When I told one friend about my agnosticism, he asked, "So...if you decide you don't think the church is true, or decide on atheism, would you still consider yourself a spiritual person?" I think I probably looked back at him rather blankly for a moment. I was a bit puzzled by the question after having explained my doubts. I replied, "I don't think so. I don't know what 'spiritual' looks like outside of a religious or theistic belief of duality of being." He seemed troubled. I asked what he meant by "spiritual". He said, "You know, believing in doing good and peace, love, that sort of thing." I was a bit surprised that he seemed to ascribe those things inextricably to "spirituality".
I explained that that's not 'spirituality' to me. To me, 'spirituality' is a very specific sort of belief that we exist as dual physical/spiritual beings or that we have eternal lives in another form that isn't physical. While I'm no longer convinced of that general idea about the way things are, I believe each of us must cope and live the best we know how with what we know now, in our short lifetimes, so I can hardly fault people or myself for wanting to fill in the gaps of our understanding with peace-offering, fear-quieting beliefs about eternal spirits which go on living after our physical bodies are laid to rest, and I acknowledge that may be the truth whether or not I believe it. The idea that we are immaterial or refined-matter 'spirits' living in inferior, physical vessels or that our consciousness continues to exist after our brain cells have stopped functioning...that, to me, is what 'spirituality' is, and it has little or nothing to do with right and wrong or with ethics. My overall outlook on what constitutes a good life and what it means to be a "good person" is mostly like it was when I was an active and faithful member of the church. And yes, I know where "good people" without covenants go, according to current LDS doctrinal understanding: call me terrestrial-bound.
I said, "Of course I believe in doing good, treating other people how you would hope to be treated, trying to leave people and the world better than you found them, striving for understanding, peace, and harmony. If that's your definition of 'spiritual', then I'm spiritual, but I think of 'spiritual' as something apart." Of course it stills matters, to me, how you treat others and how you express love and respect. Even if I can't deflect personal responsibility to or reference deity as the authoritative source of some list of rights and wrongs, there are actions which are productive or constructive and those which are destructive, and I feel more responsible than ever for my own actions, and I have values which I may or may not be able to defend by pointing to some holy writ but which I am nonetheless unwilling to compromise: values like honesty, kindness, integrity, respect, etc. I don't need to believe I'm a dual being, a spirit fighting the fallen nature of a carnal vessel, to believe in the value of striving for a better life for myself and generations to come. I don't need the promise of eternal rewards for my spirit self to want to do good now in the flesh. This all leads into my issues with the "eat, drink, and be merry" scripture, but that's another post.