Tag Archives: Ghosts

Hot-Road Water Ghosts

Dark_FigureSometimes, for fun, I share some of my ghost experiences with people.

Here are some I have shared on this blog:

After I share these stories, people will often incredulously ask me, “How can you have these experiences and not believe in ghosts?”

To which I sometimes reply:
Water_Mirage

During summers, I have driven down long, hot roads and have occasionally seen large puddles of water span the road ahead of me. But when I get to the puddle, they mysteriously disappear. Have you ever had an eerie, supernatural experience like this?

You see, I don’t believe these common hallucinations are actually supernatural at all, but I won’t deny that I have indeed had these unusual experiences.

Mind you, if someone could prove to me that I have really seen ghosts, I’d be fascinated and change my opinion. But the reason I don’t believe in the ghosts I have experienced, is because of my intense distrust of my (and your) human brain. 🙂

Question to readers: Have you had any weird experiences you don’t believe in?

triangle_end_tiny

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ghosts: An Atheist Touchstone

ArchimedesArchimedes (circa 200s BCE) jumped out of his bath and ran through his Greek city naked screaming, “I found it! I understand!” when he realized that by using water displacement, he could figure out the volume of a highly irregularly shaped object — in this case, the King’s new crown. Now knowing the crown’s volume he could divide by its weight and then calculate the crown’s density to see if it was truly made of gold or was fake — a mission given to him by the king who did not want to cut open the crown to find out. Good thing he did, the crown was authentic.

Even when gold is right on the surface, it is useful to test its purity. In Archimedes times, and for millennia prior, people did this with a stone called a “touchstone”. The stone, made of slate or certain other rocks, had a fine grain dark surface that would clearly display a shiny visible trace of soft metals when rubbed against it. These traces would have different colors and thus a sample could be compared to other samples to find out its metal’s purity.

Touchstone

The word “touchstone” is also used metaphorically to mean an intellectual method to expose the validity of a concept. In today’s post I am going to use “ghosts” as a touchstone to expose different sorts of atheists.

I have written previous posts sharing some of my personal experiences with ghosts:

Recently I put down one of our three dogs — he was 17 years-old, senile, scared and sick. I saw his ghost around our house for a couple of weeks.

Japanese Footless GhostAre ghosts real? I don’t know. I’ve had ghost experiences and I’ve heard things hard to explain, but I tend to think there is no such thing. But if you read my post of “Traffic Light Epistemology” and “Many Selves“, you can see why I am OK not being definitive on the issue.  You’d think someone with my experiences would tend to say they believe in ghosts, but I have lots of other experiences point to natural explanations.  One experience is the fact that different countries tell different stories about their ghosts.  Japanese ghosts, for instance, are famous for not having feet. The cultural limitations to ghosts point to their mentally contrived nature.

For those interested, I’d like to share a superb article I read in the London Review of Books entitled “Ghosts of the Tsunami” by Richard Parry — a British journalist/author specializing in East Asia. It is a long article but full of great ghost stories he heard concerning the possession of apparently normal people by the ghosts of those killed in the Japanese tsunami of 2011.  The story speaks of a priest who removes these possessing ghosts and helps them move on “to the light”.  Similar youtube stories can be found concerning 911 victims ghosts. Is there non-ghost ways to explain these stories — I am pretty sure there are.

Some Atheists believe in ghosts, some don’t. Some atheists want the word “atheist” to mean non-belief in anything supernatural, not just non-belief in theist-god(s). As my readers know, I could care less about fixing definitions, but I do care about the ideas behind them.  I’m OK with a large variety of Atheists. Heck, Christians come in large varieties too.

One thing that stops people from understanding each others beliefs, is lack of experience. I understand smokers, because I still miss chewing and smoking tobacco, even though I know they are bad for me. Likewise, I totally understand people who see ghosts, because I have seen them — even as an atheist I have seen them.

I think atheists who have had “supernatural” experiences are less prone to call religious people “deluded” than atheists who have had weird experiences. Yesterday I had an argument with John Loftus at his blog, Debunking Christianity, where in his comments he claimed “I think Christians are all deluded since faith is always irrational.”

