I’m probably something of an oddity when it comes to being an atheist. I don’t believe in the God I came to know growing up as a Catholic and I don’t believe in any other God from any other religion. I don’t believe in an unknown higher power and I don’t believe that we were put here for some incredible reason that is meant to make our lives more meaningful. I believe Jesus existed but I don’t believe that He was the son of a God and that he rose from the dead after being crucified. I believe every answer for the question of why we are here and how we were created can be answered scientifically. Yet for some reason, I do believe in the supernatural to some extent.
I don’t buy into the idea that every single one of us will become a spirit after the last breath of air leaves our body, or that we are reincarnated and able to live on in another form. It’s more of a belief that sometimes, a part of us is left behind when we pass. Ghosts and hauntings were always a fun part of my childhood, mostly due to movies and television shows that I enjoyed. Back when I believed in heaven and hell, I believed that any spirit not bound for one of those locations was doomed to walk the Earth as a ghost until they figured it out. As I grew up and my beliefs changed, I abandoned that idea of ghosts in favor of one that fit the things I have seen and experienced.
I worked at a restaurant where an 18 year old boy had died while attempting to get high using the soda machine’s CO2 tank. I had no idea this occurred until one afternoon when an older employee freaked out after yet another of us girls found ourselves locked in the supply room behind a door that had no lock on it. On a regular basis, the supply room door would show complete disregard for the door stop and the lack of a lock and slam on us, locking us in. We used to joke about a supply room ghost, but I never gave much thought to it or the random items that would fall from the shelves until the older employee told us that the young boy had died in that room and she believed that his playful spirit was still around. She would never go into that room herself.
Was it a ghost? I have no idea. But it could have been. There was never a reason for the door to slam, no reason for a door with no lock to become locked to the person on the inside, and never a reason for items to fall from the shelves. I didn’t view these events with the serious thought that a spirit could be responsible, just as I didn’t give serious thought to the idea that one of my college dorms was haunted or that my high school gym had a live-in ghost. Since having an experience that I cannot explain, I became very curious and did a lot of research to see if there truly was something to it or if I was just allowing myself to become part of a joke.
I’m not going to give you a list of scientific explanations that give credibility to the existence of the supernatural because you either believe or you don’t. It’s not my place to try to convince you and I’m not attempting to start a debate about whether or not a ghost could exist. I’ve just noticed lately that atheism doesn’t really fit with belief in the supernatural. And I don’t see why that has to be. Most atheists like to throw facts and evidence in the face of religious folk, knowing they cannot counter because you cannot show concrete and irrefutable evidence of a God. My belief that something supernatural could exist, be it spirits or simply residual energy, can be backed up by scientific evidence which is why I see some credibility in it. Religion has nothing to do with it.
For me, being an atheist means I don’t have a set of rules regarding my belief system. I don’t have a God, I don’t have rules about how I spend my Sunday, and I live by a moral code rather than worrying about what counts as a sin and what is acceptable. But even if I wanted to be an atheist who believes that people are sometimes reincarnated as dogs, I fail to see how that is an issue and how that contradicts my lack of belief in God. I don’t identify as an atheist because I want to fit a specific mold, I identify as one because I believe in no God whatsoever. That should have nothing to do with the rest of my life.
With vocal atheists like Ricky Gervais calling attention to the rest of us, atheism as a whole is being scrutinized more closely than it normally would. Perhaps this whole “atheists can’t believe in ghosts” argument is simply a way at poking holes in my lack of belief and trying to show me that belief in anything intangible means I should believe in God. It’s really the only explanation I can come up with for this nonsense. The bottom line is that I will give credibility to things that have earned it. The supernatural has earned it in my personal life and in the bits of research I’ve done. It’s as simple as that.