Spiritual vs. Religious

Here is a very good cartoon by Atheist Experience contributor Tracie Harris:

Spiritual vs Religious

But I don’t accept the point of this. Yes, I find foo-foo spiritualists as annoying as the next guy. But I do understand the difference between “spiritual” and “religious.” And I dare say so does Tracie Harris.

What they mean is that they have airy ideas about other worldly phenomenon, but they don’t follow a religious dogma. And for that, I think we should encourage them. In fact, I think they are generally very open to hearing about new things. Generally, they are a hell of lot more interesting to talk to than are most religious people.

Of course, I would recommend that they read Robert Price’s excellent Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today’s Pop Mysticisms. But I’ve found such people to be interested in learning more. This doesn’t, however, mean that they are likely to ever give up their airy ideas.

I am perhaps particularly sympathetic to these people’s concern about the words “spiritual” and “religious.” Most people consider me an atheist, but I think of myself as a spiritual seeker. True: my spiritual quest is mostly centered on culture and community. But there are Very Big Ideas involved in this question, especially what Denys Turner calls the only real spiritual question, “Why does the universe exist?”

I’m all for slapping religious and spiritual people when they’re being evil. But when they are just being stupid, perhaps we should be a bit more understanding. And I mean that in every sense.


Tracie Harris is a very good cartoonist. Check out her other work!

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