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Of Ghosts And Atheism


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#1 Kurari

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 01:02 PM

I'm a pretty open atheist. I don't have any beliefs about gods, ghosts, or the supernatural. I'm one of those who says, "I don't confirm that there ISN'T a god or supernatural. I'm just waiting to see the evidence before I form a belief on the subject."

That said, I love ghost stories and visiting "haunted" places. It's a guilty hobby of mine. I suppose it's part my love of history. If you ever come to Seattle, I'd be happy to point you to places to see it's sordid history and where the ghosts are. It's neat seeing paranormal investigators coming up with new ideas for measuring "ghost" activity.

Though now I'm starting to wonder how ghosts fit into my ontology. Clearly if they do exist, they would be something natural, not supernatural. I do believe that our universe "recycles" it's energy...To what capacity, I don't know. Maybe part of the universe's recycling of whatever it is that makes our flesh move is ghosts or rebirth or reincarnation.

Could there be such a thing as a "soul" without a god? An afterlife without a god? Do gods and ghosts need to be intrinsically tied together to exist?

I'm curious about your thoughts. Just for fun. :)
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#2 mymistake

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 03:05 PM

If ghosts/souls were natural then there would have to be some natural mechanism by which they operate. You would have to start with that idea and then construct a set of ideas that would justify it. These justifying ideas would be full of assumptions and have many problems that would have be be ignored or excused. That path leads to religion. You can explore it as a hobby of course. Have fun either way.
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#3 florduh

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 03:12 PM

Though now I'm starting to wonder how ghosts fit into my ontology. Clearly if they do exist, they would be something natural, not supernatural. I do believe that our universe "recycles" it's energy...To what capacity, I don't know. Maybe part of the universe's recycling of whatever it is that makes our flesh move is ghosts or rebirth or reincarnation.


You're very close to declaring that whatever exists or might exist is natural, and that would include concepts that have no evidence of existing. That means ghosts, reincarnation and souls could exist in nature, not magically beyond it. Doesn't really work for me.



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#4 Jose

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:27 PM

If it's something you're curious about, go gather the evidence yourself. Skeptics make the best ghost hunters.

I went with a friend of mine on a ghost hunt (he's in a legit paranormal society thing here in Florida) and every time they freaked out and "saw a ghost," I was able to say, "No, that's a plastic bag on a tree," or "That is a reflection of headlights on the wall," (both things that actually happened that night, btw) and immediately debunk their "sighting."

While I don't believe in the popular concept of "mass hysteria," I have personally witnessed "groupthink" and can, pretty confidently say that's what I think is going on in most of these "eyewitness" paranormal sightings.

I sure did "use" a "lot" of "quotes" in my post. I'll do "better" next "time."
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#5 florduh

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:29 PM

legit paranormal society


Now there's an oxymoron!



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#6 Jose

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:35 PM

Well, they have sponsors and funding. I think they might be tax exempt as well.

Anyway... they've got t-shirts. :lmao:
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#7 florduh

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:40 PM

Ooh, I want funding and a tax exemption! A t-shirt would be nice, too.



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#8 mwc

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 05:25 PM

Could there be such a thing as a "soul" without a god? An afterlife without a god? Do gods and ghosts need to be intrinsically tied together to exist?

Could there be a soul without a god? You bet. Or not.

An afterlife without a god? Sure thing. Or no go.

Do gods and ghost have to whatever to exist? Do you want them have to do that? So sure. Or. No way.

It's all exactly how you want it to be. You're the one deciding how it's all going to work. How ghosts will ultimately fit into your world view. They'll be natural and they'll also be...what? Do you want a god? You seem to want the afterlife of some sort so ghosts can go be there. But is a "god" asking too much? Do you want that again? Maybe if you make it less a God and more a god or a "god" that is to say some nebulous unknown energy that is just called "God" by people who aren't sure what to call it (like The Force). And so god is natural and the ghosts are natural and everything is natural. And it is now all real and natural and can be in your world view since it's all justified.

Now, I'm not saying that's how it's done. But that's how it's done.

