Thursday, January 10, 2013

Observations on the State of the Paranormal Community – Part 2: The Investigations


By Reverend Mark Hunnemann


With the New Year I feel compelled to ask: what is the state of the paranormal community? Before I respond, let me say that I consider myself part of the paranormal community (though I prefer to call it supernatural), and I care for these folks. I am not an outsider throwing rocks; rather I am inside trying, in my weak and stumbling way, to change people’s minds through reasoned persuasion. ..praying that honest seekers for truth will listen.

I whittled it down to two issues—what is happening to the investigators and what is happening regarding the investigations. In this section we will deal with the latter…my analysis of the investigators is in Part!

Are investigations yielding accurate identification of the underlying cause of the paranormal activity? With the current methodologies being used, are they able to identify spirit entities? Are they helping the client with their investigations and recommendations? (Note that Q.1 & 3 are inextricably bound together) Those are the main issues I wish to explore.

I have stated before that the paranormal community is a plausibility structure—a sociological term denoting a group which provides a safe environment to assume certain beliefs are plausible, which outsiders may consider implausible. For example, it is easy to believe in trapped human spirits when around those who are like-minded. However, it can also lead to an uncritical acceptance of basic assumptions deeply held within the paranormal community. In fact, within a plausibility structure, any questioning of basic assumptions may be met with resistance. May I suggest that there is nothing wrong, and everything right, about a particular group like the paranormal community (or a church) that makes people feel safe in their quest for truth? However, when basic assumptions regarding ghost theory become “off-limits” to scrutiny, then that discourages honest seeking of truth. That is when a plausibility structure becomes a hindrance, and not a help, in discovering the truth. It certainly is not scientific, inductive reasoning.
                                                                                                                                                                              
Recently, I read a thread on Facebook which was discussing Josh Gates and the Destination Truth crew in which they were returning to a “haunted” forest where their camera man had been violently thrown during the first investigation. The main issue they were debating was what kind of spirit had tossed the camera man? After some discussion, the person who started the thread (who leads an investigative group) stated, “I think they were elementals (a form of nature spirit) which that group had provoked too harshly…but we will never know definitively until we die.” (Italics added)  
 
BINGO!  Identity agnosticism—not just with this situation, but we are UNABLE TO DEFINITIVELY IDENTIFY ANY SPIRIT BEINGS!  I applaud her honesty, but there are many who will disagree and say that they are able to definitively identify the spirit beings they encounter. As I hope to show, their optimism is inconsistent with their presuppositions. ;
Why? Because (and this is key) identification of supernatural entities is not a paranormal, intuitive, or scientific issue, but a theological issue. As a Christian, this should be a given, but let me buttress my point.

All the latest scientific instrumentation can only document/verify a supernatural presence, but it CANNOT classify them (more below).

This identity agnosticism is a consequence of choosing speculation as the intellectual starting point for studying the supernatural instead of revelation. SPECULATION VERSUS REVELATION   When it comes to studying the supernatural, there are only two options for our source of truth—the vain, autonomous (not subject to God’s law) speculation of man, or the humble reliance on revelation (the bible). The monolithic consensus in the paranormal community is speculation; man, along with instruments and subjective feelings, can determine whether a being is demonic or not, human or not, intelligent or not, benign or not, positive or not, and so on. In other words, man is the measure of all things paranormal…that is not a neutral mindset—it is a religion of pride in opposition to God’s revealed truth ( Prov.1:7)

Remember that the success or failure of all investigations, and whether we help or hurt people, hinges on accurate identification of the spirit beings causing the problems. Can a medical doctor help someone if they misdiagnose the identity of the disease?

Remember also what we have said over and over; all of the various means by which investigations seek spirit communication are actually making the condition worse for the client. Just from that one point, we can deduce that investigations are doing more harm than good.

Since demons can mimic virtually anything or anyone (angel of light principle, 2 Cor. 11:14), and rule the psychic airwaves, then it is impossible to construct a set of accurate criteria that will definitively classify these beings into certain categories; psychics and mediums are puppets in the hands of the dark psychic masters. This includes the ability to project into you a sense of positive energy and human goodness—which regularly fools the most sensitive of people. However, how many times have I heard a professing Christian say, “I sense that this entity is positive.” A thousand times NO! The angel of light principle includes the ability to project any ambiance they so desire, including the sensation that all evil has left, or that pure evil is sweet and holy; or project into the medium’s and psychic’s minds a whole string of false data and images. Why are Christians using psychics and mediums anyway, when we saw last time how strongly the bible condemns their activity?

We must subordinate our sensations—all of our subjective states, including claims of discernment-- to the word of God.  It seems to me that most Christians who believe in trapped spirits do so primarily on the persuasiveness and intensity of sensations they feel regarding particular entity/entities. Subjective feelings are just feelings, and are subject to demonic influence—subjective states are trumped by God’s explicit commands (Deut.18:9-14). We need to operate with the conviction of Sola Scriptura. Scripture alone has come under attack in a thousand different ways in the neo-gnostic milieu in which we live. When I was in seminary a woman was asked why she was pursuing the pastorate when she knew the bible forbade women from doing so. Her answer was instructive: she affirmed the authority of the bible, but said she had an inner call from God which trumped what the bible said! The Holy Spirit, who inspired the bible and also calls people to ministry, does not speak out of both sides of His mouth.

Consider my Christian Facebook friend who made the elemental observation, but added the proviso that we won’t know for sure until we die. Why was she admitting identity agnosticism? I am not sure, but my hunch is that she is well aware of the fact that there is no way to haul that entity into the lab and scientifically analyze it. However, that is true of all supernatural entities—even the most rigorous investigation is miles away from approximating the testing procedures used in scientific experiments in the natural realm. The scientific method is inadequate when it comes to definitively identifying entities in the supernatural realm. A moment’s communion with common sense should reveal that science is INCAPABLE of classifying supernatural spirits.

Our three questions were: 1.Are investigations accurately identifying the beings causing the problems? 2. Are they able to with current methodology? 3. And are the investigations helping people? We have demonstrated that the paranormal community is habitually misdiagnosing the spiritual disease, and that they are unable to correctly diagnose with current investigative assumptions. Therefore…Based on 1 & 2, then we must sadly conclude that the vast majority of investigations are not helping people. Furthermore, investigations generally hurt people—both temporally and eternally. Since we always misdiagnose when we introduce trapped spirits or residuals (or other unbiblical categories of beings), then how can we give wise counsel at the reveal? How can we give sound advice when we do not have a clue as to what is “haunting” the house? What?! Peacefully co-exist with pure evil that is bent on our destruction? At least before the investigation, the client felt a legitimate concern—but when given false assurance from us, the guard is let down, and the demonic is often unwittingly embraced.  In 2013, the current condition of both investigators and investigations is sobering, and it is getting worse every day. Paranormal investigations are probably the main vehicle through which the evil genius is releasing and amassing his infernal army for the final assault. Please do not retreat into the cozy confines of a plausibility structure—have the courage and compassion to think through these basic assumptions for yourself.  We owe it to God and to the client to let the truth prevail…or the lawsuits will begin in earnest because of our gross negligence. Sola scriptura and soli deo Gloria!

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