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

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Nyarlathotep's picture
Another thing to consider: In

Another thing to consider: In industrialized societies, the majority of the population has immediate access to digital cameras (in the form of cell phones). If there are clearly visible angels of death (or whatever) going around collecting the souls of the dying, where are the thousands of high quality video/pictures we should have of them? Instead all we have are hoaxes and blurry crap that could be anything (or nothing); just enough to convince people who want/already believe, and nothing to convince anyone else.

If you really want to investigate this further, here is what I recommend:

1) surprise witness #1 with a detail map of the neighbourhood, and ask them draw the path that 'mist' took from where they first saw it, to where they lost sight of it. Have them draw arrows on the path to indicate its motion. Also try to get them to describe the size of the object: was it taller than a man? taller than the house? taller than the tree out front? Same for the width.

2) repeat step 1 with witness #2 (with a new map of course, not showing them the results from witness #1), but do not give witness #1 or #2 enough time/opportunity to communicate during this entire process.

Wayne Materi's picture
Is something that science can

Is something that science can't presently explain necessarily supernatural? Do you believe there will eventually be a scientific explanation for such things? Remember electricity and magnetism were once considered supernatural but are now fairly well understood by science. Or will these mysterious things some day lead to an expanded understanding by science? Or are there things that just can't be understood? Are the things you talk about supra natural (i.e. requiring an expansion of our knowledge) or super natural (i.e. there is no understanding of nature in any way that could lead to an understanding)?

Sorry but no. If you think there is a phenomenon in the universe that can NEVER be explained in any rational way, then you pretty much believe in God. That is, you believe in a phenomena that can only be explained by the exercise of some arbitrary will. So, would believing in ghosts count as supernatural. Well, if they have a way to interact with the universe, if they are some persistent energy field, that would require us to expand our understanding of nature. Supra not super natural.

El Diet's picture
By wording your question as

By wording your question as you did, you are creating a direct causality between supernatural and gods. I do not believe one has anything to do with the other. Supernatural occurances are things that happen and can't be explained yet. Gods are fictional characters created by man to reply to questions to which there are no answers, yet. Unfortunately, when the answers are found, religions simply refuse to accept them, thus keeping their faith alive.
In my opinion an Atheist is better equipped to detect a supernatural occurance, since he is not bothered by a series of beliefs that the supernatural needs to fit.

Although your question is understandable, it is but proof of your atheism. Kudo's for putting yourself out there.

LaMimada's picture
Ok, Dale French, this may

Ok, Dale French, this may help a little. It's a bit off your topic but in the same genre.
My comments at the end are about how this thread initially started. - it is about the impression I got when reading starting at the beginning of this thread..

What is considered "supernatural" is relative. It means different things to different people. As an Athiest I don't believe that fact based Athiesm and what is not yet known to be natural should be mutually exclusive.
I can't have an opinion on what happened in Dale's life because I wasn't there. Unfortunately he will have to come to terms with it. If it happened to me, after gaining as much information as possible, and I still had not made a decision on what I believed happened? I think I would have to decide that it is ok not to know. We have no clue about things we do not know therefore we can speculate but not answer. I've always been inclined to think about things with an opened mind.

This is what I wrote along the same lines as the initial question.

