I had an interesting discussion at work with the new girl. She said something about the house being creepy and I said that it is even creepier in the dark. She said, "no way! I bet it's haunted" and I told her that a lot of people think so. She asked if I thought the house was haunted.

When I told her no, she asked why the house would not be haunted (I work at an old folks home and it is a big house with lots of rooms and many people have died there - woooOOOOOoooo) and I told her I don't think any houses are haunted.

Now, this conversation wound around for a while and I finally said that I don't believe in spooks, ghosts, phantoms or spirits and she naturally kept asking and probing. I told her that I don't think we live on after we die, in any form.

"But what happens to your soul after you die?"

I told her that I don't think anything happens after you die. You're dead. I have no reason to believe consciousness continues after the brain stops functioning.

She told me a story about a boyfriend she had a few years ago who died and she had his cell phone and it had been shut off and one day his phone turned itself on and started getting texts like "I love you" and "It's not your fault." from an unknown number. He had died in a car wreck after a party and had been in a coma before slipping away.

First, I told her I was sorry for her loss.

Second, I told her that there are a number of explanations more plausible than a spirit using a phone to reach living loved ones. I pointed out that cell phone glitches are not uncommon and also... it was HIS PHONE. If it turns out this was some supernatural communication attempt a dead person was apparently sending texts to himself from wherever dead people hang out. It seems far more likely that the phone accidentally got turned on and old messages that other people had sent him after he died came through. She didn't like that explanation and asked what I would take as proof of hauntings/spirits.

I told her, "Pics or it didn't happen. If I saw it, someone else would need to confirm it independently. If I see/hear/experience it and I'm alone, I have no way of telling I'm not hallucinating. No vague stuff like mysterious texts either - it would have to be something without other, more plausible explanations."

So, for the 40 billionth time, a conversation about supernatural stuff comes down to someone who believes it telling me my standards are too high and me pointing out that it's on the person who claims it exists to prove it does; if they want other people to believe them, personal experiences are not enough and neither are technological glitches, as disturbing as they may be. I told her it was fine if she believed his soul was trying to contact her, but I am not convinced. I didn't want to step on too many toes so I stopped there.

"So you're not a christian?"

That came out of left field. I grinned and told the truth, no, no I'm not a christian.

"What about all the proof in the bible?"

I tried to keep my amused reaction under wraps, "I... didn't find it convincing"

"Haven't you read the bible?"

My grin must have looked like the cheshire cats, "Twice. Twice through."

That pretty much ended the conversation. I hope this doesn't affect our working relationship.

Because it was work, I was deliberately trying to be vague. The home I work at is a christian home and as far as I know only one other worker there is an atheist (and I only know that because we're friends outside of work). Though I rant and rave on the inside, I don't bring up religion in my 'public' life and am super respectful of the clients religions... they're old, they're tired, and some of them take comfort in their beliefs. It seems silly to try and take that from them when it wouldn't do anyone any good.

What I find interesting and somewhat disturbing about this whole conversation is that... well, I didn't bring it up. It's actually pretty rare that I bring something like that up to anyone I don't know well. When I do, it's usually in a roundabout way where I bring up something in nature or a disease process that's particularly contradictory to the notion of a loving creator god. I just go, "It's so horrible, no one deserves that."

Funny, no one ever disagrees with me when I say no one deserves to have disease/condition/disorder X, and yet they still believe in a god who would create diseases so bad that you wouldn't wish them on hitler. It's a weird sort of doublethink - god is good, no matter what. God is good when you get hemmorhoids, an inflamed appendix, or an allergic reaction. God is good when your immune system starts attacking your body, when your brain function deteriorates with age, or your vagina becomes prolapsed from a long life and too many kids leading to a weak pelvic floor and then "plop" - inside out girl.

It makes no sense. Maybe god is good, but he's just crap at the design aspects of being god? I mean seriously... Just looking at the way the digestive system is arranged is enough to convince me that if there were a 'designer' for our bodies he/she/it wasn't a very good one.

