I regard myself to be a student of the human spirit. Were I to tell that to a group of atheists, a large portion of them would take it to mean that I believe in ghosts. I have had that argument. It is stupid.

One of the biggest problems atheists and other seculars have that interferes with ease of communication and gaining understanding of each other, has to do with defining words, and the obstinate tendency to allow only one definition to apply however many, of good practice, can be found listed in an authoritative dictionary. Beyond that, a goodly number of potentially useful words are refused admission. “They are not,” writers such as myself get told, “a part of our vocabulary.”

Well, then, get educated. I am of the opinion words we do not “like” need to be redefined in whatever manner it takes to support what we do “like”. I arrived at that opinion after years of holding the opposite, and after taking notice of how much time I have wasted on what ends up distractive from what I *do* want to discuss with people.

In other words, it tends to appropriate control of a discussion toward arguing about the meaning and viability of words, a ridiculous aspect of atheism that shows up in many other topics. I have found that by offering a definite definition and insisting on it, those who insist on nonsecular definitions only realize they have no way to talk to me, since my refusal to understand their meaning –one that applies to something that does not exist– renders them voiceless. When something nonexistent has no label, and the appropriated label means something different that is real, their stories turn into gobbledy-poop. Unless I give in to their insistence upon bending my ears, and my thinking, to only their way– the discussion veers down a different road to derailment. In other words, the demand is to allow them to appropriate my mind. Atheists are the worst at refusing to see how such a reluctant attitude works against their own best interests. Talk with them about it, and you’ll soon get the feeling they actually desire the losing end of the shtick.

The word “spiritual” is a good example. Spirit, in a secular sense that offers no recognition to such things as ghosts or an afterlife, retains what is thought to be its original reference to the breath that signifies a person (or any mammal) is alive. When the breath has ceased, the spirit has “gone” (there is no sign of its presence).
In a modern secular setting, spirit refers to how one displays an attitude, or disposition (their habits or characteristic tendencies and moods). The poor habit of understanding words only by their nonsecular definitions inspires modern humans to see mental images of ghosts where gamboling sheep was the actual intention. Spirit, as a sign of life, can be read into many descriptive sentences without forcing it. “Spring into joy, and let that great spirit fill you with its pleasure.”

By ‘human spirit’, I refer to the attitude by which the process of being human gets approached, and the interactivity within that. ‘Spirituality’, concern with the things of the spirit, refers to “otherworldliness” in the nonsecular sense, and the pleasure of living in the secular vein. Does “otherworldliness” refer to Mars or Venus? No, those are real, secular entities we can observe. “Otherworldliness” refers to that which is intangible to the senses, a portion of artificial reality (see my book, Reality 101).

‘Soul’, a related word in the nonsecular world, refers only to autonomous animation of any physical body within the secular world (and so all animals possess “soul” if they have capability of motion and seem to display conscious awareness and ability to make decisions). The secular equivalent to an afterlife is represented by “oblivion” –there is no awareness, ability (or need) to make decisions, no life signs (spirit), no sense of a “self” (soul). It is the “place” or “state” from which we arrived here, the condition being one of nonexistence, to which we return. My story, The Mystic Wytch, referred to death as “the long road to oblivion.”

The most promising way to arrive at, and stay on track with, a secular worldview, is to realize at the outset that all of existence arises out of events that, seen in a chaotic continuum, combine into processes, from the tiniest and simplest, that become more complex events that, seen in a larger view that envelopes each increasingly complex level of chaotic continua, builds through successive layers of events forming processes until all of nature is so encompassed, the final result of all those layers of chaotic complexity being commonly named ‘Nature’.

An aside: I have no idea how many people in the world would agree with any of this, it is my own philosophy I have worked out to enable my own ability to cope with all the cultists that surround me, and to be able to understand them according to my terms (in other words, I got tired of all the furrowed expressions I had to make, and all the resultant headaches from that). I felt like I had to do something, and the common secular way to handle it seemed ineffective. To me, ineffective has been something I have tried most of my life, and it has resulted in the should-have-been-expected nothing.

So, the secular sense of spirituality, if understood from all of that, is a heightened awareness of self and the place of one’s self in this natural world. We were born with a genetic set of predispositions into a variety of environmental circumstances that determine pretty much how we should go about attaining that heightened awareness.

We don’t do it with mind-numbing procedures such as religion or drugs. We surely can’t achieve it by off-handed rejection of the terminology best suited to talking about it. We can only accomplish it by following our inclinations, gaining the required knowledge to support those inclinations, learning to be self reliant and self responsible, by learning to apply the scientific method to the information and opinions we acquire, and all that goes along with that. As a result, a highly spiritual person would be someone very aware of his/her place in the scheme of things; of his/her place in the social pool; of what goals he or she could most successfully and satisfactorily pursue; and especially someone who could inspire such a level of self-actualization in others. Atheists may not like that, but I have too-well noted a central lack of any kind of inspiration or an inspiring message emanating from among us. The nonsecular may offend themselves by deeming secularization of “their” terminology to be abusive. Maybe my gran’ma’s advice should be taken: “Eat your peas. You’ll learn to love them, and they’re good for your health.”