In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant—it is said to be conserved and not dissipate.
The conscious mind consists of an electromagnetic field. The firing of electrical impulses along nerves in the brain is sort of like an alternating current system, but with a lot more directions and cascade effects. We measure brain activity in the body to find out if life is still viable. If there is no activity you are considered deceased.
Does it not suggest then that when we die, OUR energy does not dissipate?
Now, where that energy goes or what it does no one knows. I certainly don't claim to and do not know anyone who does.
If our energy is an electromagnetic field and assuming the persons energy stays around, would you not be able to measure that energy with the use of an EMF detector?
Assuming that you can measure this energy. (obviously in a place that has no electricity nor anything else that emits EMF - a controlled environment) Could you not then test for intelligence, in theory, by asking yes or no questions and having the energy indicate by manipulating the EMF detector?
If this energy gives answers to questions without any outside interference and then you fact check for accuracy. Would that energy be considered to have intelligence? Or consciousness?
If these tests have all been successful then are they not the definition, at the very least, of the existence of a persons energy after death?
I am not suggesting that this would be a soul in the biblical sense and I'm not suggesting there is a heaven or that we get judged etc. I am only suggesting that there may be energies still around us after their bodies die. It is measurable.
To me, that's enough proof that our energy does not dissipate.
This is not to try to make people feel better - (it's been my experience that we as atheists do not think that very important anyway and I'm desperately trying to change that)
It's not an automatic response of "needing" to make sense of anything. I was fine with everybody being dead completely.
If anything, it opens up a whole new world that we have absolutely no clue about - more questions than a simplification of our reality. More things to study which to me is an exciting development.
Does string theory play into any of this?
Are their other planes of reality?
I do not know.
I do know this:
I know that I do not believe in deities. I believe in what there is proof for. What is measurable.
I know that everything we now know as fact today used to be someone's crazy ass idea.
Without hypotheses there is no experimentation.
I think that we would be very naive and it would be very grandiose of us to think that we absolutely know exactly how this thing we call life works. After all we are so young in relation to the evolutionary time table. We haven't had much time to figure it out.
If we are so sure of our beliefs then it should not be intimidating considering a crazy idea especially when based in science.
My last thoughts:
When Atheists judge other Atheists for bringing up new or different ideas and then treat them as though we have all the answers, is it not exactly like religious people that judge all others because they too "know" all the answers because they read them in the bible? Disagree all you want, but give sound reasoning why.
It is my personal goal to try to be as accepting of all people as I can. Anything else would be just like the religious - and God forbid..... Lol!
This should be a place of polite discourse not a place to degrade or argue in a condescending way. We all know many religious people believe, that without the word and guidance of a god, everyone would turn into lawless, heartless and uncaring jerks because we wouldn't know any better.
It behoves us to prove them wrong.
A post is a person. Do not let the media fool you. No one who posts an idea online deserves to be ripped apart or even insulted unless that post was meant in a negative way. On other sites it's easy to find bullies and it's easy to be one while hiding behind a screen name. Everyone deserves respect because they exist.
Can you imagine how much more interesting discussions would be if all who contributed did so without fear of ridicule?
These are my opinions. They are controversial - some even to me - can't say I believe 100% but the collection of proof is just now getting interesting.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
"Does it not suggest then

"Does it not suggest then that when we die, OUR energy does not dissipate?"
If the universe is a close system then the law would apply yes.

Another fact you should look into is the fact that we are constantly radiating heat energy.
Where is that energy going if the universe is a closed system?

Veronica Maur'er's picture
Law on conservation of energy

Law on conservation of energy: Energy is not created or destroyed. It just changes forms.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Jeff Vella Leone - "Where is

Jeff Vella Leone - "Where is that energy going if the universe is a closed system?"

lol, poor Jeff, wants to make the craziest arguments about physics, but don't understand high-school thermodynamics.

MDHeyne's picture
Our energy does dissipate.

