I'll just offer that if by fire you mean that you think atheists reach a conclusion that a thing is nullified if more than one of that thing exists.. I would say you are headed in the right direction but not quite there.. Atheists value reason.. for every conclusion the interest is on the reasoning behind it.. It would be a mistake to stop at "number" and ignore why "number" is relevant. When more than one similar claim comes into play, it is important to know the reasons for the distinctions. Especially if the claim being made is that it stands out among others. You want to isolate whatever variable is the valuable distinguishing one among the claims and evaluate that. In this case, if a person claims that a single ent.ity is the supreme authority (also "sole") and there are others making the claim – the value is not in the number of people making the claim but what you want to assess is the overriding reasons that allow the person to reject one, several or all claims or accept one, several or all claims.

          An atheist may have come to the conclusion that they are all the same and hope that you will journey the road of reason and reach the same conclusion. Unfortunately, most believers are just that- believers and cannot do this. An atheist will not value an acceptance of something not founded upon empirical evidence as a good reason for an outrageous claim.

          Speaking for myself, I am often thrilled when I get the rare treat of speaking with someone who has actually challenged their belief in this way. One of my closest friends is a professor and a devout believer in god. He accepts that his belief is absurd, but knows why he believes in the absurd- because of fear.. because of discipline among many other things that are more valuable to him than the pain of disbelief for it's own logical sake could provide socially and psychologically for him.

          I digress.. though.. good night..

          February 23, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
        • tkreck

          I'm not sure why you say the claims and evidence of Hinduism, Sikhism, Shinto, etc. are the same as that of Christianity unless you mean in the most broad sense of claiming to have truth about the supernatural. As soon as you get specific, the claims and evidence of each are radically different.

          Having examined evidence such as Big Bang cosmology (yup, I'm what you'd call an "old earth" creationist), the Cambrian explosion in the fossil record, the problems of abiogenesis, and textual criticism of the Bible, I've found that the Bible describes historical events and other aspects of reality much more plausibly than any other faith system.

          For these reasons and others, I am a Christian; my beliefs come from my best discernment of what aligns with reality, not because it is merely a faith system that appeals to, or simply "works" for me.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
  12. Jeebusss

    I don't know who I have less respect for. Those that buy the whole religious package of nonsense hook-line-and gullible sinker, or those who can see how full of BS organized religion is but still somehow can't see how completely childish any sort of supernatural belief is.

    It's like different flavors of the same nonsense.

    February 23, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
    • Austin

      "full of BS organized religion is" the book of 1st Timothy Chapter one tells us about how Satan was trying to inflitrate the church through devil following people, and possible believers led astray by the devil. in this case, they were teaching a false doctrine on the resurrection , and so in this sense they probably were not saved.

      I have experienced the truth bearing spirit.

      I would further tell you that God has given us His word as direct evidence and proof of His presence.
      He is not far away.

      February 23, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
      • Austin

        3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer

        which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

        so, at least be studious and intellectual and understand what is said to be going on so you can give yourself a fair shot at not lying to yourself and others.

        February 23, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without se.xual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.
          -Justin Martyr

          February 23, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
      • SeaVik

        I have directly experienced first hand the lack of existence of any gods. I personally saw with my own eyes, no gods. I am so sorry that you haven't had the same experience, but trust me, it's true.

        February 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
        • tomskorupski

          So why are we expected to believe without the kind of direct evidence you've received?

          February 23, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
        • tomskorupski

          Never mind i read your post incorrectly. please ignore my last post.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
      • tomskorupski

        If you believe in the Bible and have read the book then you will realize home much he treats women as second rate humans. Women are blamed for sin. They are punished via increased pain through childbirth. Adam is Eve's master. Women should be quiet, listen, be obedient and definitely not teach. You can take your Bible and shove it.

        February 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
      • sam stone

        You are a pathological liar, Austin

        You claim to have proof, but you never present it

        You are like Gopher

        Both delusional

        February 24, 2014 at 5:38 am |
  13. Vic

    I noticed from some comments here that there are some misconceptions regarding the protest against 'Scientism' and 'Secularism' by SBNRs.

    The protest is NOT against science and structure, rather, the protest is against the 'dehumanization' of the human being by reducing him/her down to only matter and rules, and is against dismissing the "spirit & soul" which give every individual his/her unique
    "person."

    As a Christian and SBNR, I embrace and advocate Empirical Science and Order, and I believe the human being is "spirit, body & soul."

    Early on:
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/22/good-news-about-the-spiritual-but-not-religious/comment-page-4/#comment-2951368

    February 23, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      " I believe the human being is "spirit, body & soul."

