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. bostontola

    Atheism is the best religion ever, why?

    It is one of the only religions consistent with science, logic, nature, human nature, environment, and all other life.
    No services.
    No rituals.
    No scripture.
    No proselytizing.
    No lobbyists.
    No priests and infrastructure to pay for.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:50 am |
    • igaftr

      It is also not a religion.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:53 am |
      • bostontola

        Religion is just a word, who cares. Plus, it would stop some from asking why are atheists commenting on the religion/belief blog.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:58 am |
        • alonsoquixote

          “Words... They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good any more..."

          ~ Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing: A Play

          Or as George Orwell put it in 1984: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

          By redefining the word, as some believers do, so that even a lack of belief in any god is encompassed by the word, you allow believers who recognize that they can offer no rational basis for their beliefs to suggest that your lack of belief in any god is just as irrational as their beliefs. You cede a tremendous amount of ground to them in hopes they will stop asking why you are commenting on a belief blog, yet you won't even get that.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:40 am |
        • bostontola

          Pluto was a planet, now it's not. Words regarding classification often evolve.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:42 am |
        • alonsoquixote

          Certainly, language evolves and the meaning of words can change over time. E.g., "nice" meant silly or foolish in the 13th century. "Nimrod" was a mighty hunter in the Bible, but when Bugs Bunny used the term facetiously to describe Elmer Fudd, many people, not recognizing the allusion, came to view "Nimrod" as equivalent to "dimwit". "Awful" in the past was used to describe something that inspired awe; now it is used almost exclusively to mean something extremely bad or unpleasant.

          Words provide our primary means of communicating and exchanging ideas with one another. If you are debating ideas with someone else and you allow the other person to arbitrarily redefine words to mean whatever he feels suits his purposes, then you've given him the opportunity to use almost any type of sophistry he wishes to use. As the philosopher John Stuart Mills put it:

          "Since reasoning, or inference, the principal subject of logic, is an operation which usually takes place by means of words, and in complicated cases can take place in no other way: those who have not a thorough insight into both the signification and purpose of words, will be under chances, amounting almost to certainty, of reasoning or inferring incorrectly."

          He also wrote regarding logic that:

          "I am persuaded that nothing, in modern education, tends so much, when properly used, to form exact thinkers, who attach a precise meaning to words and propositions, and are not imposed on by va_gue, loose, or ambiguous terms."

          Conceding to believers that they can redefine the term "religion" to encompass "atheism", or whatever other ideas they wish to encompass within the word, if that suits their purposes in trying to put anyone who doesn't believe in their god or any god into the same category as themselves, grants to them the opportunity to dismiss anyone who doesn't believe in their god as holding a religious belief no more valid then their own and to classify you as just another follower of a "false religion" unlike their own, which is the "true" religion. And it gives them leeway to redefine any other words they wish to redefine if the commonly accepted definition doesn't suit their purposes.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm |
    • Keith

      The only problem I have with many atheist is that there is no place in their world view for the mysteries of life. Psychologists have been trying to solve the human mystery for a long time, everything is not simply explained like love, hate, devotion, etc.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:21 am |
      • bostontola

        I think that is a long running misunderstanding. Every atheist I know acknowledges mysteries and embraces them. The difference is, religions live on mysteries to survive, atheism and science explores them. I enjoy speculating about mysteries, religions assert dogma as fact regarding mysteries. So atheists and religious recognize mysteries, atheists speculate and explore, religious plant a flag of dogma. Do you disagree?

        February 23, 2014 at 10:30 am |
        • eudaimonia2013

          Well stated.. I wish we could "like" a post instead of writing..

          February 23, 2014 at 10:39 am |
        • Keith

          My view of what most atheists believe comes from this blog. It seems to me that you do allow those things in your world view. It seems that many of your fellow atheists do not.

          I do not practice any religion at all and it took years for me to heal from being raised by Fundamentalist Christians. During that time as a part of my journey I studied comparative religion and it seems to me that in many religions that dogma is not a deterrent to questioning, or exploring.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:45 am |
        • bostontola

          Dogma is not questioned by those who believe it. Many religious explore mysteries that don't apparently conflict with dogma. Most of our most productive scientists in history were religious. But there is definitely forbidden landscape claimed by dogma.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:50 am |
        • raforrester

          Boston, "But there is definitely forbidden landscape claimed by dogma."