Our energy does dissipate. We die, we are consumed by bacteria and then the elements from which we are constructed return to the earth to be absorbed once again into the food chain, once more becoming part of the great chemical reaction that is life. This does not support the idea that anything of who we are survives death. Who we are, what we perceive as our consciousness, requires the functioning physical system to exist. The electrical impulses in our brains, often mistakenly thought of by some as the soul or consciousness itself, are a product of a physical neural network and chemical reactions within our bodies. When the body dies it's kind of like turning off a computer. The physical aspects of the system are still there but the energy it requires to remain active longer being supplied. As a body dies the heart stops, the oxygen that fuels practically every process in our bodies stops flowing and the electrical signals stop. The only real difference here is that a computer can be switched back on whenever you like, but the human brain suffers catastrophic cellular degradation after 2-3 minutes without oxygen. No energy is lost upon death. It just stops being generated by the body itself. Electricity isn't like water flowing through a pipe. A pipe removed from your home after switching off the mains will still contain water, whereas a wire removed after disconnecting your electricity is no more or less charged than it was when it was made. Electrical energy passes through wires by forcing excited electrons to hop from atom to atom. As each electron moves to the next atom, it forces one electron from it's destination atom to the next and that one from the next and so on. So when the power source stops or the circuit is broken this conga line stops and the electrons settle. What little of the residual energy the was exciting the electrons is left is then released in the form of heat and electromagnetic energy which then seeps out into the universe.

For the sake of responding to your second remark, lets assume that the universe is firstly finite and, secondly, a closed system. Pretty much all life on earth creates heat. We turn chemical fuels into energy that powers our biological processes and creates heat which we are always radiating into the environment The suns light heat the environment, as do the nuclear reactions within the planets core. This heat will continue to be generated until the chemical and physical reactions by which it is generated consume all available energy and fail. Where does all the heat go? Out into the vacuum of space in the form of infra-red electromagnetic radiation, essentially becoming trapped as potential energy until it interacts with matter and becomes heat or light again before dissipating again. Now, as a finite universe has so little available energy in such a vast space, it is theorised that eventually every source of energy will be consumed, meaning that all of the energy in the universe will be spread across the entire universe, This means that all remaining matter in the entire universe will cool to somewhere around absolute zero leaving it cold and dead. It's called entropy.
Hope that helps.

Truett's picture
Well said, MDHeyne.

Well said, MDHeyne.

Pijo's picture
Well, I am sitting on a chair

Well, I am sitting on a chair and the heat radiated from my ass is heating up the chair. Other parts of me radiate heat to the air in the room and my shirt. Was that a trick question?

Nyarlathotep's picture
LaMimada - "In physics, the

LaMimada - "In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant—it is said to be conserved and not dissipate."

Nothing about the conservation of energy says that energy won't dissipate/dilute. In fact it is almost guarenteed.
LaMimada - "Does it not suggest then that when we die, OUR energy does not dissipate?"

Not at all (see above), in fact you can bet your bottom dollar that it will dissipate because of thermodynamics/(law of large numbers).
LaMimada - "Now, where that energy goes or what it does no one knows."

It has been well known for more than 150 years.
The rest of your post is based on these demonstrably false assumptions; so no reason to go further.

Veronica Maur'er's picture
Supernatural occurrences have

Supernatural occurrences have nothing to do with religion or any kind of God. Just because you can not explain how something extraordinary happens, does not make it Religious. As humans we have many abilities that are obvious and attainable by anyone. Some abilities are more rare and therefore are deemed Supernatural or "Of the Devil" (as some Christians would say) Just because there is no God in the biblical sense does not mean that we are powerless animals. Quantum Physics proves that we are vibrational beings and that we can alter our own vibrations or affect things outside of our physical shape. Look up the 'Double Slit Experiment" Look up 'Fred Allen Wolf'. Lack of God does not mean the the universe is empty or un-exciting.
Namaste brothers and sisters

Birthe's picture
I allegedly had a strange

I allegedly had a strange experience as a child. Though I do not remember it myself, my parents talked about it for some time after the event and so I rememeber it the way they described it.
I was very young, maybe 3 or 4 years old.
We had travelled to a town. I'm not sure why, but I believe it was due to my father having been to, or going to a military repetition camp.
I had never been in that town, not ever.
Still I could tell my parents, several times, what was behind the next corner.
And when I failed once, my parents asked a person we met what used to be where that new building was standing, I had named the previous building.
I can't explain it using the science I know.