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#9 SilentLoner

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:04 PM

I think there could be an unknown phenomena for what we call "ghosts."
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#10 Lilith666

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:31 PM

God created the world. Then he made the angels, but they didn't like him, so they killed him. Then they invented a beautiful afterlife for good people. (they're nice but not all-powerful.) Ghosts come down here sometimes to check on us. That fixed my god problem.
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#11 Ninj

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 06:49 AM

Hmm, I'm a bit skeptic on this myself. I visited a well known ghost haunt in a pub within the UK when I was there with my now ex-girlfriend, and apparently the ghost blocked my ex from entering the haunt while allowing me access, at least according to her. I didn't see or feel anything that could be attributed to a ghost, supernatural or otherwise.

Still, it's a fun thing to research and explore as a hobby. And Kurari, I might have to take you up on that offer sometime, I live about 30 miles north of Seattle in Everett. I wouldn't mind the chance to check out some haunts down there. :)
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#12 Kurari

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:25 PM

Hmm, I'm a bit skeptic on this myself. I visited a well known ghost haunt in a pub within the UK when I was there with my now ex-girlfriend, and apparently the ghost blocked my ex from entering the haunt while allowing me access, at least according to her. I didn't see or feel anything that could be attributed to a ghost, supernatural or otherwise.

Still, it's a fun thing to research and explore as a hobby. And Kurari, I might have to take you up on that offer sometime, I live about 30 miles north of Seattle in Everett. I wouldn't mind the chance to check out some haunts down there. Posted Image


Well HELLOOOOO neighbor! I'm actually in Lynnwood and going to move to Everett here shortly (hopefully!)

We should get some coffee sometime. Everett's another awesome place for ghost haunts. :)
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"It is such a beautiful thought that we are the heirs of 4 billion years of evolution and we are cousins of all living things. When you put that against the measly, piddling ideas that are in Genesis, there is just no comparison." ~ Richard Dawkins

#13 Kurari

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:27 PM

Though now I'm starting to wonder how ghosts fit into my ontology. Clearly if they do exist, they would be something natural, not supernatural. I do believe that our universe "recycles" it's energy...To what capacity, I don't know. Maybe part of the universe's recycling of whatever it is that makes our flesh move is ghosts or rebirth or reincarnation.


You're very close to declaring that whatever exists or might exist is natural, and that would include concepts that have no evidence of existing. That means ghosts, reincarnation and souls could exist in nature, not magically beyond it. Doesn't really work for me.


I'm curious about what you said here. Would you mind expanding on it for me? What's your definition of "natural?" If something exists or might exist ISN'T "natural," then what is it?
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“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

"It is such a beautiful thought that we are the heirs of 4 billion years of evolution and we are cousins of all living things. When you put that against the measly, piddling ideas that are in Genesis, there is just no comparison." ~ Richard Dawkins

#14 Ninj

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:44 PM

Well HELLOOOOO neighbor! I'm actually in Lynnwood and going to move to Everett here shortly (hopefully!)

We should get some coffee sometime. Everett's another awesome place for ghost haunts. Posted Image


Oh really? That would be lovely! Posted Image I didn't realize that Everett has some ghost haunts around here. I'll definitely have to start researching that when I get some free time. And yes, getting some coffee with you sometime would be great. Posted Image
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#15 par4dcourse

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:05 PM

I'm the guy who would knowingly wear the serial killer's jacket (if it fit well). I'd move right in to the site of multiple murders if it had been cleaned well. I don't think there's anything to "transfer" (see, Jose, I do it too).
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#16 midniterider

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 12:16 AM

I'm a pretty open atheist. I don't have any beliefs about gods, ghosts, or the supernatural. I'm one of those who says, "I don't confirm that there ISN'T a god or supernatural. I'm just waiting to see the evidence before I form a belief on the subject."

That said, I love ghost stories and visiting "haunted" places. It's a guilty hobby of mine. I suppose it's part my love of history. If you ever come to Seattle, I'd be happy to point you to places to see it's sordid history and where the ghosts are. It's neat seeing paranormal investigators coming up with new ideas for measuring "ghost" activity.

