By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
Psychic Phenomena, or Psi, are events that cannot be explained by conventional scientific observation. These are the phenomena that parapsychologists study, and others as well. Extrasensory perception (ESP) and Psychokinesis (PK) are primary, but there are others. Many, many others! My goal in this blog is two-fold: to give a representative list of the vast variety of Psi, and to ask which explanation best explains this wild diversity of phenomena.
While listening to a recent interview of Tricia Robertson with host Kev Baker, she asked the question: what happens after we die? She then stated that there was “evidence beyond a reasonable doubt” that we live on after death, and that there is this same level of evidence of for many Psi. It was a fascinating discussion, and Dr Robertson is brilliant. She knows we cannot ‘prove’ much paranormal activity by reproducing it in the lab. So, I found her “beyond reasonable doubt” very helpful and instructive.
My question is this: having found evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” that paranormal phenomena does in fact occur, does that explain the CAUSE behind the paranormal activity? They are two, distinct issues! Some otherwise very intelligent people seem to forget this distinction. Establishing the factualness of a phenomenon does not necessarily explain its origin, identity, or purpose….and to confuse the two is a logical fallacy. Psi are not self-referential nor self-defining. Remember we are dealing with the supernatural realm, and not the natural realm.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. What I DO (and many others) have in common with those in the paranormal community is a ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ knowledge that a long litany of paranormal phenomena truly do occur….and seemingly with increasing frequency. That is a strong point of contact for fruitful discussion, is it not? We need to recognize this common ground and use it to engender useful discussions.
While not an exhaustive list, here are some of the phenomena. I listed some of them in a recent blog entitled the “Creeping Darkness.” For sake of time, I will simply mention them without explanation or comment: telekinesis, psychokinesis, ESP, the appearance of dark clouds in a room, dark shadows—sometimes humanoid shaped, floating faces, poltergeists, drop-in communicators (T Roberston’s term for entities communicating out of the blue, unknown to any present but later confirmed), psychic surgery (invasive and non-invasive), energy healing of all kinds (e.g. Reiki), psychic art—some with ‘precipitated art’ (Bank Sisters), automatic writing, mediums, psychics, EVP’s, energy shapes or orbs, apparitions of various shapes and solidity, indoor rain, bee-sting sensation, cob-web effect, breezes, cold-spots, black-eyes kids, Aliens/abduction, cryptozoology, doppelgangers, quantum jumping, light bulb effect, sleep paralysis, vivid dreams/nightmares, ‘prophetic dreams’, ghost pets, alleged appearance of deceased loved ones, bangs, footsteps, smells, conversations, whistling, possession, spoon bending parties (at Rhine Inst.), wraiths,demons or ‘negative/hostile entities, elementals, fairies, leprechauns, etc. And we must not forget the very real effects/affects (emotional, intellectual, physical, relational, and spiritual) that these paranormal phenomena have on people…the effects are as long as the causes list above! Scratches, bites, burns, ect. And then there are the four alleged types of hauntings: intelligent deceased human, non-intelligent or residual, poltergeist, and demonic. Some affirm other types of haunts (e.g. multi-dimensional beings, or aliens).
When Kev Baker, from Scotland, interviewed T. Robertson (parapsychologist), she stated that, “It is a good thing I have no religious background.” As to establishing the facticity of paranormal phenomena—which she strongly affirms—her religious beliefs are not that important since she adheres strictly to being rigorously honest in her observations of the phenomena. Analogously, one can be the world’s leading astronomer without any religious faith, if they are rigorously honest in reporting and analyzing the data (though lack of faith inevitably effects how one views the phenomena). I admire Dr. Robertson’s encyclopedic knowledge of the wide variety of Psi. Again, a common ground is afforded people of different faiths (who know paranormal activity occurs) and folks in the paranormal community who tend to focus on the scientific method…or at least the collection of verifiable evidence, as Dr Robertson prefers to call it.
However, when it comes to the cause/origin/purpose of paranormal activity, I must insist on the myth of so-called neutrality—her lack of religious belief DOES seriously diminish Robertson’s ‘objectivity’. In fact, total objectivity is unattainable, nor even desirable. Robertson, as brilliant as she is, must remember that Proverbs 1:7 applies to everyone. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom/knowledge.” If God created the spirit realm, then I humbly suggest that we need His perspective, or we will not be able to answer the second part of my question (origin/identity/purpose).
The issue of presuppositions is so crucial, but I need to move on.
In Kev Baker’s interview, the principle of Occam's Razor was put forth as being very important when dealing with the multiplicity of paranormal phenomena, and the differing explanations. Occam's Razor goes like this: when you have multiple possible explanations for the same phenomena, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.
Earlier, I had mentioned the distinction between establishing the factualness of the plethora of paranormal, and the IDENTITY/ORIGIN/PURPOSE of each of these paranormal phenomena. I trust that makes sense. For example, it is one thing to establish that shadow figures are facts, and asking the question: what ARE they?
If you take that long litany of paranormal phenomena listed above, people in the paranormal community have a wide range of opinions on their origin, identity, and purpose. For example, Dr. Robertson asserts that some poltergeist activity is due to deceased humans trying to communicate with loved ones, but other poltergeist activity is traced to interior, living human, psychic forces, often connected to an adolescent. That introduces some measure of complexity regarding the origin and identity of poltergeist activity. Frankly, how does one (in a scientific manner) determine which one it is? The point I wish to stress is that poltergeists are just one of a growing number of Psi that have a complexity surrounding them in the paranormal community. ‘Interior psychic forces’ is easy to say over and over, but not as easily explained in scientific manner.