          As you can see here in these comments, there is also a forbidden landscape claimed by atheists. In their world, logic says something is not possible, so they spend their time shouting at those who say it is indeed possible.

          I live in both the scientific and spiritual worlds. I investigate my spiritual beliefs, and have found some to be invalid and some to be proven. I do not limit my scientific mind to what atheists believe is possible. It has made my life much much better.

          February 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
      • the0g0to0the0t

        "The only problem I have with many atheist is that there is no place in their world view for the mysteries of life."
        I would say that is only true of those (on both sides) that cannot tolerate uncertainty.

        "Psychologists have been trying to solve the human mystery for a long time, everything is not simply explained like love, hate, devotion, etc."

        Psychologists work from the top down, neuroscientists from the bottom up. I'm not saying we know everything but we certainly do know quite a bit about both. Is there something specific you were thinking of?

        February 23, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
        • Keith

          No, I was not inquiring about anything I was commenting about how some Atheists do not have any place in their belief system for mysteries.

          I have an understanding that works for me that I worked out long ago and add to that as new information becomes available.

          "I would say that is only true of those (on both sides) that cannot tolerate uncertainty."

          I am sure your statement is true but I guess what I found interesting was that for some atheist they are just as dogmatic as the religious folks.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:04 am |
    • Dalahäst

      No community
      No traditions.
      No values.
      No checks and balances.
      No direction.
      No accountability.

      February 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
  2. repeaterchick

    "Spiritual" is just a new jazzed up name for "new age-lite". Basically you people just got a new-age church sermon without realizing it. Note that you're supposed to associate spirituality with yoga moves. The rulers want people to associate spirituality with yoga, Buddhism, 'the heart center', the divine feminine, and beliefs in karma. This ensures that you won't use your head-center and your GUTS to do anything about injustice. You'll learn to be a passive pushover. You will also subconsciously associate masculinity with sin. If you ever want to get deeper into spirituality, you'll start reading articles about 'oneness', 'ascension', universal love, etc.etc.etc., and you'll think that you came up with this idea yourself LOLOL Basically, it's the Age-of-Aquarius religion for peasants. The ruling class specifically does NOT follow these practices.

    The other religion the elite want their divided-people to have is atheism. This religion says we're all monkeys that merely evolved the ability to talk. The assumption is that monkeys need an extensive big-government to control them so they don't exploit the earth. This religion while acknowledging scientific principles is devoid of spiritual knowledge completely.

    All I have to say is really read the people who are supposedly these cult leaders. If you read into their history, you will find that their upbringing was COMPLETELY different than your own, and they do not believe the bull they spout.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:48 am |
  3. magicpanties

    "...There’s no getting around this fact: It is hard work to nurture the life of faith..."

    Yes, the author is truly working hard to ensure that religious delusions prevail in America.

    Discarding rigid and intolerant organized religion is step 1.
    She seems to have found some people there with new-agey interests.
    New age spirituality is much closer to buddhism than to the author's cherished christianity.

    Realizing that religion is wholly based on ancient fairy tales is step 2.
    Fortunately, this group is growing fast (but not mentioned in this article).

    February 23, 2014 at 9:46 am |
    • SeaVik

      Funny, the same sentence jumped out to me. Of course it's hard work to convince yourself to believe in things that contradict what we know to be true! It's hard work breathing when your head is buried in the sand.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:52 am |
  4. delek616

    When The Buddha was asked if he was a God, he simply replied that he wasn't, and that the question of the existence of God was an existential one that could not be answered then. The same holds true today. Buddhism is not necessarily a religion, but rather a way of living one's life recognizing that all sentient beings suffer, and that all sentient beings want to be happy. That we should harm none. I, nor any other Buddhist try to "convert" any one to Buddhism. As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has said, no matter what religious faith you belong to, be faithful to it, all faiths subscribe to non-violence.
    The concept that one faith, or one God is the only God, is ignorance on a scale therefore ever seen.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:39 am |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      Well said delek, couldn't agree more. Namaste

      February 23, 2014 at 11:05 am |
  5. calebboone

    Dear Dr. Mercadante:

    I have read your article several times, carefully.

