Atheists who believe in some supernatural concepts. Help me out here.

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Dale Floyd French's picture
Atheists who believe in some supernatural concepts. Help me out here.

Okay, don't attack me here. I am an intellectual atheist which, by definition, means I do not believe in any gods. However, and I realize I'm probably in the minority here, I do actually believe in certain, very specific concepts which could only be interpreted as "supernatural." So what exactly does that make me, were I required to be categorized? The definition of atheism, according to dictionaries, simply means a "lack of belief in deities," which does describe me, since I don't believe any of them exist or ever have existed. And though I do, by all means, believe very strongly in scientific principles and a need for proof when required, I still, due to my own personal experiences, have come to believe in a few concepts that fall somewhere between "New Age" and "Buddhist" philosophies, yet still fit perfectly into neither category. Am I in the minority by saying that I'm an atheist who loathes religion yet claims to believe in certain supernatural concepts regardless? Be nice; I'm sensitive, even online. :)

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Phil Fieldhouse's picture
I agree with you entirely and

I agree with you entirely and have often asked myself the same question. I am an atheist whose views can often be described as bordering paganism/new age etc. Supernatural is a catch all phrase muddied by folk lore and media. Science can barely describe a fraction of what is around us, things we take at face value let alone the vastness and complexity of the world we inhabit. A lack of need for a deity to support ones belief shows more a strength in ones own beliefs.

DarkLight's picture
If you believe in the

If you believe in the supernatural but dont believe in god you are making no logical sense in your "logic". It's just ridiculous to believe in no god but believe that there are ghosts for example.

Zaphod's picture
I don't believe in God but if

I don't believe in God but if you grew up in the house I did you would believe in ghost. Guess I am ridiculous. I do however find myself to be logical I have seen ghost but have not seen God. Though I can't say much about ghost, for example what they really are I can say I have seen at least one ghost but have not seen any god.

Uniquecoolusername's picture
I'm say you don

I'm say you don't believe in god, as though there is only one, and you also capitalize the G. I'm not attacking you, I'm just wondering if maybe you do believe in a certain god in some sense? Or maybe you are just used to referring to a certain god as though it is a real person, hence the pronoun usage?

Also, I lived in a house that had some weird "ghostly" things that would happen regularly, so I totally hear you there. I hate to give it a name, like ghost or whatever, because who knows, but there was definitely some weird energy in that house and I am super glad this topic is coming up.

Eharper05's picture
Believing in the supernatural

Believing in the supernatural does mean you believe in a god. Supernatural could mean any unexplainable phenomena. I believe there are things in this world that have not been explained or discovered, and will, at some point be explained by science. Many things in history were passed off as supernatural, that today have been explained.

Sheldon's picture
"Supernatural could mean any

"Supernatural could mean any unexplainable phenomena."
This is often used as an argument for the existence of the supernatural, but f something is inexplicable then of course by definition we can make no assertions about it. This is in fact the common logical fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam.

"I believe there are things in this world that have not been explained or discovered, and will, at some point be explained by science."
I'd say the first is demonstrably true, I might qualify the second remark with a might or a may explain it..

"Many things in history were passed off as supernatural, that today have been explained."
In point of fact every single thing we have evidence to explain is natural and physical, we have zero evidence for anything supernatural.

Heathen7718's picture
I personally believe that

I personally believe that energy is the eternal building blocks of the universe and it has always existed in some form. Therefore a God is not necessary and there is no evidence to support one. So I don't believe in a God. I do believe there are still forms of energy we haven't discovered yet, look back 200 years & we didn't know about radiation, high frequency sound or the atom.i believe in evolution yet could see energy transforming or evolving into attaining consciousness creating the spirit. So it is possible to be an atheist and believe on ghost or the spirit as a form of conscious energy.

Rob's picture
I find this one to be very

I find this one to be very contradictive but it also depends on what kind of paranormal or supernatural concepts you believe in. Would you care to share them?

Zaphod's picture
Yes, I agree with Rob here!

Yes, I agree with Rob here! Can you elaborate?

Dale Floyd French's picture
Nevermind. I knew this would

Nevermind. I knew this would happen. A minority within yet another minority. I wish I'd not even brought it up. Why is a lack of belief in a deity automatically implying that one cannot believe in other things which cannot be proven. I am an atheist. I do not believe there are gods. I believe in science, but I also believe science cannot prove everything either. Therefore, there may be things we do not perceive or do not understand and perhaps I believe that they could be real. I am not claiming that they are certainly real, like my religious family members just "know so well that Jesus IS real." I am simply saying that I don't believe in religion and gods but I am open to the concept that there might be things we do not understand working within the universe. Forgive me fellow atheists for trying to have a conversation on here. Yet another website I cannot post on now.

