Atheism and Spiritual Direction | What’s God Got To Do With It?

Let's talk about not-god: Can Atheism, Humanism, Agnosticism (all of the "isms"!) be served with the practice of spiritual direction?
Image of raised brightly painted hands with smiley faces on them text reads Atheism and Spiritual Direction Still Lake Listening

Let’s talk about not-god. If you are agnostic, atheist, or “irreligious”, this (surprisingly?) may be the place for you. The interior life that accompanies atheism, agnosticism, and humanism is simply Human. We might call that “spirituality” if we offer “spiritual” as the very heart of, the core of, the deepest part of any human’s experience of their own Self.

On losing our religion – Atheism and the stats

Canadians are losing their religion at an unprecedented rate, with more than a third of the country reporting no religious affiliation in the latest census, Statistics Canada revealed.

Nicole Thompson · The Canadian Press · Posted: Oct 27, 2022 2:10 PM MDT | Last Updated: October 27, 2022

The Pew Research Center earlier noted,

Our most recent survey in Canada, conducted in 2018, found that a slim majority of Canadian adults (55%) say they are Christian, including 29% who are Catholic and 18% who are Protestant. About three-in-ten Canadians say they are either atheist (8%), agnostic (5%) or “nothing in particular” (16%).

BY MICHAEL LIPKA, 5 facts about religion in Canada

Losing it? Maybe I never had it!

Agnosticism, atheism, humanism, or nothing in particular-ism — all belong in the practice of spiritual direction.

How?

The human experience is to wonder. To wander. To grapple with identity and belonging and Is There More? Wherever you find yourself in relation to belief/not-belief, there is a tangling with curiosity about where we come from, if there is any order or plan to it all — at all.

The definition of “spiritual” is as personal as the individual holding it. For you, it may be a profound experience of simply Being Human. Have you had experiences of Wonder in nature? Have you been moved to emotion in exploring literature, the sciences, the arts? Could that be “spiritual” experience? That is, a connecting to something at the very core — the essence — of your being.

And could that be invitation to explore spiritual direction? Even while the structures of Atheism continue to serve you well?

On a personal note, Michelle and Sandra each have their own tangled journey of Belief and Not Belief. We wrestle with our own theology — a lot. We find that this has resulted in a lot more letting go of systems of belief than aligning with them. For Sandra, this means deconstructing and reconstructing (deprogramming and discovery?). For Michelle this is more of a letting go of apologetics and honing in on the foundation of our being – Love. We offer this only so that you can get a sense of our own decades-long self-examination, learning, and application of what feels like a universal Unknowing.

What we know: we do not need to know much at all. It is not important for us to be “Right!” or clever or so-so-smart. From this spacious Wonderment we hold companioning space for all.

Community and connection

If you come from a background of clearly defined religious boundaries and beliefs, you are welcome here. You may continue to hold those beliefs — you are welcome here.

If you have no experience with organized religion, you are welcome here.

Deconstructing, dismantling, disrupted beliefs have so much space here, too.

Be met with curiosity, non-judgment, and deepening questions. Encounter Self; encounter God/Not god/Spirituality. Atheism, Humanism, Nothing-ism. You are welcome here.

Trusting the You that aligns with Atheism and other not-god ways of thinking

Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of belief (wow — can this ever shift and change over a lifetime, hey?), exploring the complexities of identity and essence is made easier in good company. Caring company. In the companionship of someone who trusts that you are not wrong, you are not flawed, and you do not need to become part of an exclusive club that believes a certain way.

Your atheism, agnosticism, or other “-ism” is not for a spiritual director to convert you away from. A spiritual director makes the exploration of Self-knowing a safer, gentler, more enriched experience — even in the most disrupted times of life. Open, curious, non-judgment. Could that be spirituality?

We’re an email (still.lake.listening@gmail.com) or a call (403.613.5241) away.