phetaroi's picture
I had a somewhat similar

I had a somewhat similar situation in Thailand. I had traveled north from Bangkok to Lopburi, one of the more historic ancient cities. When I got off the train I took out my map, and as a former geography minor, I'm very good at maps. I stopped at one temple that was adjacent to the train station. As I stood there I began to get a bit dizzy, and as I looked out over the temple, when I noticed the television antennas on the houses just beyond I thought, "They don't belong there". I checked my map for the next temple to see. It became very clear, very quickly that the map was all wrong and totally useless. BTW, Lopburi was no tiny village. The village proper had a population of over 25,000. I just began walking...straight to the next site I wanted to visit. Then straight to the old palace...and the next site. I saw all the sites I wanted to visit over the course of the day...without every consulting another map, without ever asking directions. I just seemed to know where to go next, which streets and lanes to walk down. At the end of the afternoon, once I got back on the train, as we pulled out of Lopburi my slight dizziness, which had bothered me all day, completely disappeared.

It isn't the only "odd" thing I've experienced, particularly in different places in Thailand, but sometimes also here in the States.

Rakshit's picture
I asked my father once. That

I asked my father once. That I don't believe in god but i feel scared in dark and while watching horror movies. Does that mean there are ghosts but no god?
He said, "This world is balanced with good and bad. If there are ghosts then there has to be a god becuase ghosts are symbol of bad things and god is a symbol of good things. But you should take the way you like it."
Hope this helps.

chimp3's picture
I do believe that posts long

I do believe that posts long dead can become zombies and walk the earth again. It's the Necropost Apocalypse!!!!

Tony S's picture
This is why I prefer the word

This is why I prefer the word paranormal rather than supernatural. Paranormal means "other than normal", and the connotation is not religious or spiritual, just unexplained. I have been part of a paranormal group, ghost hunting, trying to collect evidence rather than anecdotes.

MCD's picture
IMO it makes you someone who

IMO it makes you someone who does not believe in gods because there is no good evidence to support that belief who at the same time believes that other --as yet undefined-- implausible things are true.

Skunkmelon's picture
I always tell people I'm an

I always tell people I'm an Atheist Pagan Eclectic (APE). If they ask, I say I don't believe in any gods or supernatural things, but I find a lot of satisfaction and peace in pagan ways of thinking. I add eclectic because it's a mishmash of what I like and a rejection of what I don't--which is how most people operate, whether they believe it of themselves or not. (And also, because for me, APE pokes at the young earthers.)

JustSaying's picture
Belief in a god means there

Belief in a god means there is a almighty power that created the universe and somehow still cares if we are gay, masturbate or lie. Belief that there are supernatural or paranormal events does not equate to believing in a god. That equates to not understanding what we see or perceive, yet.

If you go back in time, and were able to find an atheist before so many of our scientific inventions we take for granted today were invented, another atheist might claim you were not a true atheist if you believed in bacteria or viruses that caused illness or the ability to generate light without fire or wagons moving without horses, etc. Many supernatural or paranormal events may actually be true but we have not yet found a way to prove or duplicate them. I think people who attack other atheists for believing in other supernatural or paranormal events are just arrogant bullies. I personally believe that there are aliens out there and I believe earth has been visited by them. I have no proof and I don't let it guide my life or actions, but I believe it's true without absolute evidence.

So don't feel bad if you believe in ghosts or something else, your willingness to say there is no god is good enough for most other atheists.

Hovitose's picture
Good post. I agree with

Good post. I agree with pretty much everything you say. I struggle with supernatural beliefs, I can't take them seriously. Clearly there is much we don't understand but I reckon science will provide answers if we stick around long enough. It also seems illogical to me to reject the possibility of intelligent life forms elsewhere in the Universe. I'm not an arrogant bully though!

