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Old 11-04-2011, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Seattle bound
284 posts, read 421,753 times
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As for spirits, I'm with the OP, why does any diety have to be in charge of the spirit world? Something animates us nd sets us apart from water and rocks... why not spirit? And why shouldn't some spirits move on while others stay behind? No one knows for sure if we "exist" before life or after death. No one can no for sure. All we know is this life -- everything else is conjecture,

This is why i think that the possibility of ghosts exists. Because it can't be disproved. I know what I've seen. I know what other people have seen, and I know how popeople can be fooled into believing what they want to believe because they desperately need an explanation for something. But, I'll always be open to the possibility.
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:28 AM
 
Location: among the chaos
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I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to answer this question. I have enjoyed reading your answers. I must admit, I wasn't surprised when the bickering started and for the most part, I only half-skimmed those responses. But for the sake of reigning this thread back in, I will try to restate my question with some explanation as to what was going on in MY head at the time of the OP.

Do atheists believe in ghost/spirits?

I didn't look up the definition of ghost when I posted the question. My thoughts/views on ghosts/spirits are that they are an 'essence' of a person that has died. Are they in some realm between earth and heaven/hell? I don't know. I do know that I believe that it is possible for them to exist.

My husband and I are both Catholic Christians. We happened to be watching TV when some preview for a show about paranormal phenomenon came on. That then set in motion a discussion (if one could call it that) about whether or not atheists believed in such things (this was specifically a haunted sanatorium). My husband's thoughts were what many of you have relayed, "if they (atheists) don't believe in a God, then why would they believe in a spirit?". What I heard him saying was; no God, no spirit within the human body, no afterlife. I guess I have never given that too much thought. I know that I have had discussions (on this forum) with atheists who believe that there is no afterlife. After death we become worm food. Nothing more, nothing less. We're here, then we're not. Since I wasn't sure that was an exclusive atheist mindset, I decided to go to the source (YOU) and ask the question. So there you have it. Restated. Now quit arguing or June will close the thread and you will have to find something else to discuss.
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
9,616 posts, read 11,382,568 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auntieannie68 View Post
just call me a deluded doink cause i have been in the presence of God during a nde and in my actual life have seen 2 apparitions(or what some call ghosts)--none in a cemetary or in complete dark--that is for effect on tv only
People believe in what they hope to or want to or need to believe in. Often, they are scared by a phenom which they then quickly jump to a conclusion about, as to it's"obvious" source. See below for rationale.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wscottling View Post
What I find equally odd is that perfectly logical people can look into the vastness of space, know that we are but one planet orbiting one small star in one little solar system of a nearly infinite number of solar systems and think that we are the only living, breathing, sentient beings in all of that vastness.

Why would there not be any other sentient beings in all of that? And why is it not possible that they could contact us? When someone tells me it's not possible, I can't comprehend that.
Probably is, no-one had asserted otherwise. But it's a macro-uber-hyper-jump to then conclude, absolutely, to communicate over vast distances just by thinking a thought? We can speculate on the means such codified information would be put out there, and which sort(s) of receptive system of antennae or states of mind would have to exist in order to selectively receive. THAT is pretty wild speculation. We have no such known and/or measurable physical, biochemical or EM systems despite all the tests that have been conducted in labs, in sťances, and so on.

Truth be known, in any rational test, where the "receptive" is asked to ID some object on another room, or read another's thoughts, or bend a spoon, and so on: all fail when tested carefully & objectively. You cannot provide me one documented, peer-reviewed and duplicated test procedure and results that even begin to hint at the unlikely possibility of such directed and focused communication.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yzette View Post
Sure, it's possible for an atheist to believe in the existence of ghosts.

However, I do not. Given our status as products of evolution and biology, I do not believe in the existence of souls or that humans have any special kind of "spirit" that sets them apart from other animals. The only thing that separates us from them is the arrangement and expression of our genetic coding. If you're willing to believe in human ghosts, then I don't see how you could not also believe in ape ghosts, dog ghosts, bird ghosts, dinosaur ghosts, and so on, even plant ghosts: The presence of DNA either confers a spirit beyond a physical body or it doesn't.
And of course it does not, being a rather simple array of amino acids that happen to conveniently conjoin into a continuous chain. A coding system is all, one that is amenable to mutation and revision without always being a lethal change. Thus, we can mutuate, try things out, die trying or change for either a newutral revission or, OMG ; an improvement.

But so sorry; there's as of yet no evidence of any inherent electro-magnetic or wave pattern energy transmissions discovered. And the wondrous "nde" claims have ALL been discounted when tested.

