Do You See Dead People?

I’ve always been conflicted when I think about whether or not ghosts exist.  As an atheist, I’ve never bought into the whole ‘life after death’ or ‘wandering soul’ thing.  Heaven seems like a nice idea, but it also seems kind of unlikely to me.  But if I don’t believe in heaven … how can I believe in ghosts?  In my mind, it’s a contradiction of uncertainty.  Maybe I’m sort of like the religious science teacher that teaches evolution but also believes that the world is only a few thousand years old.

When I was in my early teens, I experienced two different ‘ghostly’ episodes that I can’t explain.  Both were quick, and very well could have been dreams.  But they felt like more, and I’ve never forgotten them.

The first time it happened, I woke very suddenly in the middle of the night.  I sat up very quickly, much like Deanna Troi used to do every time she woke up on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  My eyes were drawn to the left, where I saw a man leisurely leaning against the wall of my bedroom.  He looked at me with a bored gaze.  He was dressed oddly, much like a hobo, and clutched a bottle of alcohol wrapped in a brown paper bag in his hand.  My heart beat quickly, and I whispered “go away, go away, go away, go away!”  I blinked a few times, and he was gone.

Not too long after that, I woke again in the middle of the night again.  Unlike the last time, I didn’t need to sit up like Troi.  This time there was a woman leaning over my bed, dressed in a wedding dress.  All the hairs on my body stood up, as I looked at her face.  She appeared to be overcome with both terror and sadness.  Again my heart raced, and without really thinking, I whispered “go away, go away, go away, go away!”   A moment later, she was gone.

Were these experiences merely dreams?  Was it some sort of night terror, or maybe some shadows playing a trick on me?  I’ll never know for sure.  But in the many years since they happened, nothing like that has happened since.  So what do you think?  Do you believe in ghosts?  And have you ever ever seen one?


8 thoughts on “Do You See Dead People?”

  1. I often wonder why a ghost would be wearing clothes. Shouldn’t ghosts be nude? Does clothing have its own ability to form haunting apparitions (and I’m not talking about bad a disco shirt from the 70s). Then, of course, one may wonder what age and physical condition a ghost may appear in. It would seem to me that if a ghost is a spiritual entity then there is really no need for anthropomorphic physical form at all. I suspect that ghosts would be more elemental in nature, perhaps more force than form. If ghosts exist, they may simply be echos in our own consciousness.

    I don’t think I have ever knowingly met a proper ghost.

    I tend to be a semi-deistic-agnostic. I think the concept of a creator is useful, but I don’t attempt to define the creator in anthropomorphic terms. I think of a creator as an unknowable source or origin of all that is. There is a bit of acknowledged infinite recursion in this thinking, because one can always keep looking at smaller and older entities. I don’t tend to believe in an active God that can be petitioned to change our world, though I recognize the meditative internal value or prayer. I readily admit this this world, and all others, are far more complicated than I can even begin to fathom.

  2. I have never encountered a ghost. Nor do I wish to.

    Chris D. – I love your comments. They are always so sincere and well thought out. Having said that, I love the idea of Disco ghost.

  3. Also as an atheist I don’t believe in ghosts because I think when you’re done, you’re done. I think the brain can conjure up the most amazing shit, especially when it’s in that spot between asleep and awake. I’ve not had any experiences that I would chalk up to being something ghostly.

    I also figure just because we don’t know what something is or why something happens doesn’t mean it’s paranormal or mystical. 500 years ago no one knew what earthquakes were. Thousands of years ago they though lightning was the god’s tossing around thunderbolts. So just because we don’t know now doesn’t mean in a hundred years there won’t be a perfectly logical explanation.

  4. “I sat up very quickly, much like Deanna Troi used to do every time she woke up on Star Trek: The Next Generation.” is the best sentence I’ve read on your blog ever. Ever.

    I believe in ghosts and heaven and all that. I think I saw my grandmother once, sitting in a chair across from me. She was stroking a cat. She had many cats in her life and loved them all. I totally believe it was her.

  5. I’m kinda the opposite: Believing in God, but not in ghosts. Go figure.

    Having said that, there was the time in my apartment when the little block of wood I had sitting on top of a box fan flew off and across the hallway a good 5 or 6 feet. With no wind or anything. And there was a woman who was living in the apartment when she was murdered (elsewhere, not in the apartment). Freaky. Who knows.


  6. I saw a ghost once in my grandparents’ house, in broad daylight. It was a solid form of a person walking past a doorway. I thought it was my baby brother, but he turned out to be outside and there was nobody else in that part of the house. When I was really young, I used to see two figures standing guard on either side of the door of rooms where I was sleeping. Didn’t matter where I was and they never did anything but stand there, but they used to freak me out.

    My parents never believed in ghosts until they moved into their current house. They’ve been there for 24 years now and there have been several sightings – blue light moving around in a room with no windows, little girl’s voice calling for “Papa”, woman in a gown running down the stairs and out the front door, and even my mom feeling someone grab and press on her leg (not aggressively, she didn’t think).

    I don’t have an explanation for any of it, but I think it could ghosts can still exist without the existence of God. Just like we do.

  7. Ghosts don’t exist. Not an atheist, but haven’t quite figured out my exact thoughts on a higher power or afterlife, but am not willing to say neither exist.

  8. I can’t say anything about phenomena people interpret as ghosts. However, I can say that ghost hunters are full of shit. How can anyone be so stupid as to see light reflecting off dust and declare that it is orbs of ghost energy?

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