Can an atheist believe in ghosts?

I thought atheism was the same as materialism. However, I once met an atheist who said he believed in ghosts because he saw one. Secondly, I met a man who said he believed in a spirit world, but was an atheist. In my mind, ghosts and gods are the same things. Are they incorrectly using the term or am I?

Posted: June 3rd 2012


I agree with the other commentators. However, I’d like to add that there’s a difference between “believing in X” and “believing in an interpretation of X.”

I have personally heard and read a lot of convincing accounts of strange phenomena. However, it’s up in the air whether these things are really “ghosts,” or just poorly understood phenomena that people tend to take for ghosts.

Posted: January 3rd 2013

See all questions answered by EXSTEN


Atheism is purely the lack of belief in gods. One can believe in ghosts and still be an atheist.

It is, however, not a common belief among the atheists I’ve interacted with.

Posted: June 30th 2012

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

Galen Rose www

An atheist is one who doesn’t believe in any gods, and that’s all it means. As you have discovered, one can believe in ghosts or other spirits, so long as they aren’t gods, and still be an atheist.

However, that attitude is extremely rare. Most atheists don’t believe a supernatural world exists, and that counts out ghosts, demons, devils, angels, and all other types of disembodied spirits. The vast majority of atheists believe such “beings” are products of man’s imagination and nothing more.

Posted: June 6th 2012

See all questions answered by Galen Rose


Is your atheism a problem in your religious family or school?
Talk about it at the atheist nexus forum