Imaginary Friends

I don’t believe in ghosts just like I don’t believe in horoscopes, flying saucers, palm readings, the Boogieman, psychic predictions, Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, creationism or that Elvis is still alive.

We humans have a tendency to latch onto mythology, legends and other fictional folklore to explain the unexplained. I guess we find it comforting to believe that, instead of just a storm, it’s actually a god who lives under the sea that we have somehow angered. We must sacrifice a sheep in order for calm to be restored to the ocean.

We’ve always done it. Before we had microscopes, when we still thought the Earth was flat, before we had any real concept of science, we had gods. These gods told us what to do and what not to do. They made life easier because there was someone to blame or someone to go to when things got rough.

Having someone or something to blame when things aren’t going all that well is a powerful and alluring thing. It’s scary to believe that we’re all out here on our own with no one to protect us or to mete out punishment. It’s too big of a concept for most people to think that we are all responsible for our own actions and that there really is no rhyme nor reason to the universe. It doesn’t fit with our human nature as thousands of gods from various cultures evince.

It’s even scarier for most folk to think that, when we die, that’s all there is to it, so we invented ghosts and reincarnation. I find it funny that, whenever people’s past lives are revealed, they’re usually some sort of celebrity and never just a subsistence farmer. That, to me, proves it’s all bunk. There’s just no way we could have all been Anne Boleyn or King Philip II of Spain.

But, in my own scientific way, I do believe in reincarnation in a sense. When the receptacle called a human expires, it’s only natural that it would go on to be something else. We are all made up from organic matter that at one point will be water and dirt or rock. In a sense, we do live on, but probably not as self-contained ghosts hanging out in some ether world waiting room, waiting for the next body to jump into, or hanging out down here on Earth spooking the living and pining for vengeance.

So, do I believe in ghosts? Not really. I believe in ghosts the same way I believe in the various mythology that countless civilizations have created. The great thing about science is that it’s mutable. What is fact today, might not be tomorrow. Human knowledge is ever changing and growing. Show me hard and fast, irrefutable proof and I’ll believe it, but until then, it’s just another fairy tale of imaginary friends invented by humans to make existence slightly less scary.