    I don't think it means anything.

    In other words, I think you have written nothing.

    You have written that some people don't like to go to church but some people do.

    That is about it.

    Other than your comments about what amounts to yoga and health foods rather than doctors.

    So, some people prefer yoga and health foods to doctors. I'll add that.

    Now, I have fully encompassed your discourse.

    Well, we all already knew that some people like church and some people don't.

    Also, we all already knew that some people like doctors and some people prefer homeopathic remedies.

    What really bothers me about your article is that it could just as easily have been written about chiropractic, or music, or architecture, or Duncan Hines' recipes.

    Yes, some like chocolate cake and some like tapioca pudding.

    But as a Minister of the Gospel in a Methodist Seminary aren't you supposed to be more specific about Jesus?

    I think so.

    Have a Dovely.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:31 am |
    • bostontola

      Imagine how boring her book must be if an Op Ed with the greatest hits is this vacuous. This was supposed to be an advertisement for her book, I don't think there will be any sales bump.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:42 am |
      • calebboone

        Dear Bostonola:

        I didn't realize this was a teaser for a book.

        I was raised in the United Methodist Church.

        There is not much difference between Baha'i' and Buddhism and United Methodism.

        If someone is a Methodist Clergyman, and if he or she is employed as a Professor of Religion by a Methodist Seminary, then one would expect that person to write about Jesus.

        Then, others, whether Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim, would at least be able to understand what is written.

        They might not agree with it, but they would understand it.

        She writes so generally and so assiduously avoids mentioning Jesus that one wonders whether she likes what she is doing.

        That would cause anyone to question her sincerity.

        She has written nothing and accomplished nothing.

        Perhaps I was right.

        Perhaps she should become a Chiropractor.

        Have a Dovely.

        Sincerely yours,
        Caleb Boone.

        February 23, 2014 at 10:03 am |
    • nathansanford

      The author also doesn't seem to know what the word "secularism" means.

      This is one of the worst articles I've ever had the displeasure of reading.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:49 am |
  6. somersetcace1

    Personally, I don't care what people believe. Believe whatever you believe. If you want to be respected for your beliefs though, then at least understand what you believe, why you believe it, have the integrity to follow your own beliefs and be willing to challenge them. Beyond that, as long as you aren't at my door or the door of my congressmen, trying to press your beliefs on me, I really couldn't care less. Whatever makes you happy. Whatever gets you out of bed in the morning. It's your life and only you can decide what's best for it.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:29 am |
    • vistasforever

      Great post!

      February 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
  7. jboat500

    The author states "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."

    Of course it's hard. It's hard to nurture fairy tales. There is no Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy..........or God.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:20 am |
    • seedenbetter

      "It is essential to have others along with us on the journey." really means she must surround herself with other delusional gullible people, who drinks the same kool-aide, to help her maintain her delusions when her rational side rears its ugly head and creates doubt.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:31 am |
  8. salathieljones

    Reblogged this on The World Outside of Yourself.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:07 am |
  9. bostontola

    So why, then, is it “good news” that there is a huge rise in the “spiritual but not religious”?

    People are starting to think for themselves. That scares this author, and religious people like her, to death. People thinking for themselves is the antidote to the religion spell, and theologians know that will eliminate their power rendering them useless.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:06 am |
    • Keith

      That is a great way to explain it, thanks

      February 23, 2014 at 10:25 am |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      And cue to obligatory "it's a relationship not a religion" response in 3...2...1...

