Atheism and the supernatural

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Atheist Hemant Mehta pointed out that there are atheists who: believe in ghosts, believe they have a soul, read tarot cards and read their horoscopes daily.[1]

Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is the denial of the existence of God.[2] Beginning in the latter portion of the 20th century and continuing beyond, many agnostics/atheists have argued that the definition of atheism should be defined as a mere lack of belief in God or gods. [3][4] [5] See also: Definition of atheism

Naturalism as a philosophical stance rejects the possibility of supernatural phenomena, describing such phenomena as misunderstood natural phenomena or falsehood. This preconception necessarily precludes the existence of God. See also: Atheism and evidence

Although all atheists indicate that they do not believe in the existence of God, as can be seen below, a significant portion of atheists do not strictly subscribe to the philosophy of naturalism. In addition, as can be seen below, there are a significant amount of atheists who believe in superstitious and absurd notions.

Atheists and belief in life after death

According to a study performed in the United States by researchers Wink and Scott, very religious people fear death the least.[6]

See: Atheism and death and Atheism and life after death

Although a majority of atheists do not believe in life after death due to holding to the worldview of naturalism, a significant number of atheists believe in life after death (see: Atheism and death).

The website Skeptics Guide indicates that a significant number of atheists and agnostics believe in life after death and the website reported:

A survey compiled in 2014 by The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture (AISFC) reveals that 32 percent of Americans who identified themselves as agnostics and atheists believe in an afterlife of some kind. In addition, 6 percent of the same non-theistic group expressed a belief in a “bodily resurrection”. These numbers were taken from a sample of 15,738 Americans, all of which were between the ages of 18 and 60. According to the data, 13.2 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheist, agnostic, or some other variation of non-believing.

I found these results to be quite surprising. Having been immersed in circles of atheists and agnostics for the past 20 years, the numbers revealed by this study are higher than I would have guessed, by quite a lot. What stands out the most is that 6% expressed a belief in resurrection. It could be a statistical anomaly of some sort (perhaps the respondents did not understand the question about bodily resurrection?) Why an atheist or agnostic would believe that a dead person could come back to life seems entirely contrary to their worldview.[7]

(Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture Study: Do people still believe in life after death?)

Atheists and fear of Hell

There are atheists who have a fear of Hell (see: Atheism and the fear of Hell).

Atheist philosopher of A.J. Ayer's near death experience

Michael Liccione wrote:

Most students of philosophy will recognize the name of A.J. Ayer, who died in 1989. An atheist, he was one of the best-known representatives of a school of thought known as “logical positivism,” which holds (among other things) that religious claims are meaningless because they are not empirically verifiable.

It’s therefore interesting to note that Ayer, a year before his own death, reported having a near-death experience...

“One of his doctors later claimed Ayer had confided to him, ‘I saw a Divine Being. I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise all my books and opinions.’"[8]

Atheism and miracles

See also: Atheism and miracles

In relation to atheism and miracles, modern scholars are divided on the issue of whether or not David Hume was an atheist.[9] With that caveat in mind, Hume is well known for arguing that it is always more probable that the testimony of a miracle is false than that the miracle occurred.[10] Christian apologists William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, C. S. Lewis, JP Holding, and others have shown the inadequacy and unreasonableness of Hume's position regarding miracles.[11]

Impossibly high standards are often set for miracles to be accepted including requirements such as multiple doctor's testimonies from before and after a medical miracle may have occurred along with x-rays and other confidential medical information being made public. When such evidence is produced it is simply stated to be inadequate or fraudulent. See also: Atheism and evidence

Bible believing Christianity and prayer

See also: Studies on prayer and Irreligion and recovery from illnesses and Atheism and cancer

The Christian Post reporter Stoyan Zaimov wrote:

Double-blind prayer experiments: where people pray for others with terminal illness. Habermas admitted that most such experiments have not worked, but the three that he knows of that have indeed worked were cases of orthodox-Christians praying for the sick.[12]

Habermas has also discussed documentations of miracle claims and referred to thousands of cases around the world of documented miracles, including those where medical doctors witness prayer healing people with severe physical disabilities.[13]

According to the American Cancer Society:

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69% of cancer patients say they pray for their health. A recent study published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, suggests a link between religious or spiritual beliefs and better physical health reported among patients with cancer.[14]

Atheists and belief in ghosts

The atheist Hemant Mehta is an author, popular atheist blogger, and atheist activist.

