“…if the Universe Is Beautiful, We’re Part of that Beauty.”—A “Neither Religious nor Spiritual” Biography as Horizontal Transcendence

  • Thomas J. Coleman IIIEmail author
  • Christopher F. Silver
  • Ralph W. HoodJr.


27-year-old Isabella grew up with her parents on the Eastern Coast of the United Sates. She describes her life as “pretty boring” and “normal.” However ‘boring’ and ‘normal’ her life may have appeared to her, it is the worldview that Isabella takes—and has always had by her count—that draws great interest. Typically, many individuals who currently identify as an ‘atheist ’ also used to identify as ‘religious’ in their youth (Silver, 2013). Isabella stands out in this regard, she has never believed in a god or gods. What Coleman, Silver, and Holcombe (2013) have termed as “religio-spiritual frameworks” played no part in Isabella’s worldview. As this chapter shall demonstrate, Isabella was able to ask questions about life, make sense of her environment, and find meaning and purpose not in the confines of a religious or spiritual worldview, but, in a worldview that retained a similar sense of awe, wonder and meaning in the absence of any spiritual or religious structure—a worldview we term as ‘horizontal transcendence .’ This chapter will situate the role of the Faith Development Interview in the context of the ‘faithless ’ while drawing attention to the role of narrative in horizontal transcendence .


Atheism Horizontal transcendence Nonbelief Absorption 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Coleman III
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher F. Silver
    • 1
  • Ralph W. HoodJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Tennessee at ChattanoogaChattanoogaUSA

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