“Deluded” is a favorite word of many atheists — it is a malady which they feel that they themselves are totally free of.  But try to show them that they are highly mistaken or deluded, and they hunker down to preserve their rhetoric.  They love to use the accusation of “deluded” in their hyper-rational atheism, and they won’t give it up!

Apparently about 18% of Americans feel they have seen or been in the presence of a ghost — these include both Atheists and Christians. Are all of those folk (myself included) wackos? Naive? Deluded? Mistaken? or in touch with the other world?

Ghosts can be a touchstone for atheists. Those atheists who have seen ghosts or had mystical experiences generally view religious folks very differently than atheists who have led a life without these experiences. Is that surprising? No, I think not. Is it surprising that many ghost-seeing atheists don’t believe in ghosts, or that many atheists who formerly talked to Jesus now feel those personal conversations were simply a contrivance of their brain? No, I think not. But such facts often startle believers. Believers wonder for how anyone can have such amazing experiences and later deny them. But the point is, folks like me don’t deny the experiences, we just question our past interpretations.

Please do read the article on Japan ghosts if you have time. I wonder how Christians would explain how a Japanese Buddhist priest is able to successfully get ghosts out of people by chanting the Heart Sutra and sprinkling holy water when these Christians consider their Sutra as nonsense and their water as not holy. Maybe because ghosts are ghosts and everyone’s religious explanation is wrong. And atheists who think these folks are deluded, seem fated to not understand.

This post is not meant to debate the reality of ghosts. It is not meant to argue definitions. Instead, I am hoping to illustrate how we often think, feel, categorize based on our experiences and not just based on pure reason.

34 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

What scared you as a kid?

I didn’t have any apocalyptic scary religious stories to give me night terrors when I was a kid.  Even as a Christian adult they never seemed potentially real enough to me — gee, maybe I didn’t have enough faith.

But anyway, I had plenty of non-religious fears. Below are mine. What are yours?

  • Headless Hattie: a horrible ghost story by YMCA camp counselors
  • Russian Nuclear Bombs: the 50s and 60s were scary like that.
  • The Basement:  I always had to run up the basement stairs quickly looking behind myself, because that is when the basement monster would get you.
  • The Attic: we were told that if we went up to the attic at my friend’s house, we could fall through the floor to our deaths.
  • The Dark:  I slept with the light on for a long time.
  • The Pit: A black plastic dipping tank at my Dad’s factory.  He warned us that if we fell in it, we’d disappear to the bottom and suffocate.
  • The Portrait:  At grandma’s big, old house there was a huge head portrait of my dead great-great grandfather in the bedroom we had to sleep in.

I wonder what my kids are adding to their lists.

16 Comments

Filed under Events

My Mother’s Ghost

garden_darkMy mother was a gentle, thoughtful, well-loved third grade teacher.  She had divorced my father and had lived alone in a condominium with a small courtyard.  My mother had became very sullen and isolated in her last few years and at 54 years-old she had a re-occurrence of her breast cancer.  Fortunately I was able to come back from Japan and be with her during her last 6 weeks.  I stayed in her hospital room 24 hours a day, sleeping in the chair next to her bed.  But every few days, during those 6 weeks, I would go back to her condominium, collect her mail and water her plants.  And after my mother passed away I stayed in that condominium for 3 weeks taking care of final details.

One evening, just after sun set, two weeks after her death, I was feeling a little sad about my mother when I saw something, through the corner of my eye, moving in the court yard.  I looked out the large glass door window and saw my mother in her favorite bathrobe walking through the garden looking down at her plants.  She walked peacefully and reflectively.  Our eyes did not meet.  And of course, to say the least, the apparition startled me, and within less than a second after the startle, her image faded and I sat there doubting my sanity.  Her image in the garden would be a far better last memory than that of her last hours in the hospital.  I am thankful.

_________
NoteSee my other Supernatural Experiences here

8 Comments

Filed under Events, Personal