As you, my loyal myrmidons, are well aware, I have written quite a few times about my, shall we say, antipathy regarding the word “spirituality”. I’ve done it often enough, and probably will again, that I even created a tag for posts which mention it, “spiritual-not-religious”.

So what do I see over at Pharyngula today?


We need a new word is that freethinkers can use instead of having to use the word “Spirituality” to describe this enhanced experience. Some of us cringe when having to use the word “spirituality”, when describing our feelings when describing our connection to nature.

Carl Sagan wrote, when speaking of the relationship between science and spirituality: “In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe. They very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos….Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”

Mr. Sagan may have prefered to use a different word, if it existed. The current use of the word Spirituality implies “Spirits”, a ghost, an unquantifiable being, supposedly present everywhere that affects human bodies yet, that has never been detected and is unfalsifable. It is an unscientific word and we need a new word to replace it.

Scientility? I ask you, is there any poetry in that? And am I the only one whose brain immediately made the phonetic link to “senility”? Of course, PZ gets more views in five minutes than I get in a month, so now everyone will think I stole the idea. I will be a prophet without honor. But you, you know the truth! (Plus, if there’s any money to be had in here somewhere, I’ll split it with you if you back me up on this.)

Adding, 5/12: Feel the groundswell:

As regular readers know, I’m not a big fan of the word “spiritual.” But Farcet uses the word differently from most. He doesn’t talk about the spiritual as somehow higher and truer than the material aspect of reality. The Spiritual Enemy goes to great lengths to remind readers to think of their body as “the body that one has rather than the body that one is.” So “spiritual” in his use of the word refers to a point of view that questions society’s usual approach to things and aims at a clearer understanding of true reality, which is neither purely material nor purely spiritual.

That’s why I prefer words like reflective, contemplative, and philosophical. And from my vantage point, talking about “having” a body seems to imply a separate, non-material owner. But whatever, minor differences can wait. Point is, the movement is growing!