Ron's picture
I too have a tendency to

I too have a tendency to border on pagan beliefs, but to me there is nothing supernatural or paranormaö about it. It is a belief, no conviction, that there are many natural powers and fenomenon out there we have yet to understand.
"Ghost" probably is a word with an incorrect meaning for most, maybe energetic representations might be better? I have felt them, I have seen them as do certain members of my family.
Who is to say we do not live in a multidimensional world, that science has yet to prove? And maybe there are gateways between our and others, through which we can perceive "things". Besides that it is a fact that the human species has far less sensitivity or even a complete absence when it comes to certain senses. That's why animals perceive more than we do for instance.
We humans with our very limited brain- and sensory capabilities should be cautious ridiculing anyone mentioning anything that defies our "logic". There is more out there than we know, even without deities and made up stories for power and control.

King wizard's picture
So, my question is, what

So, my question is, what beliefs do you have that fall under buddhist and new age? Are you sure that they are identical to that belief? And if so, maybe you just agree with some of their beliefs because that is what seems right to you. What seems right to you comes from how your raised how you react to situations ect.

slave2theman's picture
I have trouble with the term

I have trouble with the term supernatural. The universe is full of things which defy explanation but this is not the same as being beyond nature. It just means that we currently lack the knowledge or ability to provide the explanation. Belief that things can happen outside of a natural universe is how all religions start.

ShaMan's picture
Religion & mysticism are 2

Religion & mysticism are 2 sides of the same coin. Both can be self-induced. I prefer the Naturalism position.

Angie's picture
Analytical atheist I am. But

Analytical atheist I am. But I do remember my Shakespeare. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Cognostic's picture
All you need do is define

All you need do is define "supernatural." Or try clearly stating your beliefs in this "supernatural" whatever it is.. You vaguely talk about your beliefs. Why not just state, " I am an atheist who believes in the Buddhist idea of Karma" or "rebirth." None of this garbage will hold up against rational inquiry. The simplest way to expose the fallacious nature of any supernatural or mystical belief is to simply look at it critically.

delonscott's picture
I would tend to agree. But I

I would tend to agree. But I think the word 'supernatural' is a word that deosn't make sense because anything that observed or experienced in the world is part of the same world. We humans use words like natural and supernatural as concepts that break the world into two. But is reality like this? I think there is just the world and we tend to delude ourselves.

Perhaps an experience of a ghost or a god or a voice that guides our life is possibly a delusion? Is that possible? Is it possible that our minds can trick us? After all, our perceived reality is really a construct of our mind right? Could something go wrong and cause us to be mistaken in our perception? I suppose it might be possible. And yet the concept of the 'supernatural' is also logically understandable.

According to a strictly materialist view of how the universe works, there should be no place for consciousness or experiential qualia. There is nothing in the observation of matter that suggests matter could be experiencing anything. A brain for example, is just matter. There is no explanation for how an internal experience could accompany its processing of information any more than a common calculator.(see the hard problem of consciousness)

If you claim, as many do, that its a matter of complexity of neurons that gives rise to consciousness then how does it happen? Why? When? There is no explanation. None. Not even a place to start because we cant get 'behind' consciousness to observe it objectively.

And what about simple slime mold? Slime mold has no brain or nervous system and yet it exhibits complex cognition! What about plants? Cells? Molecules? They all exhibit signs of awareness. Are they conscious? How can we know? We cant even know others outside of ourselves are conscious! All we have is the correlations. Yest we know we are conscious. Is this 'supernatural'/

So I think that consciousness itself is one of those unexplained' or at least inexplicable, realities of our strange universe. And this opens up many philosophical possibilities that we intuitively call crazy.


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Cognostic's picture
There is nothing logically

There is nothing logically understandable about supernatural. Experience a ghost and all you have is your experience of a ghost. Calling it supernatural does nothing at all to explain or identify it. What really happened is that you thought you saw a ghost, you can not do it again, and you actually have no idea at all what happened, "I don't know" is not what you mean when you say "supernatural" but if you look at it realistically, it is the only actual definition you can logically use.

The existence of a none corporal invisible unintelligible being is no different than nothing at all.


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