Zaphod's picture
Hey Dale, come now, don't

Hey Dale, come now, don't give up so easily, I agree with the point you are making and would really like to know more about the paranormal beliefs you have. As you can see above I stuck up for your side of thing a little, but I would like you to elaborate on your paranormal beliefs so we can discuss this a little more intelligently. I for one don't think ghost and aliens are unbelievable though science has yet to prove their existence I do believe in such things and feel the likelihood of such things is quite probable. please don't give up so easily. this was a great forum topic!

Can-dice's picture
I am an atheist and I've had

I am an atheist and I've had paranormal experiences. As a matter of fact I just searched the internet on this topic and found your post on this website. I joined because until recently I was in denial of anything paranormal being real. About two weeks ago I received a message from a local paranormal investigator asking questions about a home I had previously lived in. The new owners, in detail, before I shared anything mind you, are having the same exact experiences that I had. To me it was confirmation that I really did experience something paranormal. So, to me personally, you CAN believe in the paranormal and not in a god. Cheers!

Sheldon's picture
"Why is a lack of belief in a

"Why is a lack of belief in a deity automatically implying that one cannot believe in other things which cannot be proven."
It's not, but why on earth would you believe in something you can't properly evidence?

" I also believe science cannot prove everything either."
This is an unfalsifiable claim, you cannot know this, though given science is a human tool or method for acquiring knowledge I think it there logical problems with the assertion we can know everything, we are finite beings that live in a finite solar system for a start.

"I am open to the concept that there might be things we do not understand working within the universe."
I'd say it was axiomatic that there are things about the universe we don't understand. This does not imply these things are supernatural though, that would be an argument from ignorance again. We have no evidence for anything supernatural, and we can't even say whether the supernatural is possible or not.

"Forgive me fellow atheists for trying to have a conversation on here. Yet another website I cannot post on now."
You're being overly sensitive I think, if we offer ideas for discussion we have to accept criticism of those ideas, as long as it is justified and salient.

In a nutshell not knowing something, or being able to explain it does not in any way suggest there is not a natural explanation or that a supernatural explanation is justified, or even possible. We'd need a method of detecting the supernatural and then a method for testing any evidence we acquired for it, we have neither and no evidence for the supernatural. Be wary of unfalsifiable claims, and don't fall into the theistic trap pf thinking the rejection of a claim is the same as making the opposite claim, it is not.

Walker's picture
I think that is you come to a

I think that is you come to a forums such as this you shoukld expect people to raise questions and not agree with every single thing you have to say. If you expected an answer and got it, it might be because it alomost begs to be questioned.

There is just not much logic involved in believeing in the supernatural and not believeing in god and religion.

7jax's picture
Although gods are a subset of

Although gods are a subset of the supernatural, the belief in a god and the belief in the supernatural are not mutually exclusive if what you believe in is a separate subset. Believing in something like a ghost does not preclude you from being categorized as an atheist. I'd guess you're agnostic atheist. You don't claim with 100% certainty a god(s) doesn't exist, but you reject the claim that they do, likely due to insufficient evidence. So for me, this begs the question, what evidence do you have to support a belief in whatever it is you're calling supernatural? Of course something can be possible, but if you don't have any evidence to support it and believe in it due to a lack of understanding then it sounds as if you're subscribing to the argument from ignorance fallacy. If you do have evidence, then I'm sure everyone would love to hear what it is. If it is merely anecdotal, then you will not convince anyone here that it exists, as extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I for one am curious what "specific concepts" you're referring to.

The Profit Ezekiel's picture
I'd agree with SevenJax here.

I'd agree with SevenJax here. The argument from experience will not sway many to believe what you experienced, but that's to be expected. By stating that science doesn't have all the answers, so "..." did it, is the same argument the religious use. There are things that are unexplainable and experienced by normal, rational people, this does not make them supernatural though, just unexplained. Personally, when I hear the word "supernatural", I see "impossible". Supernatural is only possible if it over-rides the natural laws of our lives/world/universe.

Zaphod's picture
Good point Profit, I guess if

Good point Profit, I guess if I were view the word supernatural the way you do I would than have to say I don't believe in the supernatural I don't make the laws of the universe but surely I don't understand ghost. I think things about them but truly understanding them is another subject all together. I know at least from my own experience that they are real but I can't explain them sufficiently or even provide unquestionable proof. Unexplained things happen all the time and I guess this should not be reason to call things supernatural. Perhaps someone should start a thread that identifies commonly misused and abused words like for example faith and lump the word supernatural in there I have seen conversations on the meanings and uses of words come up a few times before on these forums.