      February 23, 2014 at 11:08 am |
  10. danab1234

    It's great to see that people are finally catching on that the bible is a bunch of fictional stories.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:06 am |
  11. thoughtsjustsome

    The liberal media has been proclaiming the decline of American Christianity for over 50 years in spite of hard evidence that things have changed very little over the past five decades. Mainline denominations which have left Scripture as an authoritative foundation have declined. Baptists, Assemblies of God, Catholics, and Church of Christ have held their own and conservative non-denominational churches have exploded in attendance all across the nation. The "Church" was Jesus' idea. Gathered and organized for the purpose of effectively loving the world and bringing the positive changes making things on earth a bit more like Heaven and little less like Hell. No organization is perfect, but the positive impact of the local church is unmatched. See Rodney Stark's book "America's Blessing" if you care to read the actual facts and research on this topic. If you aren't a part of a local church and you claim Christ as important in your life, you need to follow his teaching and add your gifts and abilities to those of others who are trying to make a positive difference in this world and the next.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:01 am |
    • hsacartxe

      I don't believe Pew research nor Gallup would be considered 'liberal media'. Both show rise in the the 'Spritual, Non-Religious' category.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:33 am |
      • thoughtsjustsome

        I think you should look deeper at the questions that those two polls just asked. Many who are "non-denominational" were given no where to identify there faith. Further, most every conservative Christian believes that he has a relationship with God and not a religion, so asking if someone is "not religious" will bring forth a positive response from many who claim Christianity. Who wants empty rights and rituals? A consistent 70% of Americans are connected to a local religious body. 40% are in church on any given weekend. Those numbers continue to be stable across the past 5 decades.

        February 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          There is a non-denominational Christian movement exploding in my city. The services are more modern, with contemporary music and a college-like classroom atmosphere in the teachings. There is one in my community where I have invited some of my non-religious friends and they were really impressed by how different it was from the traditional church setting. Less dogmatic and preachy, more spiritual and offering real help in our day-to-day lives.

          It would be tough to categorize belonging to such a movement on a Pew Research questionaire.

          February 23, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • Keith

      I don't believe you are right about the media or church membership.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:26 am |
    • maanirantel

      Actually, "church" was NOT Jesus' idea. Jesus came to teach Jews how to be "better" Jews. It was only when they rejected His message that He brought it to the Gentiles. But even then, He always expressed it as an "individual" thing.

      "Churches" developed mostly organically, as people who did believe in Jesus' teachings came together for study, worship, discussion, etc. The letters of Paul – which were the first NT writings – would generally "make the rounds" among these groups of believers, being read aloud to the group by whoever's home they were in (the genesis of "home churches").

      Thus, although the early "church" developed organically, it was Paul who was primarily responsible for the creation of "churches" (such as they were), not Jesus.

      February 24, 2014 at 2:43 am |
  12. danab1234

    It must be make-believe day again. Spiritual but not religious people are still brain-washed but at least they are not gullible enough to give their money to the child molesters at their church.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:00 am |
    • Keith

      It is obvious that you do not know what you are talking about since you are not spiritual.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:27 am |
  13. thefinisher1

    One day, atheism will be no more. Atheism will be put in the fiction section where it belongs😜

    February 23, 2014 at 8:55 am |
    • danab1234

      Keep wasting your time and money on that absurd, magical nonsense.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:25 am |
      • thefinisher1

        No money needed or time. Atheism is a ridiculous religion.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:26 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Atheism isn't a religion!! Gee, do you have a brain blockage that prevents you from comprehending things outside of your buy-bull?

          February 23, 2014 at 9:30 am |
        • seedenbetter

          Is that like not collecting stamps is a ridiculous hobby? I hope you're really just a troll.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:35 am |
        • alonsoquixote

          Atheism is a religion like "not stamp collecting" is a hobby. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in any gods. Mankind has invented thousands of god in an attempt to explain the world around him, imagining the world was created by a being much like himself only far more powerful. So ancient humans imagined Agwu Nsi, Ahura Mazda, Allah, Apollo, Brahman, Yahweh, Zeus, etc. Judging from other postings you've made, you appear to worship one of those many thousands of gods, Yahweh. If you are like most believers, the god your worship is the one of your parents or the culture into which you were born. Most believers assume that they were born into the one "true" religion with the one "true" god, though they've never even studied the beliefs of believers or other religions, relying, instead, only upon what their own clerics tell them of the gods of other religions.

          An atheist is simply someone who believes in one less god than you do.

          February 23, 2014 at 10:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Nonsense and you know it. People will always disbelieve in gods, there is not changing that and that is all the term Atheist means...nothing more. Time for you to leave the trailer park and get an education!

      February 23, 2014 at 9:29 am |
    • inariokaimi

      oh you mean like how the christian bible should be in the fiction section?

