Ok, here it is. I haven't read everyone's posts so I'm not really responding to anything in particular. I'll add my own perspective on religion/spirituality to the mix. You can take it with a grain of salt (and please do). I don't really have anything to debate, but just sharing my own POV on life and spirituality in general.
hmm.. To me, no one can prove or disprove that God exists. I feel it's futile and unnecessary for the purpose of being human. No matter what label we call ourselves, we are all in the same boat. I'm very spiritual but I don't follow a religion. If I do 'go to church', it's a non-denominational Christian and it's usually for the purpose of connecting to God. Also has to the do with the fact that my family was raised Christian, so I am in keeping with my roots. I've had 'experiences' or whatever you would call it that I feel are enough for me, but that doesn't mean I can reasonably expect anyone else to end up exactly like me. If I feel something strongly, whatever... but that doesn't mean it's so real I must share it with everyone. Which is what a lot of religious and even spiritual people like to do. I don't think that's how it works. I think you can describe how you've come to feel the way you do and people can give it some thought, but to expect them to come to the exact same conclusions you do is not possible. Religion to me sometimes is like the McDonalds of spirituality... it decides all that hard stuff for you, there's less to question and you will have no problems agreeing with everyone around you if you follow the rules. It provides a tool for a socially spiritual environment, which is good! But it doesn't always provide enough on the personal level... other than to keep putting your energy into prayer and hope for the best. Religion can be empowering, but I've seen where it can be patronizing and draining.
I do feel that we are spiritual creatures... to the extent, we ALL care about our soul's well-being when it comes to our existence and identity as human beings here on Earth. Most of us have a conscience or some sort of complex that keeps us from becoming soul-less axe murderers. Whether you believe that has a divine link to the creator or is just hard-wired into our code, is what makes the difference. I believe in both, in that I believe that we evolved to connect to something that is forever present in the universe... some people view God as an old man using a lightning rod creating earth in 7 days. I believe the science and am heavy into Astronomy and like to focus from the intellect... I see it more that we are a very small piece of the picture trying to finitely understand that is so huge. It may not be able to be understood completely, but if he could, I would imagine that we do so more on an instinctual level and that we've evolved to adapt to it. Hence our desire and tendency towards spirituals belief more as creatures... but beyond that minor instinct, we fight our environment and struggle with our identity in every possible way trying to figure that one out.
I firmly believe if someone wants to go down a spiritual route, they will and can on their own. Sometimes our experiences make it easier, sometimes harder. I would even believe not everyone needs it. How someone else expresses spirituality is never going to be the same way as me, and that we all express and connect to God/creator/tree-monster God differently, especially with cultural differences thrown in the mix.. in order words, our core identity is involved there as well. You could worship DNA and call a creator the Master Gene for all I care. I would understand and see it as you trying to connect to something...and I respect that the difference is personal.
The people who are pushed into religion out of fear are the ones that I feel are missing out on an important part of being human and life. I would prefer to be a person with an open mind than a person who closes their mind out of negative experience or because they are trying so hard to be right. To me, it's a waste of time not to ponder. I think living spiritually is like living more with open eyes... you don't have to necessarily believe in something, but you keep your mind open and you tend to see life with more of a liberating perspective rather than a closed one... one that doesn't have to provide all the answers and that tells you you don't know everything. I cannot believe in something that suppresses doubt, criticism, and questions... all those are important parts of being human and I think are critical to being spiritual. It's perfectly normal to have questions and to doubt. So perhaps that's the biggest difference to this versus being 'religious'... but I know a lot of people who are religious who are definitely lean more towards the open minded side and are not all about the scripture. They may not be purists, but they use religion as a tool to reach God... so I can't believe every religious person out there is a whack job either because I've seen all sides.
Anyway..I don't think everyone has to be attached to a religion or whatever to be spiritual and not everyone who is human has to be spiritual. There is so much more to life than just what religion you follow. I think it adds to the whole perspective and experience... but it's absolutely not necessary to be any of those things in order to have a fulfilling life or be a good person.
BTW, I used to declare myself as an athiest in my younger years. It was a lot easier to avoid the rhetoric and labels... labels are something you want to avoid when you're trying to be open minded and figure this stuff out for yourself. I didn't want anyone elses opinions coloring what I felt was too personal for someone else to decide for me. Some people push stuff because they have to because they need to believe in it enough themselves. That's fine and dandy, but I can't see how you are getting anything but an ego boost or a chip in your shoulder out of it.
TLDR; Damn it, I need 50 posts! lol