      That certainly a belief, though I think most would word it "mind, body and soul". Since I only believe in one of the three, you can see where I would have to disagree with the details, even if I do agree with the general thrust of your argument.

      February 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm |
      • eudaimonia2013

        The terms Spirit and Soul stem from the belief in something outside of the material world. This is pure speculation and a position usually obtained because of the absence of a concrete definition and understanding of "consciousness" or what makes us "animated".. so many tend to attribute this part of ourselves to the "spirit" world.. The psychology and neurology filed are pretty much babies in terms of providing satisfactory answers to the masses and this does not lend much confidence in their conclusions.. The problem is the answer imo shouldn't automatically be a supernatural one.. Although I understand it is a comforting one.. We are overly confident in our individual experiences to the point that any experience that can't be explained MUST be something extra special.. extra sensory.. or supernaturally related.. IMO that is a product of the narcissistic scientific laziness of our society...

        Based on past scientific progress over thousands of years.. I put my bet on the method of science explaining our uniqueness.. rather than myths, personal opinion and unexplained phenomena as a way to define the "self."

        IMO we produce is a complex mix of personality and biology.. Our personality cultivated by external influence, biology and conscious and unconscious habits/choices.. Our choices= resulting in character.. Our mood= interpreted as "spirit". This is less se.xy, romantic, beautiful etc.. but I'd like to get past that so that we can evaluate ourselves and the world better.. Thousands of years ago it was less se.xy, romantic, beautiful to admit that we humans were not the central ent.ity of which the entire universe revolves, but the opposite and also that we may be inconsequential comparatively.. But, that did not eliminate beauty or mystery.. It put us in our proper place.. In our minuteness.. we find more awe of the things around us.. curiosity and wonder.. no longer accepting that we are the special creations of an elusive being that chooses to communicate through very controversial ambiguous methods.. We have more responsibility and thus more relevance in that responsibility than before..

        February 23, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
        • eudaimonia2013

          field not "filed" and IMO what we produce not "IMO we produce"

          February 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
        • Austin

          absence of a concrete definition and understanding of "consciousness"

          no the Holy Spirit communicates with people. I have over 30 examples of revelation where i wrote down a subjective dream and it objectively came true. I have experienced spiritual revelation. and this is something that if you have the experience, is evidence of God. furthermore they were messages aligned with the word of God.

          February 23, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
        • Austin

          The problem is the answer imo shouldn't automatically be a supernatural one..

          it should though when you experience something that is without a doubt supernatural, and anyone with intelligence can understand that a revelation or a message that takes a sovereign "person" to translate something in the near, or distant future, it is PROOF, of God, just is the bible is proof of God, as it is His very Word through the direct revelation to the prophets.

          by the way, do you understand that "New covenant" means new. and that for non Jew, non Israel hebrew, this is the covenant that pertains to us Christians. and it is the Holy Spirit who changes from within, who bears the truth.

          And I have doc.umented my evidence and proof. I don't need ANYONE, to agree with me to know the truth, because I receive truth from God.

          no one knows the truth, outside of God.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
        • Austin

          if you are so smart eudaimonia2013, then why do you resort to slander of the new testament? cant you provide us the doctrine you attibute to the new testament and how that motivated violence?

          no , you cant'. that is a fact.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
        • Austin

          product of the narcissistic scientific laziness

          no, intellegence is not lazy. when God communicates through the word of God, or when God communicates to you if He ever does, you will know who is getting your attention.

          you don't want it to be true, and your explanation for your unbelief, which is a verb that you are responsible for healing on God's terms, your explanation is spiritually criminal and narcissistic.

          no amount of external proof saves a person. the issue is sin, and the remedy is the supernatural Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
        • Austin

          I put my bet = religious theory

          February 23, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
        • Austin

          mood= interpreted as "spirit" incorrect. emotions are of the fallen flesh.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
        • Austin

          not the central ent.ity of which the entire universe revolves

          people , and souls, are the kingdom who sing praises to God in heaven. You are the focal point of God's creation, but not the enti.ty that the universe revolves around.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
        • new-man

          "It may seem strange for a natural man to have a feminine soul (Greek – psuche) in his mind – but how else can he conceive thoughts. And besides, is it not true that Christian men desire to be part of the bride of Christ? The soul or the mind is espoused to Christ.

          The verses (1Pe 2:25; 3:1-6) clearly show that Jesus is the Bishop, Shepherd and Bridegroom of our souls. His spirit resides within our meek and quiet spirit as the "inner man". It is Jesus in this inner man that is the bridegroom of our souls. And it makes
          no difference whether in the natural we are male or female, we, as Christians, still have the Christ in the inner man of the heart. And as we accept the work of Jesus in our heart and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our minds, our spirit and soul are married together and we walk as one with our Savior for His purposes and according to His will.

