While less people are calling themselves religious, more and more are considering themselves spiritual. Infact “The number of people identifying as “spiritual, but not religious” has been growing perhaps for three decades.” (See here and here for sources).
So what is it to be a spiritual person? Well, we often contrast spiritual with what is physical and visible. Spirituality is often used of people who think and act as if there is more to life than meets the eye. There is more than there is on the surface. As Shakspear’s Hamlet remarked to a gobsmacked Horatio at the sight of a ghost:
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
More and more people are thinking like that. They are encountering and engaging with a real spiritual dynamics and saying “I think there is more“.
You might think that there is no room for the supernatural in our secular scientific culture but you would be wrong. The sun newspaper commission a poll to find out how spiritual we are:
- 44% of 18-24 year olds said they believed it is possible to contact or be contacted by the dead (most believed they had done so)
- 45% of women has personal experience in fortune-telling, astrology, tarot cards and psychics/palm reading (27% of men)
- over 40% of people under 65 believed in karma
- [over] 34% believed in ghosts (and restless spirits 37%) (30% of men and 38% of women, older people are less likely to believe in ghosts)
- 15% of the under-34s said they believed in magic (9% overall)
- 3% actually believe in vampires
- 68% believed in fate. (something outside of ourselves is moving things forward unalterably to certain predetermined events or happenings).
A hunger and belief and practical engagement with the supernatural is not old fashioned. It is very much in fashion.
A survey of the attitude and lifestyle of 8000 adults by researchers from Leeds University revealed a longing for spiritual understanding. It also found that belief in the paranormal had taken over from conventional religious beliefs. They found:
- 50% believed in telepathy
- 67% in astrology
‘People are still looking for explanations of things’, said Sheila Byfield of the agency Ogilvy and Mather, part-sponsor of the report.
“Once they used to explain things through God, but now they turn to other more quirky things.”
A poll commissioned by Lloyds TSB found that at least 20% of homebuyers would be effected by supernatural considerations in buying a house, probably effected by Television programmes such as Most Haunted.
Do you consider yourself spiritual?