Kasper wrote:On a side note: I wonder whether the atheists on this forum would propose that there is no such thing as a spirit or soul, or for that matter a spiritual experience?
This is two separate questions. I see no reason to believe in the existence of souls as usually understood â€”Â a non-corporeal something that has memories, personality, etc., surviving the death of a person. There's not a single aspect of our personality that cannot be radically altered or erased by a konk on the head, a stroke or some other cranial mishap â€”Â memory, of course, but also compassion, language skills, conscientiousness, appreciation of music, liveliness. There's even a form of limbic system epilepsy that can, among other things, make its sufferers obsessed with religion (either pro or con).
I must confess that my brain often seizes up when confronted with the word "spiritual." It gets used in so many ways, some with meaning, some no more than a rhetorical flourish indicating the speaker's approval.
To me the existence of spiritual experiences would at least be indicative of the existence of 'something' beyond that which we can rationally proof, and something that could be associated with the existence of (a) 'divine' being(s).
So I can think of one thing that probably qualifies as an intentional spiritual exercise: mediation. If you grab a Buddhist monk and drop him in an fMRI
machine to watch his brain on deep meditation, it is clear that the brain is not in a normal wake or sleep state. Among other things, the frontal lobe's behavior is modified in interesting ways. It's not surprising that a non-waking/non-sleeping brain state should be interpreted as a different sort of experience. So, too, does a temporal seizure induce inexplicable experience
. I see no reason to posit work of the divine in this.