I have to admit, those associated with my former faith were correct about one thing. Leaving religion leaves a unique restlessness and loneliness, or what I suppose is being spoken about with the "god shaped hole" paradigm.
I've grown up talking about god with, in my opinion, nearly unequaled passion. In my view, I was given a mind by god to seek out and understand reality, and all things, including philosophy, science, literature, history, and all branches thereof, done with excellence and seeking the truth, would lead any reasonable individual to god.
I've spoken about leaving christianity before, and I don't intend to do so at length again right now. Suffice it to say, my studies lead me to conclude that the existence of a god is improbable, and that the authority of the christian church was insufficient to justify faith in the christian god. With my decision and my persistent inability to keep my mouth shut about things of importance came many consequences. I believe I have lost a lot of respect in the eyes of some, and probably gained a lot in the eyes of others, among other things. As always, I am who I am, and I try to balance confidence with persistent introspection and self-criticism.
The biggest question I've come to, and possibly the biggest one I will for a long time to come, has been rather simple. Outside of the specific context of christianity, what does spirituality even mean? There are thousands of religions exploring one simple question: what more is there beyond what it is to be human?
We see a fraction of the spectrum of color, live for an infinitesimal period of time compared with the age of our universe, don't even possess all of the data regarding the way our brains work, and have theories regarding the universe that are constantly being revised with the discovery of new data. If there is other sentient life in the universe that is not on this planet, we have yet to discover it because we are stuck in one tiny corner of it. We are discovering mind blowing and revolutionary things every day about this universe that has existed for billions of years, a timespan that I can't even comprehend because of its' length and the tiny length of time I've lived.
I am put in awe just thinking of everything I've said. I feel spiritual wonder and awe about it, just as I do when I read some of the greatest minds our race has to offer in recent years. From Lewis to Nietzsche, Bell to Descartes, even just a cursory exploration of the casual to the complex of western philosophy is enough to leave one with more questions than answers, and amaze one about the differences people can hold while still perceiving that there is something more. That is to say nothing of the east, and of philosophy not influenced by christianity, platonism, the enlightenment, and so on.
There is much to explore without even leaving one's home, and yet every person is another world to explore, for they are full of ideas all their own, their own synthesis of experience, reason, knowledge, and emotion. The communication of all of this, much like how I'm writing now (and why I love it so much), creates ripples, dissonance, and some of the most interesting synthesis of ideology and collaborative thought at times. To think that one religion has a monopoly on what is true with regards to all of this seems, to me, to be fatally narrow, especially considering how little of a monopoly that the entire human race has on knowledge and truth.
It is possible that one day we will meet people that live on other worlds that have entirely different conceptions of religion, morality, science, and what it means to exist than we do. Our philosophy as a race could be rocked to the core because an entirely different kind of life exists, and we may even find it offensive until we escape our narrowness as a species. In the end, there is always more to explore and more to learn, no matter where you are or who you are.
I don't know if I've answered the question of what spirituality is, but at least to me, I think this all makes it very interesting to think about. I listen to music when I write, and if I stop to think, I realize I am just another type of artist. Writing is very much like music, with its' colors and moods and tones and counterpoints and melodies. Sometimes I write the equivalent of a symphony, whereas at other times I write metal or rock or ballads or pop or country or grindcore. I probably never write rap because I can't rhyme to save my life, but you get the idea.
If I really think about it, I think this is what I think of spirituality. I've been stuck in one genre for such a long time, that I don't even know how to appreciate another without understanding what it's all about, but I do know I enjoy the general exploration of it all. Maybe this music is what I long for, and to find out the music of others and see what kind of dissonance or harmony we can make. It's certainly interesting, to say the least.