Originally Posted by tagutcow
I've seen this point come up before on this forum- that people who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious" are waffling atheists- and I think it's a particularly strange misapprehension. Of course, there's a host of terms here that need to be untangled- atheism vs. agnosticism vs. religious nonaffiliation- not one of which is logically conditional on any other, and not one of which necessitates a metaphysically naturalist, non-spiritual worldview. That said, I think it is extremely rare
that an atheist and/or agnostic would describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious." Sam Harris is the only one I know who has made any noises in this direction, and that's only because he had an experience on ecstasy that he can't philosophically account for. In the West, at least, most "spiritual but not religious" people would simply be nondenominational monotheistic believers.
I wouldn't describe them as "waffling atheists," more as "waffling theists." Mostly people who have given up on whatever their particular religion was (Catholics for most of the people I know,), but haven't found anything to replace it with. In the absence of some formal structure, they just become "spiritual" or whatever term you want to use. They doubt God (making them nominally agnostic), but want to believe in something
, so they don't go full-atheist.
I'm not talking about people who have put great effort into formalizing their doctrine, I'm talking about people I know. It seems like a lot of people get stuck between a religion they abandoned and a new internally consistent philosophy. Seems to make them uncomfortable. Certainly I was uncomfortable for awhile until I dropped the last vestiges of religious thinking. Not saying the inevitable end point is atheism, just that it is an