Skeptical Spirituality

An experiment in exploring spirituality without reference to supernatural beliefs. Provisionally let’s consider spirituality to be a vague, catch-all term referring to practices, wisdom, beliefs, rituals, communities, dedicated to furthering our most cherished values–whatever those may be. We can debate endlessly over the merits of various traditions, values, beliefs, or the ridiculousness of other people’s religions or beliefs, but that’s not the point here. The point is to explore, with healthy skepticism on the one hand and sincere engagement on the other, who we are, what we value most deeply, and ways to live that further our values. We are surrounded by endless entertainments; we are beset by patterns of behavior we wish we didn’t have; we are driven by desires that often run counter to our deeper values.

Can we join with others, who may or may not share our values or beliefs, in exploring this “spiritual” realm. We may not share the same values, but we all have some heartfelt aspirations, some sense of a better self who emerges sometimes but not always.

For dedicated skeptics it may be particularly difficult to pursue something that could be called “spiritual growth”. The very word may make us recoil. The spiritual has been defined by people who believe things we cannot bring ourselves to believe. Let us define it for ourselves, knowing from the start that we may start and end up with very different ideas from those of others we explore with and learn from.

On June 25, 2014, twenty people met at the Washington Ethical Society responding to the following notice:

Skeptical Spirituality.

If you seek a greater sense of fulfillment, to bring your actions more in line with your values, to be more connected with others, or to address any of the big questions that religions offer answers to–but you have trouble believing what religions ask you to believe–we invite you to join us in a facilitated discussion of skeptical spirituality. We will explore the ways skeptics can evaluate and engage with spiritual practices and communities. We will speak from our own experience, but without pushing any particular approaches. This is a free event led by writer Sigfried Gold and Washington Ethical Society Senior Leader Amanda Poppei.

The initial purpose of this site is to serve as a platform for group discussion and planning, to invite others to join us, and to let people know what we’re doing.

An experiment in exploring spirituality