If you claimed to have had one, why then, the facts are: 1) you didn't die, and 2) the mind, as it experiences hypoxia or other biochemical alterations that are often associated with "almost dying", or from being pumped full of modern biomedical concoctions, does all sorts of amazing things. A good ol' dose of fear about dying, a common attribute amongst many of us hominids, even me, can also facilitate the assumption of meanings, events or experiences. Anything but accepting you are possibly gonna drop off the face of existence into "the void of doom"!

Example: Once a few years back, when I was given some strong narcositc analgesics in the hospital, I then saw and began talking to (), a EMD (the "Electro-Motive Division" of General Motors, BTW) railway locomotive that poked it's rather enormous head into my hospital room. Oh, I forgot to tell you: I'd just been reading the latest issue of Trains magazine, being a rail enthusiast. Yah-think there just might have been a connection in my drug-addled mind?

Image Detail for - http://www.can-amtalk.com/forums/uploads/post-23-1160788341.jpg

(Now... say hello to the nice train!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilky666 View Post
An atheist who came to atheism through logic will not believe in "spirits"... they are skeptics, and will not believe in any supernatural phenomena... the same logic that got you the one will certainly get you the other. Atheism is a process, I believe, and a newly-formed atheistic belief needs to mature, where the gods are questioned and rejected first (along with religion in general) and gradually all the other supernatural crap is questioned and rejected.
Well, we might possibly believe in a phenom, but only after we see at least some sort of corroborative, supporting or interesting data.

The big problem with all such claims, and this goes for those of the biblical literalists as well, is that time and again, in literally every case that is carefully tested or re-tested, the results are either fully negative, or (and here's the really big kicker that the believers don't like or, apparently, understand..) those results are...

AMBIGUOUS.

Do you understand what that means? In a nutshell, it means the results can attributed to more than one possible source. By comparo, an absolute claim insists that here's no other possibe, or even unlikely, explanation. Nope. No way.

Undt Zo... a thing disappears in front of you... Hmmm. Yup; it's absolutely a GHOST, FurShur!

Or... is it simply a real cat that happens to be colored a sort of mottled "camo" shadow grey (I have one myself, right here..and guess what his name is? Ghost!), fades into the shadows.

Image Detail for - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/Grey_classic_tabby.jpg

Image Detail for - http://www.predatorconservation.com/images/sand_cat4.jpg

Image Detail for - http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/WI/223/4179/PreviewComp/SuperStock_4179-23132.jpg

Or a passing vehicle out on our rural road reflects a brief glint of sunlight into our kitchen, and it flashes across the wall painting we have there and that briefly appears to move.

A ghost for sure. I saw it! I know exactly what I saw!
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Seattle bound
284 posts, read 421,753 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rifleman View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by wscottling What I find equally odd is that perfectly logical people can look into the vastness of space, know that we are but one planet orbiting one small star in one little solar system of a nearly infinite number of solar systems and think that we are the only living, breathing, sentient beings in all of that vastness.

Why would there not be any other sentient beings in all of that? And why is it not possible that they could contact us? When someone tells me it's not possible, I can't comprehend that.


Probably is, no-one had asserted otherwise. But it's a macro-uber-hyper-jump to then conclude, absolutely, to communicate over vast distances just by thinking a thought? We can speculate on the means such codified information would be put out there, and which sort(s) of receptive system of antennae or states of mind would have to exist in order to selectively receive. THAT is pretty wild speculation. We have no such known and/or measurable physical, biochemical or EM systems despite all the tests that have been conducted in labs, in sťances, and so on.

Truth be known, in any rational test, where the "receptive" is asked to ID some object on another room, or read another's thoughts, or bend a spoon, and so on: all fail when tested carefully & objectively. You cannot provide me one documented, peer-reviewed and duplicated test procedure and results that even begin to hint at the unlikely possibility of such directed and focused communication.
Yeah, I was addressing the phenomena of UFO's not telepathy. ^_^
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
Yep. I do think we'll get there someday.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
I really do think that's true. I've gone on and on about ghosts on this forum, have done an unhealthy amount of reading on the subject and was set off on this whole episode by seeing a ghost on several different occasions with accompanying spooky phenomenon in my own house.

It's a big mistake to equate "ghosts" with dead people or even UFO's with aliens. That's our cultural conditioning at work trying desperately categorize something completely outside of human experience into something our minds can comprehend and relate to. The fact of the matter is that it might NOT be understandable or relateable to us at this point in time, any more than an an 860,000 mile wide ball of fusing hydrogen molecules millions of miles away would be comprehendable to an ancient Egyptian.

When it came to the sun, the best the ancient Egyptians could do was imagine a falcon-headed dude with a big gold disc on his head sailing across the sky.

Quote:
(rflmn's comment: you're obviously forgetting YSM again, Chango! she assured us all that it's a big ol' thingy out there that the angels have hung mirrors on to capture (?) and then reflect, but only at us (????) the heavenly light that permeates (???????????) the universe at large.
For us and the "paranormal" today, the best we can do is imagine spirits of dead humans who are still upset about being dead and bug-eyed aliens who are strangely fascinated with our genitals and feel the strong need to warn random people with no power or authority about the dangers of nuclear weapons.

