Can atheists belive in ghosts?

Hi, haven’t posted in a while…

Anyway, I’m in quite a debate with a friend of mine over this technicality: Can atheists believe in ghosts and still be called atheists? Or would they be believing in something supernatural and therefore not be “pure” atheists, or what? What really defines an atheist? Thanks, and sorry if there’s already a thread that already covers this… :slight_smile:

AFAIK atheists merley don’t believe in God (a supreme being). No reason why atheists can’t believe in Ghosts if they want to or anything supposedly super-natural. I susspect you could believe the entire Cthulhu mythos and still be an atheist (maybe a crazy atheist ;)).
Cheers, Bippy

Atheism is generally defined as a lack of belief in God or gods. It doesn’t preclude a belief in other things supernatural. I’ve yet to meet an atheist who wasn’t also a skeptic, though, so I’ve never met one that believes in ghosts.

For loose definitions of ‘supernatural.’ An atheist who believed in ghosts would probably contend they were natural.

I am an athiest and I don’t see how not believing in God would prohibit a belief in manifestations of the “spirit” world. I would be far more likely to believe that we “change state” but not that that state results in a judgement and assignment to heaven or hell. If there is an “afterlife” AFAIK its just like here… we are born or move into it, we learn, we grow, we leave for something else eventually.

Atheists can believe in whatever they want too. However, it is being hypocritical. They don’t accept religion for the lack of proof, and this should hold true for any “super natural” situations. As an Atheist myself, I would never consider the possibility of a god, ghosts or aliens existing without undeniable proof.

“Can atheists belive in ghosts?”

Just not holy ones!!!

I’m kinda borderline. I have experienced a few things that many would percieved as “ghosts” but 2 out of those 3 experiences were when I was very tired and could have briefly dozed off and dreamed them before being startled awake by the dream. The third I can’t explain at all. Considering what I have experienced I seriously consider the possibility that there is more to our world than we can currently actively percieve/measure.

This information may seem a bit redundant at this point, but to reinforce what has already been said:

Santayana did not believe in God, yet wrote that the existence of the supernatural seemed, on the whole, probable to him.

There are sects within Hinduism and Buddhism which do not believe in the existence of a God or gods, yet believe in a human spirit which survives death, and which can sometimes manifest itself before the living.

So: not only can there be athiests who believe in ghosts, there are a good many of them.

The probability of an atheist (usually seeks proof not based on faith) believing in ghosts is low.

Well, you’re going to have to define ‘ghosts’, as it’s kind of a vague definition.

If you want to call them spirits from the other side, or lost souls, or evil paranormal presences, or anything religiously related, then I suppose they might not sit to well with atheism. But if you define them as some kind of natural phenomenon, or other dimensional echoes of past lives, or just as yet unexplained by science, then they’re not exactly a direct challenge to atheistic beliefs.

So my answer is yes, it’s possible.

That’s only true for atheists whose reason for being atheists is lack of proof.

You consider alien life forms in the same category as gods or ghosts? I’m an atheist, and I think there’s a better than even chance life exists elsewhere in the universe (not that they’re here doing anal probes, mind you).

Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I don’t see any inherent hypocracy in believing in the possibility of ghosts as a form of energy, or something like that.

Watch who you’re calling a hypocrite!.

Belief in ghosts and belief in a god are orthogonal, one has nothing to do with the other, so there need not be any hypocrisy involved. An atheist could believe in the supernatural just as easily as a Christian could disbelieve in ghosts (aside from THE ghost, which is not really what we’re talking about here).

Atheists do tend to be skeptics and if this is applied rigorously to religion and not to other topics, you could allege hypocrisy. However, a lot of people who believe in the supernatural are (or believe themselves to be) skeptics and feel they have seen adequate proof for their beliefs. There’s no reason a skeptical atheist couldn’t have experienced something which was adequate proof to justify their personal belief in ghosts.

I’m not trying to justify any beliefs, just pointing out that your blanket conclusion of hypocrisy is inaccurate.

I’m an example of of what micco was talking about. I consider myself an atheist, and I believe in ghosts.

This belief is based on a personal experience for which I haven’t come up with a better explanation. I of course have no explanation for what ghosts are like or how they work, so to speak, but that experience is enough for me to at least very seriously consider their existence. There is no reason to assume that a belief in ghosts is tied to a belief in a deity. The same goes for just about any other supernatural phenomenon (though I’m still skeptical about everything else besides ghosts).

I don’t believe in a god because I haven’t encountered any kind of evidence that I would find convincing. If I ever do, I’ll have no problem being a theist again.

Hardly. If you had actually scrutinized my thesis, you would have come to the realization that the obvious implication provided by my post attained only to Atheists who dismissed the notion of a God’s existence based on lack of evidence. (I did realize I neglected to refer to the minute population of Atheists who do not dismiss God based on lack of evidence. Since I can’t edit my posts, I fucked it.


We all “scutinized your thesis”, and we all disagreed with you. Somehow, we misread what you admittedly miswrote, but we should have understood what your post “implied”.


Why don’t you try simple declarative sentences? That way we can just read your opinion without the struggle of scrutinization.

Sorry, I’m just a little of posters who can’t back away and say “Oops, I was wrong”, and criticize the rest of us for not understanding while restating their point to mean something else.


Take me, for example. I’m an atheist, but I’m open to the possibility of ghosts. Though I tend to look at ghostly phenomena as potentially more of a “places have memories” thing than a “lost souls” thing.

Asked and answered.