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Ask the Patriarch 202
Can I be an apathetic agnostic and still believe in ghosts etc.?

from: Daniel

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I have long been a believer in the occult. Aliens, big foot, and ghosts all exist in my mind. Though in most cases, the only "proof" of the existence of the above is made up of conjecture and first hand accounts by "witnesses"

Would I be a hypocrite to believe some guy in Wisconsin saw a werewolf, but not an old woman claiming to have spoken to God? Can I be an apathetic agnostic and still believe in ghosts and many cryptids and aliens?

The Patriarch replies:


I have essentially answered this question at least once before, and possibly more than that. But it is worthwhile repeating. Agnosticism (as far as this web site is concerned and in accordance with much current common usage)[1] is a statement about god / gods. So is Apathetic Agnosticism. There is nothing about agnosticism at its stripped down core that precludes you from believing in other spiritual and supernatural entities.

But why would you?

Let's face it, when well told, tales of the supernatural are highly entertaining. We can get lost in the story. I make no secret that I'm a fan of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer - and I still enjoy sitting back and watching old episodes. But while I'll suspend my disbelief for length of the show, I don't let the witches, vampires, demons, werewolves, and the hellmouth carry over into reality. It is a great story, but still, it is just a story. The monsters do not exist outside the Buffyverse.

It's not hypocrisy to believe one teller of tales to be telling the truth, and not another one. That's human nature. But you should try to think rationally in determining the truth. You should have good reasons to make a distinction.

I do recommend to you the 10 minute video on openmindedness in A Miscellany 220. If after viewing it, you still choose to believe tellers of werewolf tales to be telling the truth, then so be it.


  1. However in Webster's New World Dictionary, College Edition, 1962, agnostic is defined as a person who thinks it impossible to know whether there is a God or a future life, or anything beyond material phenomena. (emphasis added) By this definition, the spiritual and supernatural is ruled out.