The Spiritual Atheist

Photo via National Image Museum

If God created existence, God must transcend existence itself.
Thus the greatest idolatry: to say that God “exists” in the same way other “things” exist.
God cannot exist, because God is not a “thing” as such. Saying “God exists” is verbalizing a cosmic oxymoron.
To say that God exists is to deny God.
Existence and non-existence are attributes of our reality. How can we apply these conceptual labels to an eternal reality beyond us? Or even say that such a reality even “exists” in the same sense that our reality exists?
So in this sense, one might consider themselves an atheist; unable to annunce the existence of a Thing that cannot even be a thing.
If God “exists,” it is a kind of existence that is unlike every notion and experience we have of existence itself. Therefore, we cannot use our concept of existence as a descriptor for the state of God.
That would be idolatry.
But we might be “spiritual atheists” for exactly the same reason, since we cannot claim to fully comprehend everything beyond our experience of reality.
In other words, nonexistent things might ultimately “exist” in a way beyond our comprehension (lest we merely worship our own sense perception as some absolute in the universe).
Who are we to say that conceptual existence as we know it is necessarily the end of the story?
Theism claims a certainty that is idolatrious.
Atheism refuses to admit the finitude of it’s own mind.
Agnosticism is too certain of it’s own ignorance.
“Spiritual atheism” is something of a conceptual hybrid, allowing one to be intellectually honest, embracing of the mysterious unknown, and engaged with the practices of tradition and spirituality in a community of faith.

2 thoughts on “The Spiritual Atheist

  1. “To say that God exists is to deny God.”
    I disagree.
    To say that God exists is to have faith.
    To adopt an exclusive and unalterable definition about who God is and how exactly God exists strikes me as quite arrogant. Still, despite my limited comprehension, I choose to proclaim God’s existence and to put my small faith in God’s goodness.
    Latin existō (“to stand forth, come forth, arise, be”)
    Exodus 3:14 (The Message)
    God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.'”
    “I Am that I Am” — “Of Him that Is” — “Self-Existent”
    Faith: “the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing that is not based on proof”

  2. I think I can say God exists without confining him/her/it/not-it to my limited perspective on existence.
    I can witness only so much, and even imagination and the horizons of mind in all its ‘elements’ (which are not elements at all but dynamics) cannot encompass this thing we call God.
    This is good. If I could fathom god and define god completely, I would not be human any more. I would have transcended and become god’s equal. It is my belief that this will never happen. It cannot, because to transcend human self to that extent would remake reality itself. I don’t want to get to that state. I couldn’t take the responsibility.
    But I am human. And I can conceive of something I call god, precisely because I am human and limited to this existence. God transcends my existence. I accept that. And calling this being or force God/Creator, etc. does not negate God: it merely underlines the limits of my own perspective, intelligence and enlightenment vis a vis existence itself. God is my existence, and far more.

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