"Atheists" who believe in the supernatural

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Truett's picture
"Atheists" who believe in the supernatural

What is your position on the existence of the supernatural and is there any difference in terminology in between the atheists who believe in the supernatural and those who don't?

Atheism is, in my estimation, the lack of belief in supernatural agency, events and the existence of the supernatural. I realize that isn't the definition of atheism, so I wonder if there is a term for people who don't believe in any supernatural existence, not just the disbelief in deities. I am an atheist and I've imagined that atheists believe in nothing supernatural, but I've heard a number of atheists say they do believe in something mystic, albeit not any deity.

For purposes of this discussion, when I say "supernatural" I mean outside of the nature. When I say "nature" I mean Dark matter, dark energy, any other known and unknown components of nature, any possible parrallel universes and everything else that exists in the natural order.

I don't believe in anything supernatural at all. No gods, spirits, mystical forces or unseen purpose.

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Biggus Dickus's picture
There's no such thing as

There's no such thing as supernatural only natural not yet understood.

Algebe's picture
I don't believe in anything

I don't believe in anything that hasn't been scientifically demonstrated on Star Trek.

However, I concur with J.B.S. Haldane's comment that "the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." So it's possible that there are beings with abilities that might appear supernatural to us, just as my ability to talk to someone on the other side of the world through my smartphone would have appeared supernatural to my distant ancestors.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Atheism is a broad tent so

Atheism is a broad tent so yeah you sometimes find atheists that believe in the supernatural (like say ghosts, or even concept of the soul, etc). Personally I don't get it, but whatever. Not aware of any term to separate them other than maybe "credulous", LOL.

The Pragmatic's picture
I don't believe in anything

I don't believe in anything "supernatural" like gods, ghosts, whitchcraft or magic. And none of the other wild conjectures like "chemtrails", "alien astronauts", "hollow Earth" or "reptilian overlord" and other conspiracies.

Instead of calling myself an atheist, since that is only linked to the lack of belief in gods, I'm thinking of just calling myself a sceptic and/or a non-believer.

DancingFool's picture
Oh, I thougnt YOU were the

Oh, I thougnt YOU were the reptilian overlord. Now what am I to do?

The Pragmatic's picture
No, no. Only those who you

No, no. Only those who you can't see are reptilians are in fact reptilians.

Pitar's picture
Well said and I subscribe to

Well said and I subscribe to your sense of atheism.

That said, I cannot tolerate an opposing view. There is nothing in the human psyche I can understand in that regard. It isn't so much a position of contriving truth from the ether of thought. It's the clear and present deflection of logic to a safe distance as we desperately hope and beg for purpose. In that agonizing hope, conceived, sired and dwelling only in desire, our affliction is to willingly accept imagination as some sanctified truth in the face of the historicity of fallacies clearly alive and admitted to in each and every dispelled myth. The expansive magnitude of that provenance cannot be denied or hidden.

In other words, we know we're lying to ourselves, have a few thousand years of evidence to such, and yet are still grappling with it in some psychically hobbling form. I don't understand that.

But, I do understand fear and that is the vehicle of theism. I can dig that and that's why my intolerance is relegated to only any form of argument theists portend to be of a logical nature. I can tolerate and allow for their fear-driven motivation. No one should live in fear and I would be a poor merchant to seek to sell it.

mykcob4's picture
I don't think if you believe

I don't think if you believe in ANYTHING supernatural that you can be an atheist!

The Friedmanite's picture
Being atheist means you don't

Being atheist means you don't believe in God, not that you don't believe in any of the countless other bulshit fairy tales.

mykcob4's picture
If you believe in "fairytales

If you believe in "fairytales" or anything supernatural and don't believe in a god, you are just being selective, not logical. If you believe in ghost then it only makes sense that you buy into the christian ideal of a holy ghost.

spicyharris's picture
I have yet to meet a so

I have yet to meet a so-called "atheist" that believes in the supernatural, but I personally don't believe in anything besides reality, and that such "supernatural" claims either can be or will eventually be able to be explained with science (naturalism). The dictionary definition of atheism is strictly the non-belief in a god or any god, but I am compelled to want to broaden it to all forms of the supernatural (ghosts, witches, etc.). I don't think that somebody who believes that there is a ghost living in their house moving moving things randomly can be called an atheist, per se. For example, if you're a naturalist (as many atheists are and should be), how do you explain the "ghosts" or "spirits"? Do they just disappear after somebody dies? Do souls exist? Where do they exist? There are too-many questions to be answered, and someone that calls themselves an "atheist" and claims to believe in the supernatural is not a very good atheist.

SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture
I wonder if there is a term

"I wonder if there is a term for people who don't believe in any supernatural existence, not just the disbelief in deities. I am an atheist and I've imagined that atheists believe in nothing supernatural"

I always thought those two things were synonymous to the non believer or at least for me. I'm so grateful thatmy parents nurtured my love for science. Growing up as a child of scientific discovery has resulted in my interpretation of anything allegedly "Supernatural" as just.. another thing of wonder to figure out.

Endri's picture
I might be wrong here, but by

I might be wrong here, but by definition an Atheist is "Someone who lacks belief in a Deity or the theory of Intelligent Design."

Therefore, even if people are Atheists, that doesn't mean (for the part of those) that they don't believe in "supernatural" things such as Fairies, Cyclops or even Unicorns, but of course, excluding God.