We've gotta backpedal a bit... back to figures that shouldn't be there and tend to vanish instantly and strangely behaving lights or metallic looking objects in the sky. Stuff beyond that is most likely fantasy added on to real, misinterpreted and mostly likely naturally caused phenomena.

We've gotta face the facts... we are little apes on a backwater little world in an incredibly vast and complex universe, and we've only been trying to logically understand it all for a couple hundred years. We've hardly scratched the surface of all there is to know.

Anyway, Halloween is over and I need to get my mind off the subject before I really do go crazy...
I actually look forward to our increased understanding of potentially unique or so far undetected energy form, but to be able to focus and direct them? Unlikely. Else the world or that energy-domain, would be overcrowded, a mass of mental static.

To boot, again, there's never been a well-demonstrated experiment showing even the slightest of such abilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DayLight1555 View Post
Interesting, how seeing something like that doesn't prove that it's there. But is assumed that it was imagination. I guess we define "what is real" by whether that thing is like us, has flesh and blood or whether maybe we continue seeing it instead of it appearing...

Objectively speaking I think this thing that was seen could be (50% a real thing) or could be (50% imagination)

And I guess people are divided in their BELIEF (since there is no proof). Some believe it was real and others that it was not...

Atheists BELIEVE that what they are seeing is not really there (or not real)
and believers BELIEVE that it's real
just thinking...
There you go again, lumping atheist's beliefs. How convenient! "Atheists believe that what they are seeing is not really there (or not real) and believers BELIEVE that it's real!"

Hmmm. How so? As a scientist, I tend to believe in the possibility of probable things, those that might be a progression of an existing idea, or even of a more-improved or very creative and insightful idea. I also tend to skeptically and initially dis-believe in the totally improbable, like, let's say, the idea of a man flying to the moon with no visible means of propulsion or life support, just willing himself out there at, say, Mach 458, but naked as a jay-bird. Not saying it's impossible, mind you, but probable? Nahhhh; not so much.

I mean; let's try to keep it loosely within the realm of the semi-semi-rational, n'Kay? Your casual "lumping" is both unfair and totally inaccurate. Atheists simply believe in one less God than you believe in! Wow, huh? Get it now? There. That was simple enough, huh? Even for you Christians, who all think exactly alike!

(btw, I refer to this simple and refreshing process as The Application of Critical Thinking Skills, which are most commonly absent in the minds of the devoutly faithful, those who need to believe, and have therefore fervently clung to their religious perspectives from their childhood or teen years; and they thus don't ever want to question where that analytical thinking process might lead to a life-altering epiphany...)

It's the same for the claims that some long-lost auntie might indeed show up just because all her present-day relatives sit snugly around a table, hands linked, and then someone (who???) turns down the candle-lamps (why that mystical touch, btw?). But since everyone has had a pre-sťance libation or three of strong Bourbon that was, co-incidentally, claimed to have been home-made by auntie herself just before she "passed"... they all begin to "see" her, "feel" her, and yup; totally "believe in her".

But to say otherwise? "Why... harrumphhh! How disrespectful! Damned atheists! You'll just have to leave, and be quick about it!"

Oh, and then yep; we're labelled as Godless, cold-hearted auntie-hating Atheists, all sheepishly thinking the same (well fine; OK: if that means thinking rationally, carefully, and not being prone to wild flights of irreverent and unsupportable imagination and nutzo-fancy, I'll take the moniker!)

Last edited by rifleman; 11-06-2011 at 10:02 AM..
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:45 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,099,963 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weatherologist View Post
My husband and I are both Catholic Christians. We happened to be watching TV when some preview for a show about paranormal phenomenon came on. That then set in motion a discussion (if one could call it that) about whether or not atheists believed in such things (this was specifically a haunted sanatorium). My husband's thoughts were what many of you have relayed, "if they (atheists) don't believe in a God, then why would they believe in a spirit?". What I heard him saying was; no God, no spirit within the human body, no afterlife. I guess I have never given that too much thought. I know that I have had discussions (on this forum) with atheists who believe that there is no afterlife. After death we become worm food. Nothing more, nothing less. We're here, then we're not. Since I wasn't sure that was an exclusive atheist mindset, I decided to go to the source (YOU) and ask the question.
Technically an a-theist is "without god". Although many atheists reject anything supernatural or more precisely anything without a known and accepted empirical, rational explanation, it's entirely possible to accept the inexplicable or ineffable without accepting god(s) as the explanation for them. There are lots of options: the simplest one, which I generally go with, is to simply sit with uncertainty and refuse to superimpose your hopes, dreams, or fears on top of events you can't explain. Once could posit that consciousness exists independently of the body, as just the natural order of things. One could allow for reincarnation or an afterlife without requiring god in the picture.