          For the difficulties began in earnest in the garden when the feminine soul was separated out from the human spirit and was given a choice of who it would love.
          And why did God permit the soul to have a choice separate from the spirit? Think of all the suffering that would have been avoided if the soul had to automatically follow the spirit. The parents of teenagers have often thought that it would be much
          simpler if their children were programmed like robots and would obey their every order. But, in the final analysis, is this what the parents really want? Because, by taking the gift of choice away, the children would never reach the potential desired for them by the parents. And, so God took a risk, and the creature was subjected to vanity so that ultimately the creature might come into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

          February 23, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
        • Akira

          " emotions are of the fallen flesh. "

          You cannot, CANNOT possibly believe that; are you seriously saying Jesus was without emotion?

          February 23, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
    • Austin

      and is against dismissing the "spirit & soul"

      that is absolutely wicked.

      February 23, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      "As a Christian and SBNR"

      So being a Christian is "not religious"?

      February 23, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
      • Austin

        is the truth religious? or just true?

        February 23, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          The NR stands for not religious.
          Truth is truth – nothing to do with religion as all religions are founded on an untruth.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
        • Austin

          He is risen. to live is Christ.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
        • doobzz

          " to live is Christ."

          What utter crap. Absolutely meaningless nonsense.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
    • sdfrankie

      And the hoodoo. You left out the hoodoo. Spirit, soul and hoodoo. It does all the stuff the spirit and soul can't handle: overdue library book fees, parallel parking, that sort of thing.

      February 24, 2014 at 12:09 am |
  14. henryrhodes

    As I was sayingt, I have been reading all the comments on the SBNR article and I am very impressed. Apparently there are a lot of very distracted people out there. It's quite a tribute to the power of human deception and denial..

    February 23, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
  15. Dalahäst

    I'm so spiritually fit and down-right humble that some atheists are jealous of me. But that just forces me to become more spiritual and more humble. And I keep growing into this worldly guru that floats above everyone is silent judgement, just knowing that my spirituality is better than theirs. I bet if I played with venomous snakes, their bites wouldn't even kill me. I'm that f-ing spiritual right now. Yes, I'm actually floating right now.

    February 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
    • deepgal

      I was ready to puke for 3 seconds. Well done!!

      February 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
    • doobzz

      This can't be the real Dala. There's no quotes or video of someone else's beliefs.

      February 23, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
    • new-man

      Atheism is intellectual vandalism – Reinhard Bonnke.

      Why would you steal another's handle to post your hate... we're used to your hate-filled, blasphemous diatribe, so man up and stand behind your crude and crass vitriol.

      February 23, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
      • doobzz

        How do you know this person is an atheist? Christians steal names here too. Maybe it's a Christian who doesn't care for Dala's pompous, arrogant nonsense either.

        February 23, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        "Atheism is intellectual vandalism"
        I know you didn't originate it but as you quoted it you must agree with it. How do you justify it? You're equating intellect with religion; atheism does not vandalize the former.

        February 23, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
        • Austin

          id have to say that religion is an intellect vandalizing force.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • new-man

          well thanks for confirming that atheism is indeed a religion.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
        • tomskorupski

          @new-man No one said Atheism is a religion other than you.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I posted it as a joke. The old axiom... if you say you are humble, you really aren't.

      February 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
  16. RichardSRussell

    Secularism just means that government doesn't meddle with religion and religion doesn't meddle with government.
    Why would anyone have a problem with that?

    February 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      People who equate "secular" with "atheist", i.e. people who don't know the definition of "secular".

      February 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
    • optikradio

      The exact same thought crossed my mind. I think the author is confusing Secularism with some other term, though I can't decipher which they mean.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
  17. Dalahäst

    "Dr. Martin Luther King taught us that the power of humanity lies not only in its scientific capabilities, but in its moral sensibilities:"

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/16/martin-luther-king-science_n_1208349.html

    This is a good article written about MLK and science.

    ""So men conveniently twisted the insights of religion, science, and philosophy to give sanction to the doctrine of white supremacy...they will even argue that God was the first segregationist. 'Red birds and blue birds don't fly together,' they contend...they turn to some pseudo-scientific writing and argue that the Ne.gro's brain is smaller than the white man's brain. They do not know, or they refuse to know, that the idea of an inferior or superior race has been refuted by the best evidence of the science of anthropology. Great anthropologists, like Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Melville J. Herskovits agree that although there may be inferior and superior individuals within all races, there is no superior or inferior race. And segregationists refuse to acknowledge that there are four types of blood, and these four types are found within every racial group."

    We need something to keep religion, philosophy and science in check.

