Can an Atheist Be Psychic?

Ed Young via Creative Commons on Flickr

What if all this spiritual stuff were bullshit?

What if it’s all magical thinking?

I fantasize about being an atheist. I daydream about it.

It would just be easier.

The intellectual side of me wouldn’t feel discomfort. My ego wouldn’t worry about being judged.

To be honest, I am still not comfortable with how closely what I do and put out into the world resembles religion.

I think religion is literally mankind’s worst invention.

I can make an argument that just about any social ill or self-inflicted problem of the human race can be traced back to religion somehow, some way.

The magical part of me is resentful. I feel like religion stole the magic tools and misappropriated them.

I admit to playing with those same tools, speaking much of the same language.

And part of me really does not like that.

The vast majority of us try to express this conundrum as being “spiritual but not religious.”

There’s a part of me that badly wants to rail against the whole thing.

I don’t want to be associated with anything which a whiff of religiosity

I want to be able to freely and clearly without complication say “this is all bullshit.”

So much of it is.

Or else it’s been so badly muddied.

Yet, here I am, trying to explain what I and others experience, to harness it, to make it useful to us in some way.

I go through this internal checklist, testing what I can dismiss.

It’s definitely easy for me to imagine you can be psychic without believing in spirits or religion.

Psychic ability could simply be a bio-technology. Like any other function in our bodies and minds. There is a lot of amazing complicated involuntary stuff happening within our biological vessels.

There could other explanations for what we perceive as the presence of spirits.

I always think one day there will be scientifically supported biological explanations for psychic ability, spiritual phenomenon. We’re always reading those cool science pieces others share on Facebook about interconnection, the mind’s impact on the body…evidence or proof of some mystical wisdom.

It’s one of the reasons I loved having Dr. Keith Holden on the show…

Maybe spirits are cellular memory. It’s ancestral intelligence passed through DNA.

The Native Americans believed in this.

In Dune by Frank Herbert, the Bene Gesserit are an order of witches who can access the intelligence of all the women who preceded them matrilineally as biological ancestors. It’s like having the voice of every mother and grandmother before you as an enormous hive mind of counselors within your own head.

After the episode about dream-walking, one of my listeners — Sterling — wrote to me and proposed the theory that we remote view others in our dreams and help them during crises … and the person receiving that assistance may experience it as a spiritual presence.

What if our guides are living people connecting to us psychically, on another plane?

What if all this stuff is symbolic thinking? It’s true in some way, but representative of something else, like icons on a touchscreen.

What if what we perceive to be spiritual phenomena is a kind of user interface with parts of our intellectual technology and consciousness we don’t fully understand how to access and use?


I hate to think about how a few hundred years from now I will be viewed as a misguided superstitious idiot with good intentions and bad information.

But here’s the one stumper…

What do we do with synchronicity?

My friend Lacy pointed out it’s the one phenomena every one experiences, regardless of belief.

Atheists still experience synchronicity, right?

How do they explain it to themselves? I’d love to know, but I doubt there are any atheists listening to this show.

If you know of one, or some books or links, I’d love you to share them with me.

Weirdly, I randomly stumbled upon a blog post I had written almost ten years ago called Atheism and ESP.

I want to share that story with you right now.

“Can an atheist be psychic?”

Mark, an evangelical youth minister, asked me this question last weekend at the coffee house.

The wi-fi cafe where I go to write in the afternoons and on weekends is the favorite mobile office for a lot of ministers in the community where I live. You might assume I would prefer to be surrounded by a flock of bright-eyed New Agers, but not only is an environment like that unlikely to exist in Chattanooga, TN it wouldn’t necessarily appeal to me.

I am comforted by diversity. There are a few Buddhist monks here and there, plenty of college students and professors and even a few technopagans (usually in the evenings), but the overwhelming number of “regulars” whose work weeks most resemble my own are Christian preachers. We each have “our” (preferred) table or couch — our spots where we play modern scribes on laptops, week after week… I can’t say that they see the resemblance between our roles as much as I do — but they behave as if it’s true, and actions are what counts.