Walker's picture
I just experienced a very

I just experienced a very strange event yesterday. I saw a glass of water move at least 3 inches very slowly on a table. Two other people witnessed the phenomenon. We have no idea what it was and how it happened.

Zaphod's picture
If you don't want it called

If you don't want it called supernatural, are you willing to say it is at least unexplained and thereby no so far fetched to believe in the possibility of such things you have no proof of. If you do want to call it supernatural are you ready to believe in God and Religion? My point is you can can believe there are things unexplained by our current understanding of nature and one can logically believe in these things and not believe in God and religion.

Wayne Materi's picture
Condensation produces a very

Condensation produces a very thin film of water under the glass. This film has almost no friction and allows the glass to move in response to slight inclination of table (very slowly). This is much more likely than any supernatural explanation.

Kyder Dee's picture
Well another one that I think

Well another one that I think alike and no answers... great

C. M. Allen's picture
Hello. To which questions

Hello. To which questions are you seeking answers? Not that anyone can answer them, but you never know what you might get if you don't ask.

WilfDisney's picture
To reject a belief in the

To reject a belief in the supernatural takes a conscious effort. We are all prone to believing in some kind of supernatural agency at some point in our lives, believing in luck, wearing the same socks for job interviews, talking to lost ones like they can hear us, taking extra care on Friday 13th, etc. all of these types of behaviours have been observed in the most rational of people.

The development of causal reasoning involves experimenting with disembodied sentience ('is that the wind moving that bush or my enemy with a large rock waiting to stove my head in'), which itself relies on making up what we would call 'supernatural ' entities. So, even if people have buried the memory of that, we all went through it.

It's perfectly normal.


Jeff Vella Leone's picture
One point to make here:

One point to make here:

Atheist are mostly skeptics

So yes, a minority of the minority.

But what makes the difference between a genius and a mad man is fine line.
One thing is for sure, he is always in the minority.

That being said however, some terms need to be properly addressed:

There is no such thing as the supernatural.

If ghosts exists it MUST be a natural phenomena that we have not yet understood.
You are not alone in those beliefs/opinions, maybe you are one of the few that does not keep them to himself before he has something to present.
Don't know if that is a brave of foolish thing though.(might be both)

I agree with WilfDisney

"It's perfectly normal."

SpookyLittleGirl's picture
I appreciate that this is an

I appreciate that this is an old thread but this is exactly my belief too.
I have no belief whatsoever in a deity but the house I grew up in and early experiences there lead me to believe that there must be something "supernatural" in this world whether that is the "ghosts" of the former living or another lifeform entirely that we struggle to detect

Vincent paul tran's picture
I've played with magick and

I've played with magick and the occult in the past. I've had enough personal experience, with telepathy, precognition, extra-sensory experiences and soul reading and future reading through the tarot that I can vouchsafe that it is not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

I think from this rough sample, 60:40 are open to your worldview. So I don't recommend giving up on this forum just yet (most forums I visit with occultic elements are too woo and unsubstatiated for my taste). PM if you want to talk about your experiences or mine

Kataclismic's picture
The human mind is prone to

The human mind is prone to accept the supernatural. We have bacteria in our bodies that do things we have no control over, and yet we exist because they can metabolize our breakfast and feed our cells. Before the advent of microscopic technology this would have been supernatural, hence the creation of gods that created us. The more we learn through science, the less we depend on the supernatural to explain anything. The true test is whether we accept it as supernatural or investigate it scientifically.

Mike's picture
I find myself in this same

I find myself in this same category and have been looking for a place recently to post my questions. Specifically, I've been looking for insight into the following event/non-event from people who probably think more like I do.

I was brought up in a very religious home (Baptist) and was a believer in my youth. As I left home in my early twenties and began to broaden my world view, I began to question many things about my upbringing - including my belief in God. Over the years, I began having more and more doubts until I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't a believer. I "came out" to my family and friends with much of the results you might expect. I'm okay with that and, since the initial discussions, people have largely kept their opinions to themselves.

From my perspective, something is either true or it isn't (e.g. not "It's true for me."). I'll always choose to face the truth and deal with it. It's just not in my nature to avoid questioning/thinking about something because of fear of what I might discover or the truth I might have to admit.

Having said this, what follows is an extraordinary story I was recently told and that I've been struggling to understand.

