Just in time for Halloween, a few days ago the New York Times had a story, "Many Americans Say They Believe in Ghosts. Do You?"
No, I don't. I also don't believe in God.
But lots of atheists do believe in paranormal phenomena, according to the story.
There are a number of different ways to quantify belief among Americans in so-called paranormal phenomena. One way is to ask a selection of people representative of the population if they believe in ghosts. In a 2019 IPSOS poll, 46 percent of respondents said they did.
Another is to ask what they fear. This year, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, about 9 percent of 1,035 adults surveyed said they feared ghosts, and the same amount said they feared zombies; many more people said they were afraid of government corruption, the coronavirus or widespread civil unrest.
The last time Gallup surveyed people about ghosts, in 2005, 32 percent of respondents said they believed in “ghosts or that spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations.” When Gallup asked the same question in 1990, the result was 25 percent.
Such beliefs have pervaded American culture and media for centuries. But some researchers are now studying whether their rise may be tied, in part, to the rise over the last few decades of Americans claiming no religious preference.
“People are looking to other things or nontraditional things to answer life’s big questions that don’t necessarily include religion,” said Thomas Mowen, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University.
For a continuing study on religion and paranormal belief, for example, Mr. Mowen said he is finding that “atheists tend to report higher belief in the paranormal than religious folk.”
So this shows that atheists are open to supernatural phenomena, even if God isn't part of them. Also, it shows that atheists can be as gullible as religious believers when it comes to accepting the existence of things that lack demonstrable evidence.
Last year, the share of Americans who belong to religious congregations fell below 50 percent for the first time in more than 80 years, according to a Gallup poll released in March. And the percent of people claiming no religion nearly tripled from 1978 to 2018, according to the General Social Survey.
Still, even as religious frameworks for thinking about the meaning of life and death have become less popular in the United States, the big existential questions inevitably remain.
The General Social Survey found that as religious affiliation declined over four decades, belief in the afterlife remained relatively steady: In 1978, about 70 percent of those surveyed believed in the afterlife, and about 74 percent reported the same in 2018.
As Joseph Baker, the co-author of the book “American Secularism: Cultural Contours of Nonreligious Belief Systems,” put it: “People are outside of organized religions, but they still have this supernatural interest.”
I've got no problem with that. People should be free to pursue whatever interests they want, so long as they don't hurt others in the process.
If believing in an afterlife makes someone feel better, great. Life can be tough. Whatever works for you, go for it -- again, if this doesn't harm anyone else.
I'd much prefer to go on living after I die than to be dead and gone forever. Well, if the afterlife was pleasant, not hellish.
It's just really hard for me to believe in life after death in my current state of mind, though during my 35 years of religiosity I had no problem believing in both reincarnation and the preferable alternative of existing as a non-physical being in some higher realm of reality.
Yet I never believed in ghosts. I'm not sure why. After all, if I thought back then that it was possible for me to live on after my physical death, why couldn't others do the same as ghosts?
I guess one problem I had with ghosts is that they inhabit a difficult to believe in-between zone. Ghosts are physical enough to be visible to ordinary humans, yet supernatural enough to pass through walls and do other spooky stuff.
This could explain why more people believe in God than in ghosts. Of course, God also has a credibility gap. Somehow God is a supernatural being who also is able to produce physical effects in this world. But if God is omnipotent, that's no problem for God.
Ghosts, on the other hand, aren't viewed as omnipotent. (If any ghosts disagree, you can come visit on this Halloween night and set me straight.)
Ghost of false dangerous education system is present in America and Britain. It all started when gang of thieves started modifying Sanskrit words and Sanskrit alphabet to create false English language. Only solution of this is Osho's Conscious Mind way of life. People with weak imagination can not create conscious memory. They should use power point slides to guide their memory while speaking. These two are the only methods available to tackle false education system based on unconscious mind.
Posted by: Vinny | October 31, 2021 at 10:48 PM
If you understand that each of us carries the personas of those we have known, constructed by the psyche, it's easy to understand how the presence of others can persist long after their corporeal life has ended. Just as the sensations of limbs can persist long after an amputation. Those personas may be informed by information channels we have no knowledge of. They live in us. But as we do not understand what may inform them, or how the mind may change them, we cannot be sure of their source.
However they are very real experiences.
To the extent we calm the mind and learn to distinguish internal experiences from external we can filter most of that out. But what if those that persist?
Perhaps the question we can ask ourselves is, what purpose does this serve, or can this serve in my own personal progress?
If that persona is the concrete expression of something intangible or subconscious within us, it may be helpful to strike up a conversation now and then.
We need not fear them at all, whether angels or demons. They are from us and a part of us. We may not have created them, but they are part of us and we, part of them.
Mi Casa Su Casa!
Posted by: Spence Tepper | November 01, 2021 at 08:15 AM
I believe in ghosts because I've literally seen them with my own eyes. It actually happened not too long ago, and a lot of the details of the story aren't important. But the funny thing is that the popular idea of what a ghost would like like is actually very accurate. The ghost I saw looked like what you'd expect -- a shockingly pale visage and a spectral body that ambled in what I can only describe as a peculiarly disembodied fashion, and which radiated an aura of danger. I won't lie. This person, or thing, or whatever it was scared the living hell out of me. I was frozen with fear and at a total loss of what to do, but I guess on some kind of instinct or divine inspiration I began doing simran of some strange mystic syllables that inexplicably arose in my consciousness as a method of exorcism: "letsgobrandonletsgobrandonletsgobrandon"
Posted by: Tendzin | November 01, 2021 at 07:40 PM
Er ... You serious, Tendzin? Difficult to say!
