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The Paranormal And (Modern) Religions

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posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 05:12 PM
With interest in the paranormal soaring these days, and with Hollywood at the helm with shows like "Medium" and "Ghost Whisperer," people often ask me what the relationship is between religious belief and belief in the paranormal.

I think what they're really asking is, "Can I be a good member of a church or synagogue and still believe in the paranormal?"

It's a very good question.

Interest in the paranormal soars in wartime and whenever the economy sours. Add to that the mistrust many people now have for the mainline churches and the clergy because of recently revealed sex scandals, etc., and people become desperate for something to turn to. We are, after all, homo adorans ("worshipping man"): Worshipping God is part of the way we are built. Hollywood excels in picking up on this need and capitalizing on it, therefore fueling even more interest among viewers.

Popular science can get into the act, too. Far from debunking the supernatural and religion, some modern scientific theories, especially quantum mechanics and string theory, are trashing scientific materialism (the belief that matter is basically all there is) and indirectly encouraging a new (rather stunning, I think) interpretation of the paranormal, which my own books on the subject espouse. While their theology may not jive with that of the local clergy, some scientists today are routinely talking about God.

In the end, people believe what they want to believe, even within highly dogmatic religious groups. They will interpret even the strictest official teachings in their own ways and learn to be comfortable with them. They will rationalize nearly any belief or practice with the religion in which they were brought up or in which they feel most at home. That's why there are pro-choice advocates among Roman Catholics and Tarot card readers among evangelicals, to name just a few.

Most any student of folklore will tell you that all our religions had their origins in (for all intents and purposes) the paranormal. They resulted from the primal and universal human need to explain the unexplained, especially death. The ultimate drive was and is a gut need to know that our loved ones are okay, and that we will be okay -- that, when all is said and done, Someone loves us. When this need is answered to our satisfaction -- by religion, the paranormal or both -- we have the sense of security, belonging and well-being we all thirst for.

I think interest in the paranormal coexists very comfortably with religious belief, and this draws strength from the fact that modern religious institutions no longer adequately answer the simple questions of “Are they okay? Will I be okay?” When it suits them, people are picking their way beyond the institutional religions into paranormal interests, if not actual occult practices, because mainline religion isn't -- or is no longer -- answering their ultimate questions in ways that satisfy them.

So is it okay to belong to a church, temple or other organized religious group and still believe in ghosts, clairvoyance, ESP and all that when the group officially frowns on such beliefs?

There is the question of honesty. In many religions today, you can in good conscience believe pretty much anything you want. Others still have a notion of discipline and obedience. To be faithful to your group and to yourself, you should deal with the question of whether you belong to the right worshipping community.

And I offer the same warnings to religious believers that I do to those interested in the paranormal: Beware of anyone (clergy, medium or whoever) or anything that tells you what God thinks and what God wants. Learn from those with more experience than you, of course. Use your own brain, your own heart and your own faith. And don't be afraid to judge!

In the end, after all the talk, all the books and all the dogma, it's just you and God. And all theology and all science end in silence.

posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 05:34 PM
reply to post by ALightBreeze

So, if you don't mind my asking, what hard evidence is there for any paranormal activity? Evidence produced through careful study by unbiased scholars, using the scientific method? Because I've looked, and everything that I've turned up can be written off to natural, not supernatural methods, and that's when it's not an out and out obvious fraud.

My skepticism, by the way, comes from my science background, not my theism. I clearly believe in the supernatural, I've just never seen an instance of it originating in a person, which leads me to believe that it does not.

My experience has also been that people who use "quantum mechanics" and "string theory" to explain magical behaviour or possibilities rarely have clue one about either of those disciplines -- witness the witless "What the BLEEP Do We Know" movie from a few years back.

posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 05:48 PM

Originally posted by ALightBreeze
With interest in the paranormal soaring these days, and with Hollywood at the helm with shows like "Medium" and "Ghost Whisperer," people often ask me what the relationship is between religious belief and belief in the paranormal.

I think what they're really asking is, "Can I be a good member of a church or synagogue and still believe in the paranormal?"

It's a very good question.

Of course they can. You just said yourself, people believe what they want to believe. So you seem to have answered your own question there. In fact, I know of several church-goers who have told me ghost stories and such. These experiences are not just confined to the non-churchgoers.

posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 06:36 PM

A scientist and his brother, who was a clergyman, were in a car. They were driving down a straight road on a sunny day. At the same moment, they both spotted something in the road ahead.

"That's a dead animal," the clergyman pronounced.

