Can an atheist believe in spirits

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Giov787's picture
Can an atheist believe in spirits

So as you guys already know, I celebrate a holiday known as day of the dead, a holiday of remembering past lives. So before I want to start this discussion, one thing I want to throw out there is the reason i use religious iconography on day of the dead even though I'm atheist is because, symbolism, and decoration. To put it in to context, let's say a person loves Greek mythology, and they get a statue of a Greek god. They are not worshippers of that god just cause they have a statue of it, they just like it cause it's cool. Same with Buddha statues. People who are peaceful like to have one around because of its symbolism, they may or may not be a Buddhist, but that's not stopping them from having a statue. Any way, getting back to the original topic of this discussion, can I believe in spirits? In the holiday it is believed that spirits of loved ones return home, and spend time at the altars made for them. I believe in this, and I believe my grandmother spends time with me and I'm happy. I know some might say I'm delusional, but I don't think so. So anyway, is believing in spirits good? Even if the evidence is vague?

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Randomhero1982's picture
An Atheist is simply a person

An Atheist is simply a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods...

I therefore think there is NO literal correlation, but I would imagine most atheist tend to be skeptic or free thinkers and would to agree that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

So with that I personally think it nonsense, bit if it makes people happy I say go for it! Just keep it separate from education and the political spectrum.

Giov787's picture
Agreed, I still believe in

Agreed, I still believe in evolution and all forms of science, however I just happen to believe in life forces

Lee Wallace's picture
Yes - there are atheists that

Yes - there are atheists that believe in spirits. This is possible as atheism only relates to the lack of belief in god. The spirit I favour is a Glendronach single malt!

CyberLN's picture
A Speyside man then, eh?

A Speyside man then, eh?

Lee Wallace's picture
Close - a Highland Malt!

Close - a Highland Malt!

Giov787's picture


LogicFTW's picture
As others have said, there

As others have said, there are plenty of atheist that believe in spirits. Plenty of atheist that have religious icons, statues, carvings or what not. I take part in christmas even though I do not believe in any god.

"Is believing in spirits good?"

In my opinion, that depends. I think most of the time it does not really matter much. Sometimes, (perhaps your case.) believing in your grandmothers spirit and that she is close to you on that day can be good, it can make you feel closer to the one you lost, and perhaps make you feel better. There are other situations where a person can get obsessed with spirits and spend far too much of their time and resources, to their own ultimate detriment.

Me personally I do not believe in spirits. I believe it is possible, (although remote,) we have some sort of light, nearly completely undetectable connection to all things that can leave traces of their past state behind in non obvious physical ways, that science has not yet been able to measure. But you certainly won't be anything like speaking to a lost family member's spirit on a particular day of earth's rotation around the sun. But perhaps some sort of presence that a part of our mind is vaguely aware of, a previous state of something we were very close to that science has not yet discovered.

CyberLN's picture
Perhaps folks who have been

Perhaps folks who have been raised in a religion, having been taught that there are woowoogawd answers to questions, end up doing it by rote. Despite exiting a belief in gawds, they are simply in the habit of relying on woowoo answers to that which is still mysterious. Ergo, there are atheists who believe in ghosts, ancient alien visitors, yeti, Nessie, etc.

chimp3's picture
I think we had beliefs in

I think we had beliefs in spirits before beliefs in gods. No evidence for this but dreaming is common to us all. Dreaming of a dead ancestor or your own self being in another time/location could engender such beliefs.

Giov787's picture


Yes, thanks for making that statement, anyway i keep an altar dedicated to her throughout the whole year, but it's when day of the dead rolls along where I get creative and decorate the altar. When it's not day of the dead, I just keep a photo of her with the words "vivirás siempre en nuestros corazones", spanish for you'll forever in our hearts. I keep a palm next to the photo I got from Palm Sunday along with a palm cross, (from my religious days of course) a virgin of guadalupe candle, which I only burn on day of the dead as a remembrance of her life, I leave it on until it dies off naturally, and I put symbolic meaning to the candle. When the festivals start, October 31st, I light the candle. Once the festivals stop, November 2nd, it will have run out, symbolizing how she passed away. I choose to get one with virgin of guadalupe for cultural reasons. And That's basically it guys.

Daniel's picture
An atheist can believe

An atheist can believe whatever he or she wants, as long as it isn't a god or gods. But if you are searching for what is real or true, then there are some limits. I'm minutely open to the tiny chance of there being spirits, but I can't "believe" because I base my beliefs on sound logic, reasoning, and evidence. It's possible, but to believe?

Randomhero1982's picture
As the other have said,

As the other have said, believe whatever you like providing you don't force it on other.. that's when you require burden of proof.