I have had very little happen to me during my over 50 years of existence that I am even tempted to regard as what would generally be considered "supernatural". Recently I did witness something I can't explain that COULD be understood as communication from a non-corporeal being claiming to be a dead person. I do not think it was faked and I do not believe it was auto-suggestion or anything like that, because the persons involved are well known skeptics and they were as surprised as I was.

However, the experience raised many questions and settled very few. It causes me to admit the possibility of life after death or at least, of discarnate entities. However, I have no proof and can draw no real, useful conclusions, therefore, it really hasn't in practice changed my thinking. And even if it HAD changed my thinking, I see no reason whatsoever to bring god into it, particularly the specific, omnibenevolent god of Christianity versus any other god.

My thought has always been that if there were an afterlife, it would much more likely be "same sh_t, different dimension" than a conveniently idealized, perfected version of life on earth. I have no real interest in an afterlife. To me, long life, including life made long by extension to another realm of existence, is like a motion picture that badly needs a ruthless editor. No movie is so great that you want to watch it for hours or days; you want it to be generally 90 to 120 minutes long. This life is not that compelling to me, and I feel that I will have wrested from it what it will deign to give me by the time I've used up my allotted "four score and ten". After that, I'm gunning for oblivion :-)
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:20 AM
 
Location: Earth Wanderer, longing for the stars.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
I LOVE this topic, much the chagrin of the other atheists on this forum.

For me, it's not doing "mental somersaults" to believe in ghosts but not god.

First I've seen ghosts and experience ghostly phenomenon. I've never seen/experienced god, however.

Second, religious beliefs/practices can virtually always be traced back/attributed to various cultural factors; for example, Jesus is considered the "king of kings" and is essentially a model of the ideal European king. It evolved that way because Christianity evolved right along with and to compliment with the social and power structures of Midevil Europe. You can see this kind of thing happening in all religions.

Ghosts are pervasive throughout all human cultures and times, however. I personally suspect the phenomenon may have initially spawned religion and belief in an afterlife in the first place.

Religion was man's first attempt to explain the circumstances of our existence; we now know Zeus doesn't throw lightning bolts around when he's mad, and that our sun is not a falcon-headed god with a golden disk on his head, but science still hasn't tacked the question of why millions of people all over the world and across written history have seen ghosts. I hope someday it will.


It is my belief the ghost phenomenon is real; albeit misinterpreted and misunderstood. I don't know what they are, but I doubt they are the disembodied souls of the dead. They are most likely as of yet undiscovered natural phenomenon that is possibly tied into the quantum environment, perhaps "recordings" somehow left in the environment or even crossings in dimensions or branes as hypothesized in M-theory.
Yes, yes, yes. I agree with this. I have had too many strange experiences in life to deny our continuity after the body dies. I do not understand why this automatically leads to belief in a god. I think there is no 'super' natural, only a science which we cannot yet explain.

I always think if there were an all powerful god it would certainly have made itself clearly known by now.

Religion, dogma, God - all are man's attempt to explain that which we do not yet know. As science progresses, God fades(at least the phony one that was created by man).
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:26 AM
 
Location: Earth Wanderer, longing for the stars.
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Originally Posted by northstar22 View Post
I'm an atheist and a hard physicalist. I don't believe in gods, ghosts, spirits, angels, demons, or anything that cannot be explained in purely naturalistic terms. I think most "ghost sightings" are hallucinations, cases of mistaken identity, or outright fabrications.
I once thought the same.
I now think that there are huge realms that science is just now peeking at, just at the tiniest bit.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:34 AM
 
Location: Earth Wanderer, longing for the stars.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wscottling View Post
It is also easy for us to dismiss what we have clearly experienced as something that never happened. Our minds are double edged that way. I still say the possibility of spirits (and other things that cannot be explained by science) still exists.
Yes. It is safer than to expose yourself to ridicule. It is also very difficult to turn your back on what you have believed and argued for so long. I could not imagine having Hitchens as a buddy (I greatly admire the man) and having to tell him that I believe in an afterlife of some sort. I probably would just keep my mouth shut and convince myself that 'it' was some sort of illusion or delusion.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:47 AM
 
Location: Earth Wanderer, longing for the stars.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aganusn View Post
There are atheists and agnostics that believe in ghosts and spirits. And to be honest, I'm not sure why.....If these people were smart enough to use logic that discredits religious claims, why still have faith in ghosts? It is very confusing when atheists do this (to me at least).
Because some people have had (for them) very REAL experiences and to them the experiences are not refutable. The same people have not seen a god and do not get sucked into religious dogma because of a few hitherto unexplained experiences.
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