‘I’m spiritual, not religious’ is something people say to make themselves sound interesting. It doesn’t work. What is intriguing, though, is that, according to this new survey, those who see themselves as spiritual but don’t follow conventional religion are far more likely to be mentally ill.
Now, before you trolly atheists out there in webland start typing ‘What a lot of crap. … anyone who believes in God is nuts. LMFAO!!’, read me out. Yes, we might have a case of chicken-and-egg here — the chicken being mental illness and the egg being the thirst for existential understanding. Or vice-versa. But the survey might also go to prove the value of that least trendy thing: organised religion. It is a very strenuous thing for the psyche to accept the idea of transcendental power (or whatever you want to call it) without some structure and external guidance. In grappling the eternal questions with little religious routine, the spirtual-but-not-religious are putting too much strain on their subconscious. Organised religion, for all its flaws, does offer support to believers, even if it is all feel-goodery and fairytales.
Richard Dawkins, bless him, said before Christmas that raising children as Roman Catholics is worse than child abuse. It may be that telling children to explore the spiritual realm without guidance is a greater cruelty still.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.