But as it is, I believe in spirits! In fact I spent the evening with one called Jack Daniels. ;)


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Giov787's picture
Uh heh GOTTA BLAST! *dashes

Uh heh GOTTA BLAST! *dashes out of solar system*. Lol good one though

Pitar's picture
Hobbies. Good to have them. I

Hobbies. Good to have them. I was once part of a club. Our mantra was "Peace is our profession. War is just a hobby". That club was the Strategic Air Command of the U.S. Air Force. We flew nuclear bombers anywhere there were open invitations for total annihilation, which was the service we provided. Yep, every day, all day, we flew up and down the Russian border just outside their air space ready to penetrate it at any moment and, well, it was a hobby. Look at it this way - we could have provided you more avenues to practice your own hobby. After that, I couldn't find much else that gave the same adrenaline rush so I decided to quiet my primordial barbarism by playing music, which is said to sooth the savage breast. So far so good. Everyone needs a hobby.

Giov787's picture
Ok let me explain something

Ok let me explain something to everyone. I don't necessarily believe in "spirits", at least, not the standard definition of it anyway. Here is what exactly I mean. I believe that spirits are energies not yet explained by science, yet they still exist. They are an energy, simply put, energy, from a previous life force. You see I don't totally believe in ghosts, but at the same time I don't think there isn't a possibility. I struggle with this topic every time day of the dead comes along. On my ofrenda I put food and other things the person enjoyed in life. Is my grandmother really there? I don't know. If she is, well then I'd be really happy. If she isn't, well, I'd like to think she is there, even if I know she is not. But we can't totally prove ghosts exist, the evidence present is either vague or unacceptable by skeptics. But at the same time we cant totally debunk them as myths either. With gods it's different, there is literally little to no evidence at all to their existence. So do I believe in spirits? To an extent. Do I like to think my grandmother is really present, even if she is not. Yes, because although she may not be physically present, her memory and live is. But If she is there as a spirit? I may never know, but until I'm proven wrong, I will continue to believe she is.

Randomhero1982's picture
They can indeed be debunked

They can indeed be debunked by skeptic, free thinkers, atheists etc... IF they are asserted as a claim.

For example, the moment says this is a fact or you can't disprove this... equally means, you have made an assertion/claim.

You then have the burden of proof, and as it's an exceptional claim it would require exceptional evidence and if not, then as per Hitchens Razor "it can dismissed with no evidence, if none is presented for the case".

But as I said before, there's nothing wrong with it providing it's not forced upon people and doesn't cause any immoral actions.

Personally I would say it is similar to religion in that people cling on desperately, because they fear the nothingness of death.

Giov787's picture
I actually don't fear death,

I actually don't fear death, I know there is a possibility that no existence after death is possible, and I'm totally ok with that, in fact I would want that to happen, because the thought of being alive FOREVER is scary, I would rather die. And if spirits do exist and we become them after we die? Well technically spirits are still matter so if this world dies off I'm pretty sure they would too.

Giov787's picture
And I mean there is too many

And I mean there is too many cases from around the world, some that can't be debunked by skeptics, that it's safe to think their might be a slim possibility. And look I might not be "real" atheist or might be believing In a "rumor", but until ghosts and spirits are officially debunked as myths by science, then I'm entitled to my beliefs.

CyberLN's picture
If you are choosing to accept

If you are choosing to accept the possibility of ghosts and spirits because they cannot be disproved/ debunked, then you are in for having to accept fairies, big foot, Nessie, unicorns, dragons, et al, for the same reason. If you do not do so, then it would seem the discrimination is because you WANT spirits/ ghosts to be real, not because you think they actually might be.

Giov787's picture
... your right, I want to

... your right, I want to think that ghosts are real, I want to feel like my grandmother or anyone else from my family that's dead is around me. Are they, now I'm not so sure, but there is still a possibility and if there is I'm going to take it damn it.

Giov787's picture
And if it turns out ghosts

And if it turns out ghosts aren't real, well then technically no harm is done to me, because I pretty much believe in science and atheism and all that, but the only thing, I believe in spirits, that's it.

algebe's picture
Have you looked at the

Have you looked at the history of parapsychology research at Duke University and the Rhine Research Center? They've been studying ESP and spiritualism since the 1930s, but I don't think they've found any testable scientific evidence of either so far.

"no harm is done to me"

But there are some pretty nasty sharks swimming in those waters. Watch out for fake mediums and frauds out to scam the bereaved.

Giov787's picture
I honestly don't believe in

I honestly don't believe in mediums, I don't think a normal human can get into contact with a apparition of energy

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