    February 23, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
    • bostontola

      Dalahast,
      We need nothing to keep science in check, we need something to keep certain people from using the power of science in destructive ways. This will always be true. Ethical debates asking the Frankenstein's Monster questions will increase in value as genetic manipulation and bio-technology integration grow.

      Religion and philosophy are pure opinion, people misusing them are checked by our Consti.tution.

      February 23, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        If you have enough money or influence you can beat the system. Even the Const.itution.

        "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

        February 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • bostontola

          Religions are much more corrupt than the SCOTUS. I couldn't trust any religion to check anything.

          February 23, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          True. Theocracies are frightening.

          February 23, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
      • derado8

        Ethics can keep science in check. Ethics are not religion but ethics can be relative.

        February 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      First that was "twisted" religion, science, and philosophy and two, what keeps them in check is human beings like MLK, and their ability to reason.

      February 23, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
  18. bostontola

    A couple of questions for SBNR folks;

    Do you really protest scientism?
    Do you really protest secularism?

    I certainly don't think science provides all answers, many answers to questions are choices. But in places that do allow scientific exploration, I accept the results.
    I don't think the author understands secularism.

    February 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
    • derado8

      No I do not protest scientism at all. As a matter of fact I've often used scientism to clear up my thoughts on assorted religious topics. The best way I can explain myself being "spiritual" is this.
      If I were to day dream or write a poem I might think in terms of my "soul".
      If I were writing a paper for a medical journal, I wouldn't bring up the idea of a soul.

      In Greek "psyche" was used to mean mind/soul so it's interchangeable. Sometimes the word "soul" can mean emotions or mental states.

      A spirit (an invisible me) so far as science can tell doesn't exist, though it may still exist for me in the form of a wish.

      February 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
    • mizesa

      Most SBNR types are not "protesting." Why should they be?

      Although they may see all the "isms" you mentioned as meaningless to their own lives and those of their loved ones; or even as something they have grown out of.

      Many have found a personal truth that is more experiential in nature and right brained as opposed to left brained. Many have experienced things and events which are not easily quantifiable, but have left them open instead of closed. A life affirming something / everything which no argument can reach. Yet – which gives their lives meaning and purpose. Their own personal miracle perhaps – a revelation – which they know – and which language and logic can never reach.

      February 23, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
      • derado8

        That was very well stated.

        February 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      There is a politically-correct and anti-spirit secularism movement that I dislike.

      A devastating storm damaged a nearby town. My work put up a Facebook cover saying "Our prayers and thoughts are with their community".

      A few people from the public complained that we used the word "prayers". And we are a private company.

      February 23, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Oh, and just to be fair.... at Christmas time we put a "Happy Holidays" up on Facebook and people complained that we didn't say "Merry Christmas." I disliked that, too.

        February 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
        • derado8

          I would think that we'd all do better to let go of some of the minutiae.

          February 23, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
      • the0g0to0the0t

        I think they are anti-prayer language because they are favoring the spiritual over the religious.

        February 23, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
        • tomskorupski

          Prayer. Making yourself feel like you are doing something. Prayer. Asking the creator of the universe for a favour as if he didn't know already what you or someone else needs.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
  19. bostontola

    I wonder if SBNR people feel more in tune with the atheists or the religious. They share characteristics with both; no structure as atheists, acceptance of supernatural as the religious. I'd be interested in SBNR folks commenting on if they lean either way.

    February 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
  20. bostontola

    Science makes absolutely no attempts to undermine, discredit, or prove false, much less attack any of the thousands of religions and Gods man has created. The trail of scientific research follows objective evidence. It doesn't care what people think, what a priori bias existed, it just tests predictions and determines which are valid.

    Fundamentalist Christianity has declared war on science, calling it Satan's playground, fabricating hypotheses and fraudulently representing them as science, using school boards to select distorted text books for science classes, etc.

    SBNR community doesn't seem to have any conflict with science. They seem to accept what is found to be correct, even if surprising. That is a healthy approach.

    February 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      That's the job of atheist fundie. They think science disproves God. Atheist fundies are funny to laugh at😜

      February 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        The knowledge gained from science proves that all creation myths are incorrect thereby destroying the foundations of all religions. Those foundations are the only "evidence" of a god.

        February 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
      • evolveddna

        Thefinisher1.. Clearly you missed the point of what Bostonia was saying..if you even read the post.

        February 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
      • bostontola

        I have never heard any atheist, even the most militant, say that science proves there is no God. I searched the web and found none. Please provide a link to such an assertion.

        February 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
      • tomskorupski

        God is a failed hypothesis. Once the evidence is in i'll believe in your particular version of a particular God.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:25 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.