Meh. Rant over. Theists in my area seem very active lately.

-Tak

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Comment by Christina on June 11, 2010 at 1:07pm
Your coworker's ghost-phone story reminds me of one my uncle told me after my dad died.

On the day he died, a few hours later my uncle Johnny (Dad's brother) was out at dad's house to offer his support to my dad's bitch wife. Standing in the kitchen, his cell phone started ringing. The bitch wife and her sisters were all in the dining area, and all on their cell phones chattering away, so he stepped out the front door before pulling his phone from his pocket. He read the caller ID, which said "Glen Calling." This would have been from dad's land line inside the house. He answered but there was only silence, so he stepped back inside and asked if anyone had used the house phone just then, and no one fessed up. So he believes that my dad was trying to call him from "the other side." This makes me angry, because I know full well the type of people these are, and the bitch wife's bitch daughters were there in the house too. I wouldn't doubt for a millisecond that one of them, from the back of the house, called Johnny's number and hung up just to spook him. That's the type of game-playing bitches they are.

Whether there is some type of existence beyond the death of our bodies and minds, I don't know--and no one does. I will, however, say that there are some strange things that go on in our minds after we deal with the death of someone close to us. For instance....

The morning my father died, I had already been up all day the day before, and sat with him for 14 hours while his body succumbed to septic shock and his organs, brain and finally his heart gave up the fight. By that point I was already deliriously tired and experienced what I knew to be some hallucinations during the first few hours after his death. Despite my exhaustion, I had one hell of a time getting to sleep that night; but when I did, I had the most vivid dream of my father, clothed in jeans, the moccasin slippers he always wore, and his purple Graffiti Night T-shirt with hot rods on the front. he was laying on an examining table in a small white room with a bright light hanging overhead that seemed to make him glow. His eyes were closed, his hands folded neatly together over his chest, and his color was healthy. He spoke to me loud and clear, but without moving any part of his body. He said "Don't worry, I'll be with you." And then said "Chris, my eyes are going...." and that was the end of the dream. And that's not even what's the most odd. I found out a few days later that when the ambulance came to his house to take him to the hospital, they had to cut his clothes from his body during the ambulance ride. The clothes returned to the bitch wife a few days later? One pair of jeans, one pair of brown moccasin slippers and one dark purple Graffiti Night T-shirt with hot rods on the front. Now that's some creepy shit right there. I hadn't seen my dad for a few days prior to seeing him in the hospital, and then he was already out of his clothes and covered with blankets. I'd had no clue what he'd been wearing, and of course it's not important what he was wearing, so I never thought of it.

The thing that makes it less odd is that the purple Graffiti shirt was his favorite, and he wore it often. He just about always wore Wrangler jeans, and if he was at home he wore his moccasins around the house because his feet were always cold. This dream was a product of my mind spinning in grief, for sure. But it did comfort me, and I felt happy as I woke up the next morning.
Comment by Olga Spelts (Human Bean) on June 9, 2010 at 11:59am
I always hate when people ask 'well what about the soul?' It always sounds, on the superficial surface to those who arent familiar with the ideas of atheism to say, 'well you dont really have a soul.' Its not mean, but its always one of those things that needs further explanation. Because to these people soul=humanity. You know for those that are more hyperreactionary that they are going to go atheist=morbid downer, LOL! However, regarding ghosts I still wonder if what those who see them are seeing something but that ghosts have been misunderstood as something spiritual when in fact its something physical and some other scientific phenom. I would like to see a team of atheist ghost hunters.
Comment by Cose2Cose Productions on June 8, 2010 at 10:05pm
"What about the proof in the Bible?" WOW! Great rant!
Comment by Paul T. Bennethum on June 8, 2010 at 9:39am
Biblical proof? That's like saying everything you read in The National Enquirer is true because they printed it! And besides, what kind of diety would make us humans so imperfect and then judge us so harshly on our faults when we die when that diety is the one that supposedly made us all in the first place?!

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