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!
I will consider believe in ghosts, as soon as someone has found enough evidence of their existence, that James Randi pays the million dollars......... Whenever someone makes any woo-woo claim, I tells them to apply for Randi's million and then come back to convince me.
Believing in ghosts is kinda like the idea that we cannot be the only ones in this universe. Aliens surely exist out there somewhere. There is just no proof, only logic. Ghosts on the other hand...interest me beyond belief. But can they be logical? I'm not sure..
Great reply! If we really consider the existance of apparitions, we always have the amazing Randi to sort it out for us.
I have seen some weird stuff, things I have difficulty explaining. It's partially what led me to paganism, many years ago. (The other part is that I love holidays and the old ways invoke within a connection to my roots... I can still enjoy them, culturally, but I don't have to believe anymore.)
Thing is, what we see, what we experience... it can be rationalized as our minds trying to interpret something that didn't mesh right, for whatever reason. Take for instance, sleep paralysis. I myself have experienced the very upsetting disorder more than once in my life. First, as a christian, then as a pagan. It's very scary. It feels very, very real. However, the reality is that sleep paralysis is caused by waking up too soon or staying aware when you should be asleep with the rest of your body. Your mind is awake, but your body has prettymuch shut down your control. Your mind interprets this as something uncanny. You hallucinate, as a result.
The typical hallucination is something demonic or, within recent decades, something alien. (Many alien abductions fit the parameters for a sleep paralysis episode.) Since I was christian, I envisioned a demon. And it felt very real, remember that. I thought it was, for the longest time. Sometimes, I wondered if I had some really bad mental issue. I eventually found out about sleep paralysis, and that knowledge helped me develop ways to deal with and come to terms with this disorder. I became a lucid dreamer (about 75-80% of my dreams now are blockbuster hits and very epic and fun). The time or two I had sleep paralysis and couldn't snap out of it, I rode it through and empowered myself... something along the lines of the Litany Against Fear. [Insert snicker here.] Regardless, it works.
Going from someone who very literally believed in the supernatural, from my own self experiences, to someone who is critical of slapped on explanations for woo-woo happenings didn't happen overnight. Eventually, it came down to this, though:
At the end of the day, does any of that woo-woo actually affect the results?
I asked myself this question, and being honest, I had to say... no, it didn't. It's like embellishing the truth, to make it sound more exciting. I can see the draw to that, but it's getting more and more difficult for me to understand it. To me, there are too many important things in this world we should be focusing on, than what goes bump in the night.
The problem with ghosts is the same as the idea of a soul, really. All the consciousness we've ever observed has been linked to physical attributes: brains. And it seems so inextricably linked that every physical part of the brain we damage or change, affects our consciousness in some profound way.
So the idea that it is possible for some form of consciousness to exist completely independent of anything is, to say the least, a stretch.
Personally, as someone who has had episodes of sleep paralysis where I've seen things standing besides my bedside looking as real as anything else I've seen, and not being able to move because I felt they were holding me down... I'm more inclined to think that ghost sightings are simply synaps malfunctions of various sizes.
Had I been a more superstitious person or lived in an age before the concept of sleep paralysis was known, I would have undoubtedly thought that what I saw during that night were ghosts or demons. And had I had this experience 200,000 years ago, I might well have been the first human to dream up the concept of demons.
But they weren't ghosts or demons: they were the figments of my imagination, spawned by a widely understood phenomenon that, nonetheless, scared the shit out of me and looked real.
I think it much more likely that all ghost sightings are something like that, rather than instances of detached consciousness.
In the occultism that no one ever seems to know of, things such as ghosts, demons, angels, and so forth are merely various representations of the psyche. The idea is less about souls existing, and more about all things being somehow linked. Perhaps, even, what is seen as ghosts are merely the leftovers of one's very psyche. After all, quite often the stories of ghosts tell of reenactments of events from the past, as if the apparitions are not actually conscious at all. The universe is quite mysterious.
To believe in ghosts one has to be superstitious...I'm not,so the answer is no.
Ghosts can exist only if living things have a soul. The soul was an imaginary entity thought to be present within the body of a living being, when old philosophers had no knowlwdge of the functioning of animal brain. The existance of soul has been disproved by the knowledge we now have about the functioning of brain. Matt VDB is absolutely right.