Though now I'm starting to wonder how ghosts fit into my ontology. Clearly if they do exist, they would be something natural, not supernatural. I do believe that our universe "recycles" it's energy...To what capacity, I don't know. Maybe part of the universe's recycling of whatever it is that makes our flesh move is ghosts or rebirth or reincarnation.

Could there be such a thing as a "soul" without a god? An afterlife without a god? Do gods and ghosts need to be intrinsically tied together to exist?

I'm curious about your thoughts. Just for fun. Posted Image


I don't recall experiencing many paranormal things in my life. But my parents were pretty logical thinkers and didn't believe in ghosts. I would say that most magical thinking is discouraged by parents anyway as we grow up (except for religion). So we may attribute logical reasoning to what could be paranormal oddities. Or upon detecting some paranormal thing our awareness just ignores it because we have been told that these things aren't real.

If two people are in a room and one sees a ghost and points it out to the other guy who cant see it, is it really there? Is it really not there? There is direct experience for one person and no experience for the other. How important is it that I believe one way or the other? Is evidence important? Why? Or why not?

I am a fairly logical thinker but logical thinking isnt my reason for living. I enjoy the idea that there may be ghosts or paranormal things but I don't need to have a mental structure in place that believes 100% this way or 100% that way all the time. There's probably an unquestioned meme that says I have to "pick one side or the other and stick with it, darnit!" but I don't agree. Dumping that meme is liberating. Dont feel guilty about what you enjoy, just enjoy it. :-)

Edited by midniterider, 15 September 2012 - 12:23 AM.

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Atheism is simply a lack of belief in Gods.

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#17 owen652

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 07:21 AM

I also went on a ghost hunt once, and although i was a skeptic I did see something which was pretty damn weird and freaked me out. But I am perfectly willing to accept that my brain is, just like everyone's, susceptible to groupthink and/or seeing things that aren't really there. People who take hallucinogens can see things, so why not people in groups who are psyched up precisely to see stuff like this? Your eyes are linked to your brain, which is a mysterious and powerful organ we know almost nothing about.
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#18 Zephie

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:03 AM

I enjoy watching all those kinds of things, intend on smudging my new apartment when I move in, and sure I think there are things out there that I can't explain. Tis what science is for. Also, keep it up as a hobby. LIke Jose said, skeptics do make the best ghost hunters.
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#19 Dhampir

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:53 AM

The best I would dare expect would be something akin to the afterimage left when staring at a brightly lit object. I have seen nothing that even remotely demonstrates anything more than that.
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#20 Jose

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 03:30 PM

On a slightly related note, I just found out my wife thinks our house is haunted.

She claims, in no particular order...
  • Strange smells
  • Strange noises
  • Disembodied voices
  • Feelings of dread
  • Moving shadows
  • Cat meowing at nothing
She says it only happens when she's alone or after I've gone to bed. My official explanation after being in the house alone for a whole day and night while she was visiting her family.
  • Strange smells - Our upstairs neighbor cooks "soul food"... very badly. I know what chitlins smell like because I grew up in Louisiana.
  • Strange noises/ disembodied voices - the house next door has a couple of squatters. They use our water spigot which is hidden by bushes to bathe, cook, and drink. The sound of the water spigot is very weird if you don't know what it is.
  • Feelings of dread - She takes Xanax to help her sleep sometimes. One of the side effects is a feeling of paranoia or anxiety which can happen up to 72 hours after taking the initial dose.
  • Moving shadows - This threw me for a bit because a particular shadow in the hallway doesn't really make sense in how it moves and where it is. I turned the lights on and realized that the paint on that wall in the hallway is high gloss, just like the bathroom instead of like the rest of the hall (which makes sense because its the wall facing the bathroom door and probably gets a ton of humidity from the bathroom, so gloss paint will last longer there), so the high gloss paint works more like a mirror in the dark than as a wall. Twa-dah.
  • She's a cat.
So, debunked the house. The missus feels better and was all set to admit that she was probably wrong about the place...

Then I showed her a newspaper article about the guy that lived there before us and the corresponding bullet hole the landlord didn't fill in all the way in the ceiling of our living room... and the knife holes behind the paint in our bedroom where his wife was standing when he stabbed her... and the stain under the carpet right under the knife holes.

Now she's all freaked out again. Posted Image
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