(Trust me, there will be a lot more.) I find it funny, in a kind of sad, disappointed way, how the new era of (neo-)atheists and atheism has come with a new form of polarisation, a good dose of double standards, and a sprinkle of ironic ignorance. First, by how it's used as a justification for treating people like shit and dismissing even the possibility of trying to understand or accept the worldview of someone who's not an atheist. Second, by stripping religion and spirituality down to a simple and irrational relationship to a God or a deity. By doing that the conversation itself is already off to a bad start because it's simply not the case for many spiritual and religious people.
Let's talk about symbology for a second. The meaning we put behind words; cultural and personal associations. To me, different words have a different meaning simply in the way they resonate with me, and during the last couple of years, I've mapped which words/symbols that make sense to me and which don't; what I add to them, what they add to my life, and how they may help me and my perception. My favourite example: To me, "chakra" means the most vital parts of my body – the brain, the voice and thyroid gland, the heart, the stomach, the uterus, the root of my spine/intestines. And I can use that grouping to get a better understanding of my body and mind. There's nothing magic about it, rather the quite opposite. If any of these parts of your body feel off, it will probably affect how you by some significance. And you'll try to fix it. For some people, this way of speaking doesn't make sense or feels natural, and that's okay. For some people it does. That doesn't inherently mean they dismiss science and facts.
I read my horoscope and have a tarot deck to shed light on parts of my life that maybe don't get any attention at that point. To stop and give room for awareness, in this otherwise ever-progressing capitalist world. What I read is not necessarily "true". That is not necessarily important. I've had altars and said prayers for the sake of meditation, gratitude and self-awareness. Pledged humbleness and loyalty to the Earth as a way of committing to something greater than myself. : All which are personal acts.
And I can write a whole paragraph about group-thinking, and how that's bad no matter if you're an atheist or spiritual. Same shit, different wrapping. Never buy in on a whole sub-culture. As always: do you.
My point is, parts of the new atheist movement have become a tad more militant than strictly necessary. Compassion and kindness are still important, even if you think you can assume a person's intentions and way of life. You are not inherently good or smart by being an atheist, you are not inherently bad or stupid by being religious or spiritual. And that to get to know what lies behind a person's religious practices or spirituality is highly personal and something everyone, in my opinion, should be more open to learning more about, especially when it comes to people close to us. Writing someone off because they identify as a [insert huge group of people here] or use a certain word we associate with a certain type of people is never a good idea. And you'll probably miss out on a lot of interesting perspectives, ideas and personal traits. You don't know what you don't know.
Stay curious, loves. We got this.