A Primer on Ghosts and Hauntings


Thirty-eight percent of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts and their ability to visit the earthly realm. This represents a significant portion of our population—well over 100 million Americans. 

What Is a Ghost?

A ghost is commonly described as the non-material manifestation of a dead person, or, in some cases, an animal. It is believed to represent the spirit or soul of an individual who has not crossed over to the “Other Side” and instead remains on earth after death. Psychics claim that most people accept their deaths when they die and pass through a tunnel to the Other Side where they can supposedly continue their spiritual journey. Ghosts, however, either reject or do not acknowledge the tunnel and become trapped between the earthly dimension and that of the Other Side. 

Psychics claim that these trapped spirits exist in a state of confusion, with no sense of time passing. They may not be aware that they are dead but find that the living world treats them as nonexistent. Some ghosts are believed to inhabit specific places where they go about their daily routines, seemingly oblivious to the living inhabitants of the house.

Psychics claim that ghosts are more accessible to human perception because they have not yet entered the dimension of the Other Side. They often manifest as semi-transparent, shadowy figures or fog-like apparitions, sometimes making their presence known through the movement of various objects, sounds (such as tapping sounds), or even the manipulation of light switches.

Why Ghosts Allegedly Remain on Earth

Psychics offer a variety of explanations as to why ghosts refuse to cross over to the Other Side. Some believe that these spirits remain on earth to comfort their living loved ones. They may feel the enduring connection of love that transcends death.

In some cases, sudden or violent deaths can cause confusion, with ghosts not fully realizing that they have died. Or they may remain on earth to protect or warn a loved one of impending danger, or to seek justice for their own death (if they were murdered). Some psychics claim that some ghosts may remain on earth in the interest of self-preservation, trying to avoid a fate in hell or purgatory. 

Curiosity about the living world, greed for earthly possessions, or the lack of a proper burial are still other possible reasons that psychics offer for why some spirits linger on earth.

Alleged Signs of a Ghost’s Presence

Psychics identify several signs that may indicate the presence of a ghost: 

  • Auditory signs include footsteps, unexplained noises, ringing bells, laughter, or screams.
  • Objects may be moved. 
  • Pets may act strangely, such as barking at unseen entities. 
  • Nightmares, sudden drops in temperature, and unusual smells are also associated with paranormal activity.
  • Other phenomena include flickering lights, flushing toilets, and electronic devices behaving erratically. 
  • Some ghosts may not manifest visibly, but can be sensed through feelings of being watched, hair standing on end, or physical sensations such as a tap on the shoulder. 
  • Doors and cabinets may open by themselves, and electronic voice phenomena may occur, with voices heard in “white noise” on TV or radio.

Poltergeist Activity

Poltergeists—noisy and disruptive spirits—are said to be annoying ghosts. They are believed to play tricks such as moving objects or causing disturbances. Poltergeists can be benevolent or malevolent and often confine their activities to specific locations.


Haunted houses and locations have become a popular topic, with numerous books, TV shows, and investigations devoted to them. Hauntings involve spirits that choose to remain on earth rather than move to the Other Side. They make their presence known to the current occupants of a house, often through some of the means I mentioned previously.

Reports of hauntings range from a ghostly presence on a train to a man being persistently haunted by a demanding female ghost. Schools in India have reportedly experienced ghostly apparitions, causing mass hysteria. Many people assume their house is haunted because they sometimes hear the floor or ceiling creaking, or footsteps somewhere in the house. 

Paranormal Investigation Teams

Due to the prevalence of alleged hauntings, paranormal investigation teams equipped with advanced technology have emerged. These teams use equipment such as electromagnetic field meters, thermal cameras, and audio recording devices to detect paranormal activity. They investigate haunted sites.

Reclaiming Your Space

Psychics and investigators suggest methods for ridding your home of ghosts. These include communication (“Get out of my house”), meditation, visualization, and prayer (to whatever “higher power” one believes in). The goal is to convince the spirit to move on and find peace on the Other Side.

The Journey to the Light

Ultimately, it is believed that all spirits will find their way to the Other Side. The challenge is to help them understand their transition and guide them to a peaceful existence beyond this realm. Spirits who are already on the Other Side are said to be aware of these troubled souls and seek to assist them in their journey.

Warning to the Christian

My friends, I must remind you that all of this is what ghost enthusiasts believe. All of this is patently unbiblical and involves occultism, which is condemned by God (Leviticus 19:26; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10-11; Acts 19:19). 

For more on the biblical problems with psychic phenomena, I invite you to consult my article, “A Christian Assessment of Psychics and Ghosts,” posted here at the John Ankerberg Show website.

Dr. Ron Rhodes received his Th.M. and Th.D. degrees in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, graduating with honors. He is currently the president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, an apologetics organization located in Texas.

The author of more than 60 books, with millions of books in print, Dr. Rhodes is a keynote speaker at conferences across the United States and Canada. As time permits, he also teaches at a number of seminaries, including Dallas Theological Seminary and Veritas Evangelical Seminary. He has been a guest on many national and regional radio and television programs, including the John Ankerberg Show. He and his wife, Kerri, reside in Texas.

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