      February 23, 2014 at 9:33 am |
      • hotairace

        Right beside other books of fiction, yes.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:58 am |
      • maanirantel

        Actually, if we are going to be 100% honest, the Bible contains both fiction and non-fiction, so it does not really belong specifically in either section.

        February 24, 2014 at 2:46 am |
    • Alias

      just one more insecure christian who doesn't like to admit that most people think his religion is a myth.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:40 am |
    • igaftr

      one day Finisher will die or stop trolling or both.

      Atheism will always be.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:45 am |
    • tomskorupski

      Don't hold your breath. The only thing different between and Atheist and your is that an Atheist believes in 1 less god than you do. Have you looked at the trends? Atheisms is not on the decline.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:40 am |
  14. grandeclectus

    I hope this is true, but it seems the vocal groups are the hateful, bigoted types armed to the teeth in the name of the bible and America. They will even say the cathloc church is of satan. I'm around these people, living in a relatively small town. There's a Christian book store being installed in the strip mall where I shop. Every other radio station plays sermons and Christian rock. I like to think people are questioning all the hatred and hypocrisy, but sadly they are brainwashed and blind, screaming that everyone but their group is going to hell.

    February 23, 2014 at 8:41 am |
    • thoughtsjustsome

      There will always be pharisees and legalists, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. My guess is that there are kind and gracious followers of Christ in your community. Become their friends. Ignore the fools and pray for their spiritual growth.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:07 am |
      • igaftr

        SO how do you know which ones are the fools?
        The ones who think there can be such a thing as "spiritual growth" and waste their time "praying" or the ones who don't believe in that which there is no evidence whatsoever for?
        and don't bother quoting your self affirming bible that calls anyone who doesn't believe in it fools. That is just one of the examples of the "loving" nature of christians.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:39 am |
        • thoughtsjustsome

          I'm sorry you misunderstood my thoughts. I didn't call those who are seeking truth fools, but was referring to those who are judgmental in spirit.

          February 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
    • Alias

      that used to be normal.
      fortunately people are seeing it for what it is and those groups are shrinking.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:43 am |
    • Keith

      The south is full of those little towns. I hope you can find some like minded people to spend some time with.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:30 am |
  15. gent49

    Any time I've heard someone claim they were spiritual but not religious, it was a cop out for not going to church and they were neither spiritual or religious. In short, it was a lie.

    February 23, 2014 at 8:40 am |
    • seedenbetter

      Every time I've heard someone say that it's been a Christian who is really trying to separate himself from the more frothing at the mouth members of the cult.

      February 23, 2014 at 8:51 am |
    • Alias

      Many proplr are disgusted with the churches, but still looking for answers.
      I see nothing wrong with that and no reason to insult them.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:45 am |
    • Keith

      Wasting your time at church does seem a little strange to me. When I pack up my boat and go out to the lake god always shows up, no need for a church.

      February 23, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  16. Mark

    The terms "religious" and "spiritual" are vaague constructs and is confusing.

    I prefer to follow THE WAY!

    February 23, 2014 at 7:33 am |
    • Mark

      Jesus said(John 14:6)

      "I am the way, the truth and the life"

      February 23, 2014 at 7:36 am |
      • Mark

        And when you follow "THE WAY" it clears the path for truth.

        John 8:58-and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free

        Free indeed!

        February 23, 2014 at 7:40 am |
        • Mark

          John 8:32 was the verse quoted however, John 8:58 makes the understanding of this verse complete. Wow!

          February 23, 2014 at 7:46 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        We know that man said that, what we don't know is if jesus actually said that because there is not sufficient evidence that he even existed.

        February 23, 2014 at 8:00 am |
        • Reality

          Jesus indeed existed but John's gospel has been judged to be historically nil by many contemporary experts. Added details are available.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:14 am |
      • danab1234

        It's fun to quote fiction.

        February 23, 2014 at 9:03 am |
      • Woody

        Jesus said(John 14:6)

        "I am the way, the truth and the life"

        Bill Clinton said "I never inhaled". Fiction is fiction.