In a video entitled Yes, atheists CAN believe in ghosts, although Mehta disagrees with them, Mehta points out that there are atheists who believe in ghosts, believe they have a soul, read tarot cards and read their horoscopes daily.[15] According to Mehta, merely not believing in the existence of God, strictly speaking, does not close the door to other supernatural beliefs.[16]

Irreligion and superstition

The Wall Street Journal reported: "A comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows ...that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians."[17]

See also: Irreligion and superstition

In September 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported:

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians....

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.[18]

In 2015, Rodney Stark wrote in his book The Triumph of Faith: Why the World is More Religious Than Ever: "35 percent of the French believe in astrology, 35 percent of the Swiss agree that 'some fortune tellers really can foretell the future...""[19]}}

See also:

Atheists and belief in absurd atheistic beliefs

Atheist Victor J. Stenger wrote: "Assuming the universe came from nothing, it is empty to begin with…".[20]

The prominent evolutionist and geneticist Richard Lewontin admitted:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." [21]

Prominent atheists who claim the universe popped into existence from nothing

See also: Atheism and the origin of the universe

Atheist Stephen Hawking asserted: "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing".[22]

Although many atheists indicate that they do not know how the universe came into being, some prominent atheists claim that the universe came into existence from nothing.[23][24] See: Atheism and the origin of the universe

Atheist Stephen Hawking claims: "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing".[25] Hawking further claims that the universe “popped into existence without violating the known laws of Nature".[26]

The atheist philosopher Quinton Smith indicated “the most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing."[27]

Wayne Jackson wrote at the Christian Courier regarding Victor J. Stenger's hypothesis that the universe came from nothing:

First, in defiance of one of the most elementary principles of logic, the atheist suggests that “something” (e.g., the Universe) came from “nothing;” that zero plus zero equals something greater than zero.

Victor Stenger, an atheistic professor at the University of Hawaii, admits that “everyday experience and common sense” supports the concept that something cannot come from nothing. Nevertheless, he suggests that “common sense is often wrong, and our normal experiences are but a tiny fraction of reality” (26-27). If you want to be an atheist, you must put your “common sense” on the shelf![28]

The First Law of Thermodynamics and the Second Law of Thermodynamics point to the universe having a divine beginning.(See: Theistic implications of the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics).[29]

Evolution as a secular origins myth

See also: Evolution as a secular origins myth

Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics.[30]

Evolution is a secular origins myth of atheists, agnostics and members of other theologically liberal religious sects (theologically liberal religious sects often dismiss out of hand various supernatural events in history due to their hostility towards God and the supernatural). See also: Atheism is a religion

The atheist philosopher of science Michael Ruse said "Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today."[31]

The Canadian anthropologist Paul Gosselin wrote:

In the world of myth, miracles are commonplace and occur regularly. Much the same could be said of evolutionary myths of origins. Just like in the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and the Wolverine stories from the First Nations of North America, in the evolutionary origins myth one regularly encounters phenomena that are contrary to natural law and which have never been observed by any human. And the first of these miracles is abiogenesis, the transition from inert matter to living organisms, capable of reproducing themselves. But that is just the beginning. From there we go on to the transition from invertebrates to vertebrates, then there’s the transition from marine organisms, such as fish, to terrestrial organisms, the transition from reptiles to mammals, the transition from land mammals to marine mammals and then the transition from crawling reptiles to flying birds. But the greatest miracle of all? This is undoubtedly the appearance of functional genetic code and its chemical basis, DNA, and all this without the intervention of a Programmer. It is clear that miracles abound in the evolutionary origins myth. The faith of evolutionary believers is great, but for my part I have to admit lacking enough faith to believe in such miracles.[32]