Over the summer my mother passed away. I recently learned that her best friend and her husband, who live across the street from my mother, confided in my sister and brother-in-law that they witnessed an extraordinary event at the time of her death. According to them, they were sitting on their front porch when they witnessed a white mist with sparkles of light moving down the street towards my mother's house. The husband said "I hope that's not here for (my mother's name)." The mist stopped in front of my mother's house. His wife said something along the lines of "I can't be here for this." and went in their house. He said the mist lingered for a short time, circled my mother's house while now leaving a trail behind it then vanished in an instant. Shortly after we called to let them know my mother had passed and they said they already knew.

Trust me when I write that I know just how crazy this story sounds. It would be very easy for me to simply dismiss the story and not give it any further thought or to embrace the story as proof that my mother's in a better place and use this as my proof. Like I said before, that's just not my nature. Now that I've heard the story, I have to deal with it and reach some conclusion.

It seems to me there are a few possibilities:

1) The people in question made up the entire story: I honestly don't think this is the case. Regardless of what actually happened, I know these people very well and don't think they would ever lie about the story. I've never known them to tell similar stories and cannot remember ever catching them in a lie. I've asked myself if perhaps they made up the story because they thought it would bring the family comfort but I don't think this is the case. The husband is very pragmatic and, as I understand it, had concerns about the story being told to others.

2) They saw something explainable but mistook it for something else: Certainly possible. Since I wasn't there to witness it, I can't comment on what it might have been. If they had said they saw a shadow that morning then my mother died that evening or that they just had a feeling then I would immediately dismiss it; however, these are both intelligent people who described a detailed event that took place over maybe a minute of time. I wonder if I would have seen the same thing if I had been there. I simply don't know.

3) They saw something that cannot currently be explained: Is it possible/reasonable they really did see something that we cannot explain? I honestly don't know.

I wouldn't have respect for someone who claimed they knew EXACTLY what happened and that it was God taking my mother to heaven. I think that's taking the easy way out and just telling yourself something to be comforted. Conversely, I think it's the same mistake to quickly say it didn't happen or to quickly explain it away as they were sad, it was the reflection of a car's headlight, etc. It may well be explainable but I'm not confident enough in the answer to tell two intelligent people they didn't see what they say they saw and that I, who wasn't there, can explain it.

The truth is, I don't know what happened and will likely never know. Also, I'm not suggesting that the three possibilities listed above are all equally likely. All I really know is that two people for whom I've always had a great deal of respect have told my family an incredible story that I can't just ignore. This honestly isn't something that I'm hoping is true or telling myself is true because it gives me comfort. I've lost numerous people in my life and have never felt the need to do so - it's just not my nature. To me, this either happened or it didn't and my thoughts about it are irrelevant to the truth.

How do you deal with it when people you respect tell you they witnessed something extraordinary?

Nyarlathotep's picture
1) They say the already knew,

1) They say the already knew, but you will notice they didn't warn you. I suggest they only claimed to knew after they were told through traditional means (telephone call). What is much more likely is that their memory is playing a trick on them and that once they knew what happened, then they can retroactively reinterpret the strange events they witnessed earlier. We all do this all the time, it is just the way the brain works.

2) As I hinted above; if you clearly saw a mist of white sparkling light circling your neighbour's house, don't you think you would do something, like call your neighbour, or call the police? I suggest they saw something weird (maybe an unexplained shadow or something like you suggested) and only after they learned what happened to your mother, did it become reinterpreted as noteworthy and supernatural (which explains why they did nothing at the time).

3) Reading between the lines of the story, I'm assuming your mother was in terminal/bad health before her death, and this was a well known fact to close friends and family (including the neighbours in question). If that is in fact the case, this alone would be enough to disregard the story. Unexplained things happen all the time, the world is a complicated place. When you know ahead of time that bad things will are going to happen, any mysterious event can be easily interpreted as an omen.

Now here is a version of a story that would be interesting:
Everyone in your family is healthy. The neighbours call and say they saw a strange sparkling mist circling your houses and they are concerned that the angel of death has come to claim one of your family members. You assure them everything is fine, but while you are on the phone with them you hear a scream upstairs because someone in the bathroom just got electrocuted in a terrible accident.

However, this is never what happens. The conclusions are always drawn after the facts are already known, never before.

Mike's picture
Thanks for your response.

Thanks for your response. You bring up a good point about assigning meaning to an event once the outcome is known. The thing that sticks in my mind though is the husband saying "I hope that's not here for (my mother's name)." and his wife saying "she couldn't be here for this." before they new she had just died. On the other hand, if my mother hadn't died then they may have dismissed it and never told the story.

I think your point about interpreting things differently (e.g. omen) when you know something bad is imminent is also a good point.

You've given me some good perspective and I appreciate it. As I think more about the "event", I'll definitely consider your viewpoint.


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