No judgment. I mean, if you were in earnest, that's the end of it, as far as I'm concerned, no further analysis et cetera. And if you're joking, then ... good one, you took us in (or at least, you took *me* in). Either way, I'm curious, just generally idly curious, whether you meant that in earnest.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | November 01, 2021 at 11:54 PM
"Atheists more likely to believe in paranormal than religious people"
.......Not that it matters --- I mean, if that's how it is, that's how it is, why not --- but I doubt that very much. Before actually concluding/believing that "atheists are more likely to believe in paranormal than religious people" I think we need to look more closely at the study itself.
Here's why I'm skeptical that the study would actually come to that conclusion:
(1) It seems to conflate not being part of some (mainstream?) religious affiliation as atheism. Not the same thing, at all.
(2) How are they defining "paranormal"? God itself is a paranormal concept (at any rate, a God that interacts with us, even if maybe not an abstract deist God). So that all of those who actually believe in Catholicism, and most varieties of Protestant denominations and all kinds of Islam, and most subcategories of Hinduism, and Judaism as well, most de facto varieities of Buddhism (with the possible exception of Zen --- I don't know enough about the on-the-ground in-practice beliefs that those who hold to Zen actually have to comment on it), all of these are by definition believers in the paranormal, simply by virtue of their religious faith, because the God they believe in and the way that God interacts with the world is itself, and by definition, paranormal.
(3) Quite apart from the God-belief itself, that I spoke of in #2 above, there are many religions that directly hold that ghosts and demons are suchlike are very much true and that is an essential part of their doctrine. Certainly Catholicism. Most certainly Islam as well. Absolutely, many kinds of Hinduism. Most assuredly Vajrayana Buddhism. Possibly the Shinto faith as well (although I'm not cent per cent sure, and cannot be bothered to check, but most probably). I'm sure some others as well, that I'm not able to recall of on the spur of the moment. Therefore those who actually do believe in these religions by definition believe in ghosts and spirits and demons and possession and suchlike.
Basis the above reasons I suggest that the study is unlikely to have actually and rigorously shown that "Atheists more likely to believe in paranormal than religious people".
Of course, the reasons I discuss here are only grounds for skepticism as far as the study and its purported conclusion, not actual evidence or proof. I don't much care one way or the other, makes no difference to me; but if at all anyone really cares about this, then I think a closer look into the details of the hows and wherefores of the study might be called for. I don't think one should jump to kneejerk conclusions of this kind so easily and so uncritically.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | November 02, 2021 at 12:14 AM
It is quite possible that we create beliefs in the paranormal, because we don’t like believing that the universe is accidental. As humans, it is comforting, even perhaps a psychologically necessity to believe – in something.
We are wired to look for meaning – is that a bear or a rock? So, whether through tricks of the light, shadows, our desires or state of mind at the time, it is natural to assign meaning and even a reality to experiences. Belief in the paranormal can also be a kind of shield from the harsh truths of the world.
To some extent we want to believe in something, whether it is ghosts, UFO’s – or that our elected leaders care about ‘me’ – or perhaps will simply improve our lives.
Can we live without beliefs? Maybe not totally. But perhaps it is possible to live in the reality we are presented with without superimposing our sometimes neurotic needs and thoughts upon it.
Posted by: Ron E. | November 02, 2021 at 08:28 AM
That's right, us humans are wired to recognize patterns. Which is great when there's actually real patterns, but then we end up doing that even when there's none, not really.
Here's two very common pattern-recognizing systems that are not religious at all, secular superstitions if you will, that we see all around us (and that many of us would have fallen prey to ourselves, at some point in our lives).
The first of the two I have in mind would be technical analysis. And the second would be technical analysis's twin in purple leather jacket, the 'systems' we so often end up following when we're at a casino or at the slot machines.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | November 02, 2021 at 10:17 AM
I would say the demons/ entities / aliens / ghosts / jins ...etc are very real indeed. They are controlled by the puppet master who take possession of narsasist beings like Gurinder Singh Dhillon and RSSB religion/ cult/ fake school of spirituality. What do you think initiation is ?
As soon as I started exposing GSD, I was attacked like clockwork. They hate exposure, and the fact that they are running a cloaked operation of love and light, a deception, when in reality it's the complete opposite - the devil himself. Be careful what you call and identify as spirituality as you may just get the shock of your life. Be careful being tempted by sound and light and trips around the universes of bliss by these so called entities to guide you. There are some very misguided individuals on this site who are RSSB agents that talk alot but have no real point, it's all confusion tactics - you have been warned
Posted by: Uchit | November 02, 2021 at 03:47 PM
Hah, Tendzin, just reread your curious comment one more time, and, yes, clearly you were joking! Didn't get that the first time I read it!
In my defense, you were mixing applies and oranges there, and I'd in any case entirely glossed over the actual content of your mantra itself. The last thing I expected, in that context, and given your tone in that comment, was that you'd bring up politics there! Which was kind of the point of your elaborate and somewhat cryptic joke, I suppose. Well played, cheers!
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | November 03, 2021 at 10:16 AM