Although he is not a creationist, the atheist philosopher John Gray admitted in 2008 in The Guardian:

A great deal of modern thought consists of secular myths - hollowed-out religious narratives translated into pseudo-science. Dennett's notion that new communications technologies will fundamentally alter the way human beings think is just such a myth.[33]

Evolutionary belief and critical thinking

Due to the widespread dissemination of evolutionary indoctrination, Creation Ministries International developed 15 questions that evolutionist cannot satisfactorily answer (see: 15 questions for evolutionists).

Evolutionary belief and gut feelings

In 2012, the science news website published a news article entitled Belief in Evolution Boils Down to a Gut Feeling which indicated that research suggests that gut feelings trumps facts when it comes to evolutionists believing in evolution.[34] In January 2012, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching published a study indicating that evolutionary belief is significantly based on gut feelings.[35][36] The January 20, 2012 article entitled Belief in Evolution Boils Down to a Gut Feeling published by the website Live Science wrote of the research: "They found that intuition had a significant impact on what the students accepted, no matter how much they knew and regardless of their religious beliefs."[37] Evolutionism is established in people through indoctrination and not evidence.

Invalid arguments that evolutionists should not use

Due to the existence of poor evolutionary arguments, leading creationist organizations have created lists of poor arguments that evolutionists should not use:

Ben Stein Interview with the Evolutionist Richard Dawkins

In the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein demonstrated the folly of evolutionism in his interview with the prominent evolutionist and agnostic Richard Dawkins.

The Discovery Institute provides an transcript of part of the interview along with some commentary:

BEN STEIN: "What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution?"

DAWKINS: "Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it's possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer."

Ho,ho! That is precisely what the Raelians say:

Years ago, everybody knew that the earth was flat. Everybody knew that the sun revolved around the earth. Today, everybody knows that life on earth is either the result of random evolution or the work of a supernatural God. Or is it? In "Message from the Designers", Rael presents us with a third option: that all life on earth was created by advanced scientists from another world.

Richard Dawkins and Rael; "clear thinking" kindred spirits![38]

In the Ben Stein/Richard Dawkins interview, Richard Dawkins was also asked what the probability is of God's existence is and a rationale for that estimation. Dawkins gave a very inept reply to Ben Stein concerning this issue.[39]

Irreligion, extraterrestial life, UFOlogy and other pseudoscience

See also: Irreligion and superstition and Atheism and deception

The notions of extraterrestrial life and UFOlogy are fast growing pseudoscientific religions which are perpetuated and/or aided by the ideologies of evolutionists, atheists, liberals and other promoters of quackery.[40][41] However, the ideologies of extraterrestrial life, UFOlogy, exobiology, evolution and abiogenesis are anti-biblical ideas which are not supported by sound science.[42][43]

The liberal and agnostic Carl Sagan, an avid smoker of marijuana who claimed that marijuana gave him scientific insights, was a prominent peddler of extraterrestrial life, evolution and other pseudoscientific nonsense. Sagan's agnosticism and scientism no doubt helped inspire Sagan's pseudoscientific fantasy that evolution was a "fact".[44]

Irreligious/atheistic France and the Soviet Union and UFOlogy

See also: Irreligion and superstition and Atheism and irrationality

On January 4, 2003, it was reported in the newspaper the Toledo Blade concerning the irreligious countries of the Soviet Union and France that "in countries with a high degree of occult activity such as Russia during the Soviet era, France, and certain parts of Brazil also had high percentages of UFO encounters. During Russia's Soviet period when every expression of religion except occult activity had been outlawed, he said, “Russians were seeing UFOs at five to eight times the rate Americans were."[45]

Christian and Library of Congress researcher's comments on extraterrestial life and UFOlogy