        February 23, 2014 at 11:05 am |
    • Alias

      Preach on Sith Master!
      If you are strong enough with the force you can even overcome death, but no jedi can teach you that.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:48 am |
  17. colin31714

    I like this bit:

    "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."

    In other words, "our belief system is immune to validation – just accept it without any reason to whatsoever." A satisfying approach for the weak, the stupid or the uneducated, but nobody with half a brain will accept the "it's beyond proof or validation, so just accept it exists" argument.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:51 am |
    • derado8

      If I tell you I am a brain in a jar somewhere, does that make me weak and uneducated? Can you prove that I am not?

      "No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head". ~Terry Josephson

      February 23, 2014 at 5:33 am |
      • derado8

        Let me correct myself a bit. I know you can't prove a negative. I was however trying to illustrate the point that belief is a psychological state that by nature isn't going to be evidenced.

        February 23, 2014 at 7:23 am |
        • bostontola

          Who says you can't prove a negative?

          February 23, 2014 at 9:01 am |
        • Alias

          The larger point here is that the information age is upon us.
          Young people have choices in religion, and they want some validity before they can accept one over all the others.
          The church needs to change or it will fade away.
          The last major transformation, IMHO, happened after jesus dies and they wanted to recruit outside the jewish faith. They wrote Acts to make the hard rules go away and made the whole religion easier to sell to others. Seriously, how easy is it to convince someone to abide by all the old testament rules when they were not raised with them?

          February 23, 2014 at 9:55 am |
    • mikedoyle7979

      I'm one of these spiritual folks. Having had a out of body experience and now being able to induce it through meditation, it is not a belief system for me. I know it's true not through faith, but having experienced first hand. Through meditation, I leave my body and can see it, move around it, see others sleeping and can see things I shouldn't be able too. Like the location of missing stuff on hidden parts of the roof which I can travel too or see things in remote locations through out of body travel. Or see and talk to dead people. None of the spiritual people I know or have communicated with or want others to believe in us. Simply find out for yourself through meditation techniques which lead to out of body experiences. I didn't believe in it and was totally against it… until I tried and it actually worked. The state you end up in is more real than life itself. Unlike dreams, my senses are enhanced and vivid. I would say, if you don't believe in this than dismiss it or give it a try. One just needs to practice meditation – you need not even believe in it for it to work.

      February 23, 2014 at 9:49 am |
  18. colin31714

    I don't know if the "spiritual but not religious" crowd annoy me more or less than your average Christian. They are a little better than Christians in that they have the brains to see through the obvious nonsense that underwrites most of Christianity. They are more annoying in that they tend to flakey and hard to pin down on anything. They describe what they believe fluidly so as to avoid taking a challengeable position on anything. The worst are those who throw out phrases from physics like "quantum mechanics" without having the slightest clue what they are talking about.

    Still, anything that makes the number of organized Christians decline is a very good thing.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:47 am |
    • derado8

      Meh. Well I'll own that., but only to the extent that I believe in the idea of human comparison.

      February 23, 2014 at 5:54 am |
  19. Alias

    Thye had me until, "Finally, SBNRs need to give up the easy ideology that says ..."

    I was much less annoyed by, "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."
    However, this is still wrong, and a stupid to say.

    February 22, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
    • ToddOldfield

      I agree with this. I personally live in a life where I am surrounded by hypocrites; people that profess to love God and want me to act a certain way and to be "religious". I hear that term and my stomach just turns upside down. I love God and talk to him all the time. I love my church, as well. But, my relationship with God is just that... it's MY relationship with God. I serve Him as best I can... and to be judged by others, that do nothing, but profess some strong bond with God, just drives me nuts.

      February 23, 2014 at 8:42 am |
  20. Reality


    Religions are being replaced with a few rules like "Do No Harm". Soon all houses of "worthless worship" will be converted to recreation facilities and parks.

    February 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
    • Alias

      Surely you don't think society could come closer to agreeing on a common philosophy than religion.
      That would be kind of like religion without gods or hate.

      February 22, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
      • hotairace

        Sounds good to me! There is not a single need for any god.

        February 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
      • derado8

        If everyone had the same philosophy there would be no more philosophical debates.

        February 23, 2014 at 5:46 am |
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About this blog

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.