Believers have a hard time understanding atheists’ conceptuality of ‘spirituality’… about which, whilst I’m sure it varies considerably from individual to individual, I think I can safely say that I speak for all atheists when I say that an atheist’s conception of ‘spirit’ and ‘spirituality’ is quite different from the religious ideas on the subject:
Most importantly, it doesn’t involve any kind of ‘ghostie-thing’ that survives us in this life; if anything survives of human beings at all after death, it is the ‘spirit’ of their work! Which in turn reflects the spirit of their lives… It is that spirit which is in us, which animates us and gives us life, while we are alive… that spirit which feels as much awe and reverence for the universe in which we find ourselves as believers do from any religious epiphany.
Take, for example, the spirit of Mark Twain (an atheist), without whose classic novel ‘Huckleberry Finn’ the abolitionist movement which gave rise to the Human Rights movement might never have got under way… Huckleberry Finn’s famous decision to ‘go to hell’ rather than betray his friend, the runaway slave, Jim, is one of the most poignant moments in all literature… and I’m sure had a great influence on the decision-making of the people of his own country, for whom it was first written! And it continues to exert that effect even today. I’d advise all believers (and all atheists too!) to revisit Twain’s novels. (Alright; I know, I’m gushing; but Mark Twain’s been a hero of mine since childhood).
Perhaps now you can see what I mean when I say that even atheists can, and many DO, have a very real form of spirituality, but it is not a spirituality which is in any way separate from the physical human being and his/her life and work… Until the person’s death, when it continues, if s/he is diligent and deserving, as a memory: The truly Great Spirits, like Twain, will be remembered forever. Jonathan Swift was another… Try reading his ‘A Modest Proposal’ if you haven’t time to re-read ‘Gulliver’s Travels’… which was far more than a fairy-tale for children!
The work of authors such as these (and I could name far too many to list here!) actually contribute to the spiritual development of future generations too… So it’s easy to see that atheistic spirituality is indeed a very real phenomenon; and it has a very real and positive influence on the history and culture of the world!
It would be nice if religious people could at least learn to recognize this, however, and not assume automatically that we’re all devil-worshippers or worse!
The fact is that atheist commit fewer crimes than believers… (I think the stats come from recent censuses in the USA) so at the very least let’s dispense with the religiously-generated prejudice that atheists must automatically be ‘evil’ or ‘evil-doers’; and let’s remember that prejudice is not only a great evil in and of itself, but that it is also the generator of much more, and greater evil…
Remember too, that religion is the source of all prejudice!