I went to the cobbler
To fix a hole in my shoe
He took one look at my face
And said, "I can fix that hole in you."
I beg your pardon
I'm not looking for a cure
Seen enough of my friends
In the depths of the godsick blues
Courtesy of Neuronarrative I saw the interesting post at Rationally Speaking about the elusive phenomenon of spirituality that is free of supernatural content. This is a question that has bedeviled me (so to speak) for some time.
I take the liberty here of quoting myself--a few years ago I wrote a paper on this topic in the context of the medical encounter. I am not savvy enough for a direct link to the pdf file, but you can easily go here and then scroll down to the third article which is mine (as articles go it is not long, but it is rather longer than a blog post--and fair warning, the style is, well, academic). I got a surprising amount of feedback to it at the time, both pro and con. So if your weekend is slow (I offer both commiseration and condolence) I hope you'll take a look.
For those without the luxury of time (or who, come to think of it, couldn't care less), I would only briefly say that I think a phenomenon of naturalistic spirituality does exist, but that the term "spirituality" itself is probably burdened with too many centuries of bogeymen to be useful; yet it is awfully hard to come up with a suitable alternative. Arguably a temperamental and individually variable capacity for religiosity does prevail, whether it is given metaphysical content or not.
Reflective and philosophical seem a bit weak for what we have in mind. A commenter at Rationally Speaking offered transcendent, which is quite good. Another option that occurs to me is sacred. For I do think that secular folks do hold certain things sacred, whether they acknowledge it or not (those who hold nothing sacred we call psychopaths). Logic and science can help to delimit the realm of the sacred, but the latter itself beckons when the tools of logic and science have done all they can do.
So when one of the kids, having absorbed some of the endless squalor of popular culture, exclaims "Oh, God!" I always correct to "Oh, gosh," not because of literal belief, and not only because it reflects better manners, but also out of respect for a concept that, whatever its controversy, has been a vessel for the sacred over time. Similarly I wouldn't let them clamber over the pews in a church even if no one were there. But one can find the sacred lots of other places as well, in places some people find more congenial.
A few famous aphorisms by Wittgenstein help me here:
"What has to be accepted, the given, is--so one could say--forms of life."
"The meaning of life, i.e. the meaning of the world, we can call God."
"If I have exhausted the justifications, I have reached bedrock and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: 'This is simply what I do.'"
I particularly like this latter one, as it illustrates my ambivalent attitude toward philosophy over the years. As I argued in a post on suicide a while back, logical justification goes only so far, beyond which lies the sacred, that is, what we choose to be, to embrace, and to revere (or that we find ourselves unable not to be or to revere). But be careful, theologians--don't try to sneak metaphysics and justification back into the sacred circle where they have no power.