I have to admit I was a little nervous just before my son was born (on June 13th). I had been told by theists that they can actually see god in the eyes of a child, or that the experience itself would make a believer out of me. But I am open minded, an agnostic atheist. So I did not discount them immediately for implying that I might have to change my mind about the existence of god at this event and went into this knowing there was a possibility that they might be right.
The event occurred at 8:40 am... that is when I first heard his cry. I indeed had a profound experience, a life-altering and mind-blowing experience. But did I see god? Well, no, actually.
It comes down to a simple problem theists have. They attribute profundity with god. If it blows their mind, it must be of god. It is an extension of the argument from incredulity, a logical fallacy that presuppositionalists often make. Of course, all theists are presuppositional regarding experiences. That is, they have expectations and standards unsupported by evidence by which they measure any experiences they have.
I indeed got choked up by the emotions of the experience. It was a beautiful thing... a glorious moment in my life. I looked into the eyes of my child and was overwhelmed by a new understanding of love. All of my fears over being able to make things work with this child added to my life (as I am not well off financially) melted away with an absolute assurance that I would try my best to make it all work. My own desires, my own priorities became insignificant in an instant. This shift of priorities, a realization of a new paradigm for my life, was profound, but again, I did not see a god revealed therein.
The birth of my child was itself also not a miracle. Theists like to throw that word around. If you are in a tornado, and have your entire house destroyed, and your legs broken, and end up in intensive care, they call it a miracle when you eventually walk out of the hospital. When one prays for something and it happens to come true (as odds are, at some point, someone that prays for something will get what they want), they call it a miracle. And when a child is born, it is also somehow a miracle.
My brother recently found out his wife is pregnant, a happy coincidence considering my son was just born about the same time. He mentioned it on facebook and some theist replied back at how this child came from god this was and how blessed he is. My brother, also an atheist, came back with a rather smart-ass reply that this child came from his balls. All joking aside, he has also experienced the profundity of the situation, especially when he first heard his child's heartbeat. But again, he did not read into it that a god was involved.
Theists often think of atheists as cold, as people shut off from the beauty of life. They seem to think that if you do not ascribe god to profound experiences, you simply do not see the profound nature of those experiences and are therefor unfeeling. To the contrary, I can assure you, atheists such as my brother and I, do indeed feel the gravity of such events, perceive the profound nature of those events, but simply do not see any reason to attach god to the events in any way.
I know for a fact where my son came from. After myriad (enjoyable) attempts, I finally got my wife pregnant. Under the skillful guidance and watch of a clinic specializing in at-risk pregnancies, we gave birth to a child without any issues. Under the skillful hand of a top-quality surgeon, my wife had a Cesarean (due to the imperfect 'design' of the human body that sometimes results in a child with shoulders too wide to pass the pelvis). Again, I see no divine creator, no intelligent design, or any evidence of a god in any of this. I see advanced science enabling us to have a child. The child is a "gift" from my wife, due to the systematic application of reason, through the exercise of many different fields of applied sciences.
My son is now a week old, and doing great. He eats and craps a LOT. He is very strong, kicking and wailing his arms about when he is hungry. He is very calm and cute when he is content. I like to hold him and just stare into his eyes, not because I am looking for god, but because he is himself beautiful and the closest thing to an actual “spiritual” experience that an atheist can have. I gladly engage in this experience every chance I get.
I recognize that this experience is itself a result of evolution. Natural selection made this experience survive. For sentient creatures, having a profound connection to your offspring is advantageous to the survival of that offspring and thus also the species in general. If humans had evolved to be disconnected or unconcerned with our offspring, we would have a hard time surviving.
I can indeed have an expierience analogous to a spiritual one. But that is the real issue. The word “spiritual” gets thrown around too much. It lacks any real meaning for atheists that simply reject belief in the spirit and supernatural. As a former theist, I get it, though. But for me it is synonymous with profound. Actually, for everybody it is indeed synonymous with profound; some people just mistake profoundity for a divine experience because they lack any way to explain it otherwise. It is the same reason theists look at a photo of a nebula taken by the Hubble have to comment that only a god could have made such a beautiful thing. It is an argument from incredulity plain and simple.