If the cafe were filled with mystics who wanted to chat, I’d never get anything accomplished. And, besides, I see the distances and the differences as a promising vision of an interfaith future; where we respect each other as people first, regardless of our vocabularies.

Even though Mark is Pentecostal, he experiences a high-level of clairaudience that is more similar to my own than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s even “confessed” his ability to me, to ensure more understanding between us. Just like anyone I meet on my path, my goal as a minister is always to communicate permission for you to believe what you will, and encouragement for you to create the world you want to live in. I politely refuse to argue theology, politics, or define Source with anyone — last time I allowed myself to engage in that conversation, I almost lost Mark — he asked me by whose Authority my abilities are endowed, and I succinctly responded “Mine.”

“Now don’t fret,” I quickly appended the statement when I saw the light in his eyes go dim, and I picked up the silent keyword heresy, “You already know the Source resembles your own in a way that words and definitions only confuse. Repeat your Question, ask my Source directly this time, and not me…”

I mentally stood back, stood down from the protection I normally project, and received his quick, shy, telepathic probe. It was interesting to note that he went straight for my guides and they answered him directly. Mark looked flushed and slightly embarrassed, but the pinched eyebrows relaxed, and his face softened with a kind of child-like smile. He suddenly looked hopeful and happy, like he’d just heard something wonderful and clever. Guess he found the Authority he needed in there, the one my personal labels could not have affirmed for him.

Now, reassured, Mark respects me and trusts me enough to still ask me brilliant, challenging questions once in awhile — but not to challenge me; more to share with me the ways in which he feels challenged.

So, back to last Saturday, when Mark turned around in his chair, peeked over my laptop and asked me “Can an atheist be psychic?”

“Absolutely!” I said. “I feel that psychic abilities — extra-sensory perceptive abilities — are independent of any agenda we might attach to them. Look at this way: you can draw a picture on a napkin without being an artist; you can sing in the shower without being a musician; you can talk without being a speaker; you know when something tastes delicious, whether or not you can deconstruct the recipe and whip it up yourself in the kitchen. The mechanics of the senses have no predetermined goal.”

See, only a day prior to this question, I began participating in a university study which profiles psychic abilities, or extra-sensory perception, from a purely clinical, scientific perspective. I have grown so used to attaching my own faith and personal understanding of the supernatural, that I’d actually forgotten that academic ESP literature rarely addresses religion or spirituality at all.

You don’t have just five biological senses, you actually have nine — your psychic faculties exist and are constantly available to you, regardless of any belief system. Your body — certain regions of your body — act as antennae. You receive and process information using your four extra senses much as you do the five you’re most familiar with — you don’t have to believe in anything to be able to see, hear, taste, smell, or feel.

You can interact with, respond to, receive information from, and communicate with your environment — especially with other people or other living things in your environment — regardless of what you believe or don’t believe.

How you process, define, identify who, what, or where the information comes from is another conversation entirely.

You don’t have to see radio waves to use them in your everyday life. You don’t have to believe in electricity to flip switches. You don’t have to understand the way light behaves as both waves and particles to be able to see.

I feel that anyone can strengthen their psychic senses. You are psychic; you use these senses all the time. You don’t have to sit down and pray once a week to be able to smell. You don’t have to remember to hear when you wake up in the morning.

Now, who it is you may be hearing… That’s another story.

I have this other daydream where one day, I just come out and reveal to you guys, that I am a Psychic Atheist. And I pivot everything I do…

Because, here’s the thing. I can still do readings.

The information that I get is still accurate and useful.

The source of this information is what I’m questioning here.

I think even the Akashic Records in theory could be retained in a philosophy of psychic atheism.

Does this conversation make you feel uncomfortable? Or does it spark your imagination in some way?

I don’t know — I just wanted to talk about this. To put it out there and see what comes back.

Does anything about this resonate with you?

Listen to the podcast of this post:

Ep 24 — Can an Atheist Be Psychic?

Originally published on Shift Your Spirits

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