VJack over at Atheist Revolution wrote a post the other day about atheists who believe in ghosts. A similar argument to one I've at times posed myself came up, namely that the phenomenon people recognize as 'ghosts' might have a natural and explainable cause, we just haven't realized it yet.
From the comments, CroWrath wrote:
Man, I just posed this question on think atheist dot com. (Fireborn over there) I am an Atheist and I do 'believe' in and I have seen a 'ghost'. Long story short, met a chick at a bar, went back to her place, saw a 'ghost' dog, a few mins later she comes in and mentions 'the dogs'. Two dogs were killed on the property about A year (? +/-) previous..
Now yes, I had had a few at the bar. I was not 'drunk'. This was the FIRST incident of many, not just with witnessing the dogs, with that house. With THAT house ONLY. I have not claimed to have seen anything else before or since that house. But there were alot of things that went on in that house that could not be just explained away.
We both moved out of that house and my occurrences stopped. I can not say about her.
In my opinion, 'ghosts' are energy (in the electrical sense), with the new theory of quantum energy, there is obviously things we do not understand about energy
My response was this:
Sometimes I wax on about energy and the like, because you're right - we are learning more and more about energy and it seems almost natural that living creatures might have some kind of 'energy signal' or something that we currently attribute to ghosts, simply because we don't understand it fully yet. It's fun to think about, but it's not enough, even with personal anecdotal evidence, for me to actually assert that ghosts are real.
I work at a drive-in theater and everyone in the area, plus the majority of the people who work there, contend that the place is haunted. Personally, I've heard what sounded like kids laughing up in the booth at night and I've also been looking at a wall when a paper towel dispenser seemed to violently fall off and away from the wall I was looking at. My experiences added to all of the other experiences people have claimed to have seem like a mountain of evidence. In fact, it might seem like I'm almost willfully rejecting the possibility of ghosts, given that there are accounts, at times corroborated, that date back decades.
The problem, of course, is that there is already a predetermined expectation of paranormal activity that people have about the place, so when wind blows through the 60 year old, poorly maintained building and it makes a sound, people are already listening for kids giggling. When a paper towel dispenser falls off a wall that it's fallen off of several times because it keeps getting improperly mounted, people already have that idea of it being flung off the wall by some attention seeking apparition.
Anyway, I'm not trying to say my situation is the same as yours, I guess I mostly just wanted to respond because I can see the logic behind your speculations about ghosts and energy, I just don't think it makes sense to positively say that ghosts exist because we are learning more about energy and may possibly discover something about energy in the future that could scientifically explain ghost stories.
I think one of the hardest things you have to deal with if you are not a skeptic is the fact that anecdotal evidence is not logically acceptable for anyone but the person or people who were directly involved in the event/incident/whatever. Removing anecdotal evidence, the concept of ghosts seems to be reduced significantly to the position of a possibility.
Also, it should be kept in mind that regarding ghosts as some kind of energy or other natural phenomena is not an argument in favor of the supernatural. Rather it's a possible natural explanation for something which has been generally accepted to be supernatural. If at some point there is a way to prove the existence of what would be commonly considered ghosts, the very fact that it is able to be verified makes it no longer SUPERnatural.
But, when push comes to shove, all atheism means is a lack of belief in god. A lot of atheists feel that way because, like me, they've never felt that 'presence of the lord' people often talk about when they're explaining their own religious beliefs. I can understand if someone really believes they've seen ghosts that they believe in ghosts. As long as there isn't any ghost-based initiatives passed in my government, I don't really care what people believe in.