"No, it's just a pile of rags," stated the scientist.

When they arrived at the spot, they pulled over and got out of the car to look at the object so they could settle their dispute. It was a small, rounded animal carrier with a live ferret inside. Evidently it had fallen off the back of a vehicle.

"That's a dead animal," insisted the clergyman.

"No, it's just a pile of rags," the scientist persisted.

Frustrated with each other, the two siblings got back into the car, changed the subject, and continued their journey. The unfortunate ferret hoped that the next passersby would have the sense to get out of their own way and see what was in front of their faces.

I have never understood why science and religion can't agree on things that were everyday obvious to hundreds of previous generations: God or Gods, unending life, the connectedness of all things.

After all, the paranormal is the mother of both science and religion. We humans have always seen the unexplained, and we have had a passionate need to understand it so we don't have to fear it anymore. We have always looked to religion and science for answers and security in the face of a paranormal universe.

posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 10:47 PM
reply to post by ALightBreeze

Back in the car, our scientist may be listening.

"Look here! In science, a fact is a fact, and it's not a matter of interpretation."

Well, old sweetheart, the FACT is that we know practically nothing for certain about our universe, our world, our own minds, or ourselves. We're just too scared or too pigheaded to admit it.

Virtually every scientific discovery poses more questions than it answers, and many "facts" of science past have been overturned by subsequent discoveries. Scientists in most every field are at each other's throats over one "fact" or another. The very basis of modern science -- the scientific method (observation, theory, experiment, law) -- is being shaken by the mind-blowing insights of quantum physics. It's also being shaken by corporate research money, scientists who cheat, and the fact that you can't explain a multi-dimensional universe with a three-dimensional method.

posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 10:46 AM
Clearly, it was the paranormal that was the root of the Abrahamic religions. Without the interactions with voices coming from burning bushes, talking animal, an angels wrestling with Jacob, the visions of Ezekiel, the conversion of Paul, etc. We wouldn't have religion as we know it.

Clearly the Hebrews believed in the paranormal, but were forbidden to interact with spirits by the Bible itself. So when King Saul went to the Witch of Endor, who successfully conjured up the soul of Samuel, he was breaking some religious law.

The entire book of Enoch, which named and explained the stations and duties of the angels, was removed from the Bible to discourage the interaction and summoning and worshiping of said angels.

When the Catholic Church set out to convert the pagans, they had to outlaw the pre-existing paranormal cultural influence that was embedded in their respective religions.


CHRISTIANS must not forsake the Church of God, and go away and invoke angels and gather assemblies, which things are forbidden. If, therefore, any one shall be found engaged in this covert idolatry, let him be anathema; for he has forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and has gone over to idolatry.

So, now we have Christians who are forbidden to invoke the very angels, the messengers from God that ministered to Jesus in the desert, who moved the stone of Jesus' tomb, who led Lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were pivotal in the Biblical theology, further separating Christian followers from the divine.

So, one can be a Christian and believe in the paranormal, but one must fear it, condemn it, and never explore it for oneself in order to remain a Christian in good standing.

For the most part, a person claiming to have had a visitation by an angel or a deceased loved one will be met with ridicule, skepticism or downright rebuke. Anyone practicing invocations or magickal ritual will be labeled satanic by mainstream Christians.

If dreams, visions, telepathy and mind over matter issues had not been demonized by "god" I wonder how much further we would be in the realms of understanding the human psyche.

EDIT: to add this cannon, just for fun


THEY who are of the priesthood, or of the clergy, shall not be magicians, enchanters, mathematicians, or astrologers; nor shall they make what are called amulets, which are chains for their own souls. And those who wear such, we command to be cast out of the Church.

edit on 7-9-2012 by windword because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:08 AM
reply to post by windword

Nice post.

The disconnect between spirituality and the paranormal began when [modern] materialistic science shoved paranormality outside their box. It doesn't fit. Religion soon followed. Paranormality by definition is unexplainable - but often, hundreds of times - been exorcised as proven by using the scientific methodology which is at the core of materialistic science!

E.g the near death experience with lucid thinking - frequently referred by our ancestors - not only occurs when flat-lined, it occurs similarly across cultures, across ages, with concurrent drug administration, oxygen, or without. Children similarly untainted by belief or having an adults analytical understanding, also have the same experiences. The fact that this experience occurs regardless of physical state and mental thinking at the time, should in itself be alerting scientists that consciousness seems to be able to survive irrespective of possible confounding causal factors. The data sez its so. Ask Schwartz, Sheldrake and dozens of others.

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