Let’s look at the commonly held view that there are basically four different kinds of hauntings: intelligent human, non-intelligent/residual, poltergeist, and demonic. I have spent the last seven years analyzing each of these alleged forms of haunts….much in my book—Seeing Ghosts through God’s Eyes.
According to many in the paranormal community, residual haunts are a very common form of haunting, if not the most common. That fact itself, should make it incumbent upon us to do as Socrates said…to lead an examined life! I am NOT a scientist, but I did some basic, common-sense analysis of the notion of an energy-entrapment leading to cyclic ‘re-enactments.’ I wrote three or four lengthy blogs on the subject—challenging it on the grounds that it contradicted the second and third laws of thermodynamics….which introduces incredible complexity (or lack of simplicity) To date, I don’t know of a single sustained reply—I may be wrong, but I’m unaware of any. I’m not patting myself on the back, but I am humbly trying to help folks see where Occam’s Razor would lead us. The simplest answer tends to be the correct one.
What I have discovered is that many of the paranormal phenomenon mentioned above usually involve an incredible array of varying possible origins or identities…not to mention the purpose behind it. Elementals originate in one way, poltergeists another way, residual haunts in yet another, ect, ect. The mechanism allegedly changes from one phenomenon to the next. That is NOT simplicity regarding explaining the phenomena!
2 Corinthians 11:14—the angel of light principle-- is a simple, but not simplistic, means of explaining all true paranormal phenomena (except miracles and that which is angelic, and they don’t play games). Satan and his minions are at war with us, and they will use their very considerable intellects, power, and imagination to lob as many ‘grenades’ at us as possible. Every paranormal phenomenon that I listed above—from automatic writing to a zoo-ful of demonic animals—is easily explainable via the agency of Satan/demons, especially since we are near to Jesus’s return.
Appearance= reality may work in the natural realm, but not in supernatural realm. I am glad that I have ‘religion” (Jesus and bible) because we are given information from the Creator of heaven and earth, and ALL that is in it….which we cannot acquire on our own.
Back to Ockam’s Razor: which explains all the paranormal phenomena in the simplest fashion? One agent/cause….one identity behind all paranormal phenomena, with one consistent purpose (deceiving and destroying us), OR a view that has numerous explanations/mechanisms for every phenomenon? If Christianity is true, then what we are experiencing is exactly what we would expect….increased activity. Otherwise it is just a guessing game as to identity….nothing in science can block or take into account the angel of light principle.
Some folks think more visually…see if this helps.
Creation/fall Cross Second Coming
In the flow of human history, there is a continuity of paranormal/demonic activity with humans—which began at the Fall, increases at first/second comings of Christ, due to Satan’s frustrated anger. This visualizes that, amidst all the vast diversity of paranormal activity, there is a unity of origin, purpose, and identity. Simple, but not simplistic, diagram of the unity amidst all the incredible diversity of quantity and nature of demonic activity. All the Psi is accounted for in the entire flow of human history. (each ‘o’ on the scale represents some Psi activity) Obviously, the diagram is not to scale, but it shows the linear movement of history, and the Psi involved in its flow.
On the other hand, without a biblical view of history and demonic activity, there is nothing but chaos when trying to bring order out of the vast diversity of Psi throughout human history.
The second diagram is meant to show chaos….much diversity, but no unifying ‘force’ to show how they are connected in any meaningful, consistent fashion.
Without the God of the bible, history has no meaningful beginning, and no meaningful end…..all the Psi is dis-connected….no way to bring unity to all the diversity of paranormal activity. The true origin, nature, identity, and purpose of entities/activity must remain a mystery. One can only fixate on single datum and try to explain it by appearance.
An analogy is the continuing search of physicists for a unified theory that would explain all the forces at work in the cosmos…underlying this search is an awareness of a profound unity amidst the staggering diversity.
In physics, a unified field theory (UFT), occasionally referred to as a uniform field theory, is a type of field theory that allows all that is usually thought of as fundamental forces and elementary particles to be written in terms of a single field. (Wikpedia)
Similarly, the teaching of the bible in general, and especially the Creation/Fall/Redemption meta-narrative, provides from Genesis to Revelation, a profound unity amidst the staggering diversity of details revealed in the bible—including the beginning of paranormal activity, it’s purpose, and their identity. The line above represents all of paranormal/demonic activity within the flow of human history, over which the Living God is absolutely sovereign. I have not included the miracles of God, nor angelic activity, in this discussion. Hence, the biblical model provides us with a ‘unified field theory’ which brings unity to all the vast diversity of paranormal activity, from the ancient past up until today. It not only acknowledges the vast variety of paranormal activity, but insists that all of it ultimately emanates from the same source…providing us with the source, purpose, identity of all Psi.
While non-biblical theories can ascertain the reality of paranormal activity (by borrowing from selected aspects of a biblical worldview….e.g. the foundation for the scientific method), it takes a staggering and confusing multiplicity of different explanations/methodologies in their attempt to explain the identity, origin, and purpose of many of these different phenomena. In other words, the non-biblical methods of attempting to explain paranormal phenomena is becoming increasingly complex, and often at odds with accepted scientific laws….while the biblical view has a beauty of simplicity. Occam’s Razor most certainly confirms the bible as the simplest, and most comprehensive, explanation of the multiplicity of paranormal phenomena, without resorting to reductionism.
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.