This may have already been talked about among the Atheist Nexus forums, however I was unable to find a posting.


Do any of you believe in ghosts? If so, how do you rationalize that with believers? I've heard/seen too many things to not believe in them, but I don't know how to explain that I do not believe in a soul.


Thanks for your help!

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I do not believe in ghosts (holy or otherwise).  I personally do not believe in any "magical, invisible" people or creatures.  Speaking of ghosts I've always loved the Christian rationalization of an afterlife.  I've often heard Christians cite the physics law of conservation of energy as proof of an afterlife.  After all, since energy can not be created or destroyed neither can your soul.  I've always thought it amusing that people would equate conservation of energy to being whisked away to some destination resort in the sky when you die.       

Is it possible to believe in ghosts and also be rational? No, I don't think so.

There's no credible evidence to support the existence of ghosts.

If you have experienced something inexplicable, there's no need to label the experience until you have thoroughly researched and investigated.

If you have a pre-existing frame of reference, ie, "ghosts may exist and they make tapping noises", when you hear a tapping noise you're likely to think "that tapping must be a ghost".

If you don't have the frame of reference you don't reach the same conclusion.

It works the same with religion. Christians believe that some people perform miracles and heal the sick, so when their sick auntie Mary suddenly gets well, they think it's a miracle because it fits the frame of reference.

Being rational means not jumping to conclusions.

No, I don't believe in ghosts, nor will I until someone shows me convincing evidence.




Thanks to all who answered.  I LOVE being here among rational beings!

I don't believe in ghost, spooks, etc. If a ghost is a persons soul, spirit, energy, why are they holding civil war rifles, fully clothed, on horses. Clothing, rifles, etc, don't have souls. Ghosts should be naked. My 2 cents.
There are several levels of fallacy at play here.

People need to remember that when they make a seemingly simple statement such as "I believe in ghosts", they're actually making a series of statements about what they believe.

To say 'I believe in ghosts' automatically implies and bundles together other beliefs:

-. The existence of an afterlife
-. Living things have souls
-. Souls/ghosts can be seen and heard by humans, but only some because...
-. ...only certain humans are 'sensitive' enough
-. Ghosts are visual and aural manifestations of souls.
and there are more...

You see how easy it is to find yourself building one fallacy on top of another?
Does anyone have any shred of evidence to support any of these concepts or even that they are all somehow intertwined in a complex and subtle way?

I highly recommend the Sagan's book, The Demon Haunted World. It helps to unravel thought processes and define the correct way to investigate phenomena rationally.

God and ghosts hang out together.  Belief in ghosts is no different than belief in the magic sky guy - it's a side effect of religion.

Another way to look at this is to decide whether you believe there is a non-physical 'you'.  That's called 'dualism'. Anyone who believes in souls or ghosts is a dualist.

A materialist believes that there is no non-physical soul or spirit, no life force or vital force.  That's called 'monism'.  Consciousness emerges from the properties of the brain. Hence, when your body and brain die, you're gone.  No ghost, no spirit, no soul to 'go onward'.

YOu guys make some good points both for and against the case for believing in ghosts. Personally I couldn't say with absolute certainty that they don't exist, but my gut instinct tells me that whatever process creates what we call consciousness ceases after death and is lost the instant in which the brain dies. I would find it hard to explain a facet of reality which would allow the disembodied consciousness of a person to remain after death.

No one made any points for believing in ghosts.

i was just wondering about this last night.  why is it that when Atheists discuss the belief in God, most of us compare it to belief in Santa or the Tooth Fairy.  why not ghosts? 


is it b/c there are still some Atheists that believe in this bit of supernatural?  or are we afraid that a believer might say "i've seen a ghost before" and then you're at a bit of an impass.  i mean, are you going to call them a liar to their face? 


a friend of mine, who is a believer but not particularly religious, suggested that people have energy which he believes doesn't die.  so he does believe in ghosts.  that's not surprising, i suppose, but to my larger question, why is it that we don't typically make the comparison of believing in God is like believing in ghosts?

I suspect we compare god to Santa and the Tooth Fairy because they all are supposed to give us stuff.  Ghosts are scary.  I often lump angels and fairies together, as imaginary winged creatures.   We could use any imaginary playmates as comparison figures; they're all pretend.

makes sense. 


we lie to our kids about Santa, etal, and think we are so clever.  yet the religious are being lied to by their churches, mosques, synogogues, etc. and they are blissfully ignorant.  there's a certain symmetry in this. 




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