Audrey's picture
I have encountered many

I have encountered many atheists who subscribe to fantasies such as astrology, ghosts, souls, etc. I don't understand the phenomena. These beliefs do not necessarily implicate a god, so people who believe in them can still be considered atheists. It just seems they are not applying their critical thinking skills to these claims in the same way they do with religion. I have tried to have debates with atheists who believe in these sorts of things, and they tend to defend them the same way that a religious person would defend god. They will tell me I'm being closed minded, and that I just need to read my horoscope, have my tarot cards read, or see a ghost for myself, and then I will understand and believe. I imagine they have to experience cognitive dissonance, but in my experience with interacting with these people, I have seen that many of them don't recognize the inconsistencies in their logic. It's absolutely baffling.

Sariel's picture
I've been pondering

I've been pondering alternative terms for the different 'camps' of atheists out there. I mean you already have Implicit and Explicit and Negative and Positive and Weak forms of Atheism (sheesh), but then you have to account for the things that you brought up, such as belief in paranormality, etc. I mean these days you can't even say "scientist," because there's actually plenty of Christian "scientists" and plenty of non-theist scientists who are superstitious, e.g. What kind of term can we come up with? I mean, I wouldn't say that I'm an 'aspiritual' atheist, though I don't buy into much "spirituality," but only because I become quite in-spired when in nature or in great discussion, that my "spirits" are lifted. So that doesn't quite work. 'Amystical,' perhaps? But that doesn't quite cover it, either, because someone can believe in ghosts and not believe in aspects of mysticism. What a conundrum. Too bad the term 'materialistic' has been appropriated already, because I think it works nicely. Maybe it can be seen as different in meaning when used as a qualifier for the term 'atheism,' however. I'd like that. I.e., not to say "materialistic" atheist, but maybe 'materialist' atheist.

Jared Alesi's picture
Pliri Dyspistal Atheist.

Pliri Dyspistal Atheist. Dyspistal comes from the Greek for disbeliever, Dyspistos (δυσπιστος), and Pliri comes from Greek for complete (πλήρη). I looked on Google and couldn't find any specific term, so I made it up using Translate. So, be a completely disbelieving atheist, or a Pliri Dyspistal Atheist.

Jared Alesi's picture
Pliri Dyspistal Atheist.

Pliri Dyspistal Atheist. Dyspistal comes from the Greek for disbeliever, Dyspistos (δυσπιστος), and Pliri comes from Greek for complete (πλήρη). I looked on Google and couldn't find any specific term, so I made it up using Translate. So, be a completely disbelieving atheist, or a Pliri Dyspistal Atheist.

Truett's picture
I agree that it's a conundrum

I agree that it's a conundrum. I've heard people refer to themselves as naturalists, with the intent being that they believe everything is natural. That's not bad. Like you said, it's a conundrum.

Kataclismic's picture
I think it is simply the term

I think it is simply the term "supernatural" that is the problem. The very word indicates something you have no understanding of but you need to give it a title anyway. I don't ascribe a title to something if I don't have any understanding of what it is and to say a thing is supernatural is just doing that.

I once saw a UFO and then later identified it as the ISS, but that's the closest I've ever come to finding something intriguing that I couldn't explain. I didn't run and tell somebody that I saw something extraordinary as a first objective, I asked questions until I could explain what I saw.

France's picture
I fear you're framing this

I fear you're framing this from a very Western perspective. In former communist countries and some countries in Asia, the number of atheists is indeed spectacularly high, and so is the belief in supernatural phenomena.

chimp3's picture
When I was a teenage atheist

When I was a teenage atheist I was fascinated with Erich Von Daniken's book "Chariots of the Gods". It complimented my non-belief in a Judeo-Christian creation myth. A few years later I became a more practiced skeptic and saw through that nonsense. I now consider Von Daniken a racist. He was plugging the notion that primitive brown people were not smart enough to build pyramids without help from an alien super-intelligence.

JB God's Country's picture
"brown people were not smart

"brown people were not smart enough to build pyramids without help from an alien super-intelligence."

I've always kind of felt the same way. If we found evidence of this level of ancient knowledge in the UK somewhere, I'd speculate that the alien explanation would never have never be deemed necessary. I could be wrong. Maybe I should Google it?

Algebe's picture
@Chimp3: "I now consider Von

@Chimp3: "I now consider Von Daniken a racist."

I've heard similar stories about Stonehenge being too difficult for primitive pink people.

JB God's Country's picture
In former communist countries

In former communist countries and some countries in Asia, the number of atheists is indeed spectacularly high, and so is the belief in supernatural phenomena.

One has to consider that possibility that this belief is illogical. Certain truths are be definite. The West has, and continues to get shit wrong on a pretty regular basis as well.

Truett's picture
I'm with everyone on some Far

I'm with everyone on some Far Eastern and former Soviet bloc societies being "atheist" and yet believing in supernatural phenomena. To me, belief in a deity and anything supernatural amount to the same thing. It is believing something outside of nature as having some bearing on reality. I suppose I am a "naturalist", but I still don't have a good word for what I am. People that believe in the supernatural are making the same mistake that believers in god make. I really don't think that such an "atheist" as that and myself are in the same league, the same game, or even the same ballpark.

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