Recurring personal experiences VS scientific explanations

Hello, I am hoping some athiest can give me some guidance to my questions or perhaps some advice as to books i could read!? I grew up christian and up to recently believed whole heartedly that 'god' was assisting me etc I grew up with an abundance of medical problems which i slowly overcome with the help of what i thought was god. I didnt really believe what was told in the bible... but when you grow up with enough stories and personal experiences and phenomena, whats not to believe? My question is mainly about spirits and ghosts etc. Just when i was adjusting to views of atheism, the one thing i cant escape nor ignore is spirits or ghosts. My friend for example, all his life, has had 'powers', where he has sensed, felt, become ill from and spoken to from spirits. He can move pain away from certain parts of his body and has even been able to bend spoons, and has witness friends move objects across the room with their mind. He also said that his mother has the same 'powers' and knows when he is sick etc. Now, i understand and love how science can explain logically how people can think they are surrounded by a ghost now and again.. but how can it explain recurring experiences, telling the future and supernatural powers from just an everyday normal non-religious person!? He cant explain it, he can just do it. This is the only thing that is keeping me from lets say, living in ignorance that nothing outside ourselves exists. Could it be unknown human potential maybe?? maybe we can all heal people, fly around and move objects across the room.. but we havent all evolved to such a point yet!?? i'm yearning for some answers here. I've also had friends that are 'wiccan', who practise and perform spells, who believe in many gods. I have a friend that when he speaks to his gods, they speak back, and he demands things of them etc. I cant just accept that some things dont have answers or that hundreds of supernatural incidents throughout someones life is just a glitch in the brain!? See people, i want to be an athiest, but i cant! thank you for anyone that replys!
Atheist Answer: 

The first thing I notice is that you haven't personally experienced any of this. Your friend hasn't demonstrated anything with a physical, observable effect for you. You're working entirely on the basis of his accounts of his own doings.

The first thing I would do is ask your friend and/or his mother why they don't go public with their "powers" and make a fortune as a new family of Uri Gellers. They will have very good reasons to give you, no doubt, but their reaction in the first split-second will be very informative if you look closely. The idea of being scrutinised by a professional skeptic like James Randi can be an unpleasant one if there's any doubt in one's mind whatsoever.

You've brought up a great many paranormal phenomena being claimed by the same fellow. Even if you don't consider the possibility that your friend is lying, there are ways in which he can have given himself a mistaken impression of each one.

Poorly-defined "spirits", in particular, can be credited for a wide range of things.
- A sudden, brief wave of nausea can come to some people at any time for a variety of medical reasons. It can feel like a ghost has flown straight through them.
- Like me, some people have one-second episodes where they shudder all over, even though they're not cold. It's referred to as "someone walking over your grave".
- We hear disembodied voices all the time, in our thoughts and in our dreams. All it takes is serious consideration that they might not all be coming from you, even if they really are, to create the idea of a second participant in your inner monologue.
- During an episode of sleep paralysis, which I've also experienced, hallucinations of all kinds can happen to perfectly sane people. The brain just panics.

The predictions of your friend's mother are made more significant by confirmation bias. If she has a feeling that your friend may be ill, but then calls and finds out he's fine, she probably thinks nothing of it. If she calls and she's right, it's enough of a coincidence to have an emotional impact, and therefore be remembered. After a while, she would mostly remember only the times she was right, and have a skewed impression of her rate of accuracy.

The spoon-bending thing is the hardest one to explain away without considering outright fraud, but it's still possible. Put yourself in the place of your friend. You believe, fervently, that you have psychic powers of some sort. You decide to put them to the test by attempting the classic achievement, so you get a spoon out of the kitchen drawer.

You hold both ends of the spoon, very lightly, to detect any movement caused by your mind. You don't know how it's actually done, so you experiment. You look at the spoon, and imagine it bending. Nothing happens. You silently order the spoon to bend, and nothing happens. You decide to go all out, and concentrate on the spoon so hard your face scrunches up, and your body tenses. Still nothing, so you go even harder. Finally you're so intent on the spoon itself, and your muscles are so rigid, that you don't even feel the slight pressure your hands are now exerting on the ends of the spoon. It seems to bend all by itself, and your red face and headache tells you it is thanks to your mind. If anyone ever saw you do it they would instantly break the spell, but if you don't ever demonstrate it in public you might never know.

Finally, your friend's stories of telekinesis are a bit vague. You'd have to ask him and preferably also his friend exactly what happened for us to discuss it usefully.

Look at it this way. If your friend is right and there are spirits and psychics, that's important. If he's wrong and there aren't any, that's important too, especially to your friend. What if he receives what he thinks is a message from a spirit which accuses an innocent acquaintance of his of stealing from him, and he wrongfully confronts that person, therefore needlessly making an enemy?

That's why it's beneficial to him as well as you to find out whether there's any truth to all this. This is the spirit in which you might approach him, if you decide you want him to give you a demonstration.

He might well accuse you of doubting his honesty or his sanity, but - and this is important to the religious debate - just because someone isn't lying or mad doesn't mean they're RIGHT. There are countless ways in which they could be honestly mistaken, and if they are they need to know about it.

- SmartLX

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