Christian apologists who reject naturalistic explanations of life such as the theory of evolution argue that difficult to explain UFOs are spiritual in nature and not amenable to naturalistic explanation.[46] Gary Bates of Creation Ministries International wrote a book entitled Alien Intrusion which gives a biblical Christian perspective on the unscientific notions of extraterrestrial life and UFUlogy.[47]

Lynn Cato, senior bibliographer for the library of Congress, created a 1600 entry on UFO bibliography for the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research. After a two-year investigation, in which she reviewed thousands of documents, Catoe stated:

A large part of the available UFO with subjects like mental telepathy, automatic writing and invisible entities...poltergeist manifestations and 'possession'....Many of the UFO reports now being published in the popular press recount alleged incidents that are strikingly similar to demonic possession and psychic phenomenon which have long been known to theologians and parapsychologists.[48][49]

See also


  1. Yes, atheists CAN believe in ghosts
  2. Multiple references:
  3. Day, Donn R. (2007). "Atheism - etymology".
  4. Definition of atheism by William Lane Craig
  5. Putting the Atheist on the Defensive by Kenneth R. Samples, Christian Research Institute Journal, Fall 1991, and Winter 1992, page 7.
  6. Fear of death: worst if you’re a little religious?, World of Science]
  7. Survey: 32% of Atheists & Agnostics Believe in an Afterlife
  8. [Atheist Philosopher Describes His Fascinating Near-Death Experience]
  9. Russell, Paul (Winter 2014). "Hume on religion". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website, Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Retrieved on May 24, 2015.
  10. Craig, Dr. William Lane, Ph. D. (1998). "Creation, providence, and miracle". Philosophy of Religion, Brian Davies (ed.) (Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press), pp. 136-162. Retrieved from LeaderU archive website on May 24, 2015.
  11. Multiple references:
  12. Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism by Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post, October 14, 2013
  13. Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
  14. Study: Cancer Patients with Strong Religious or Spiritual Beliefs Report Better Health, American Cancer Society
  15. Yes, atheists CAN believe in ghosts
  16. Yes, atheists CAN believe in ghosts
  18. Look Who's Irrational Now by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2008
  19. The Triumph of Faith: Why the World is More Religious Than Ever by Rodney Stark, Introduction section of the book
  20. “Atheists do not claim that nothing created everything.”
  22. Hawking atheopathy by Jonathan Sarfati
  23. Atheists Respond to my Challenge to Put Up or Shut Up! by Dr. Don Boys
  24. “Atheists do not claim that nothing created everything.”
  25. Hawking atheopathy by Jonathan Sarfati
  26. Atheists Respond to my Challenge to Put Up or Shut Up! by Dr. Don Boys
  27. Atheists Respond to my Challenge to Put Up or Shut Up! by Dr. Don Boys
  28. The Folly of Atheism by Wayne Jackson
  29. Ruse, M., How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post, pp. B1,B3,B7 May 13, 2000.
  30. Myths of Origin and the Theory of Evolution
  31. The atheist delusion, John Gray, The Guardian, Friday 14 March 2008
  32. Belief in Evolution Boils Down to a Gut Feeling by Live Science Staff, January 20, 2012 04:31pm ET
  33. Belief in Evolution Boils Down to a Gut Feeling
  34. Feeling of Certainty: Uncovering a Missing Link Between Knowledge and Acceptance of Evolution
  35. Belief in Evolution Boils Down to a Gut Feeling
  40. Did God create life on other planets?
  41. Origin of life - questions and answers
  43. Tarjanyi, Judy. "Astronomer links UFOs to Occultism." The Toledo Blade, January 4, 2003. Retrieved November 3, 2007.
  45. Authors unknown. "A UFO 2nd Coming." Let Us Reason Ministries, 2007. Retrieved November 3, 2007.
  46. Gleghorn, Michael. "UFO's and Alien Beings." Probe Ministries. Retrieved November 3, 2007.