As my name suggests, I am a "dissident" atheist. That is to say, I have the "irrational" belief that the paranormal cannot in fact,
be explained by delusions, mistakes, lies, or wishful thinking. Though most atheists are purely materialistic in nature, I take deep
exceptions to a purely materialist, reductionist viewpoint, be it in science or philosophy.
I started out like them, sure enough. Dogmatically, I asserted that there were no gods, no spirits, no ghosts, no paranormal -- it was all
nonsense. I went through this strict materialist phase as a teenager as a sort knee-jerk reaction to the foolishness I saw in organized religion.
Eventually I felt dissatisfied with strict atheism, and materialism seemed questionable to me. Whatever I believed, I realized I could not be certain...
Unless I experimented myself, and tried to find evidence. I grew uneasy about others telling me what was, and was not -- regardless of what that
something might be. So I decided to settle the issue once and for all and experiment with paranormal phenomena. After reading about the issue, still
quite skeptical, I decided that EVP seemed the most easy route of experiencing paranormal phenomena -- assuming it existed.
When I first began my experiments I was definitely a materialist. At first I only got rather weird noises. Although I couldn't exactly explain them, nothing in particular was convincing. Then I got something, that when slowed down a bit, and cleaned up, seemed to be my name. That spooked me a bit, and started seeding the cognitive dissonance. I did a bit more and got a few more results and pretty much decided that I was very probably wrong about the universe being pure material in nature.
I didn't really need much proof, per se, as the strangeness alone was enough to allow me to question my so-rigidly held beliefs -- and yes, a lack of a belief is an inverse belief.
Since that time I have had a few other odd experiences I would classify as paranormal -- perhaps.
I have been waken by a sudden shout in my bedroom (I live alone!) which I could not explain. I have also been tapped on the shoulder by something unseen in sleep, and awoken. Most recently I have had my sheets tugged on -- while asleep and dreaming. However, when I awoke the tugging continued. After fully waking and using the restroom, I got back into bed -- and yet something still tugged on my sheets, ever so gently.
Due to all these peculiar experiences, I have started to question certain things -- cherished beliefs for the skeptics.
Matter is all there is -- very highly doubtful.
The mind is just the brain -- also very dubious.
The mind is located in the brain -- I think it's more likely to extend beyond the brain itself, perhaps infinitely.
Mysterious creatures are just imaginary -- maybe, maybe not. Without a body, it's difficult to say.
I've read a few intersting books of late, the most important, perhaps, being Michael Talbot's The Holographic Universe.
Now I must question whether the universe is material at all!
It is interesting to point out that paranormal phenomena, of all sorts, is only "woo" (how I hate this word) if your model of reality does not allow for it. Certainly, most of it violates our classical understanding of the world we live in, as depicted by modern science. This all assumes that our worldview is correct, however.
Above all else, this cherished belief that we understand reality must be questioned, as well.