Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Rational Review of the Notion of Residual Haunts

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Recently I reviewed a book ‘Limestone and its Paranormal Properties’ by a friend, Tim Yohe.

In this thought provoking book, he theorizes that limestone can retain energy. Hence, it would make an excellent medium to explain the mechanism for residual haunts. Tim admits that the popular Stone Tape Theory had been accepted by many in the paranormal community, even though it lacked a mechanism to explain how it worked.

I will not re-hash my review of his book but what follows is my basic reply to any concept of energy being trapped and later released to display all kinds of seemingly intelligent paranormal activity…but is allegedly non-intelligent.

Perhaps no concept is so universally assumed to be true in the paranormal community than that of a residual haunt.  Along with intelligent haunt, poltergeist, and demonic, the residual haunt is alleged to one of four forms of haunting. However, there is a strong consensus amongst many paranormal investigators that the residual haunt is the most common type of haunt. In fact, for most, the vast majority of paranormal activity is attributed to residual activity (not all agree). For this reason alone, the notion of residual haunt is of immense importance. One is left to wonder why there is so little self-reflection within the paranormal community regarding this topic-it is simply assumed to be true. Tim’s book (and my blogs) are the only attempts I know of that either attempt to explain or debunk the notion of residual haunts. Tim admits this (re his book anyway) in his recently published book. My purpose here is to show that it is a vacuous notion, with no basis in fact.

But many who believe this notion are dear friends and all are image-bearers of God—may mercy, grace, and love attend our spirited debates!

For the sake of those without prior knowledge, a residual haunt is a paranormal hypothesis which states that inanimate materials can absorb some form of energy from living beings, during moments of high tension ( e.g. traumatic death). This stored energy can be released, resulting in a display of the recorded activity. These "hauntings" are not intelligent but simply non-interactive recordings similar to a movie or a tape recorder.

A moments communion with common sense reveals the crucial role, for good or ill, that this widely-accepted belief entails.  It either has tremendous explanatory power, or Satan has us whipped. The stakes are high and Christians cannot afford to be wrong on this one--too much is at stake.

This is a relatively complex issue, so I have decided to break it down into manageable segments. In this section I want to focus on how the concept of residual haunts is contradictory to science-in particular, how it is contrary to the laws of thermodynamics. This will be an argument from science and not explicitly from the bible-all truth is God's truth.

This may surprise you because oftentimes folks will appeal to the First Law of Thermodynamics (law of energy conservation) in support of either intelligent ghosts or residual haunts. The argument goes like this: since energy cannot be destroyed, then when people die, their energy has to go somewhere. With what I consider several steps of logic missing in-between, the conclusion is then made that this provides a scientific basis for intelligent or trapped spirits. Regarding residual haunts, it is stated that the first law (conservation) also can explain why these alleged non-intelligent haunts can morph and move so remarkably-it is simply energy changing its form.

However, there are THREE Laws of Thermodynamics, and the Second law is particularly overlooked in this discussion. The Second Law of Thermodynamics deals with entropy of energy. Energy experiences entropy until thermal equilibrium has been reached. This law explains why perpetual motion machines are impossible in the world God has created. All scientific laws, like gravity, have been woven into the fabric of His universe-ensuring that the cosmos coheres and works-and that it is discoverable. But we digress...

To help explain how the second law works, consider what would happen if you took a glass of water and put several drops of red food coloring in it. Immediately, the red drops will begin to disperse-without agitating or stirring the contents. This dispersion will continue until the red food coloring has reached equilibrium-it has been evenly distributed throughout the container. In the end, you have pink water all throughout the glass!

In like fashion, when energy has been released from its container (bio-electric energy from human body), then it will disperse until it has reached equilibrium in surrounding environment.  Though the energy has not been destroyed, it has been very significantly "watered-down".Just as it would be impossible for the food coloring to stay clustered in the center of the glass (unless acted upon by an outside agent), so it would be impossible for released energy to remain clustered somewhere in the environment.

It is vital to note at this point, that the Laws of Thermodynamics are considered by scientists to be absolute-there are no known exceptions.Though the Laws of Motion are, at least theoretically, seen to be non-absolute, that is not the case with thermodynamics. For example. The Second Law is considered to hold true across the board, regardless of circumstances. This is important to keep in mind, especially if one simply dismisses my argument by saying, "Well, the paranormal realm is full of mystery and energy acts differently in that realm." A thousand times no! That line of "logic" is known as special pleading, and is logical fallacy. Also, energy is energy. We quantify paranormal energy all the time-why question an absolute law of science at this juncture?

Consider this scenario: in my hometown there was a bloody battle during the War for Independence.  It is also where I had my first paranormal experience; I saw a shadow figure decked out in military garb of that era. Many consider battlefields to be the classic example of perfect conditions for the creation of residual energy. How did that happen?

The violent fashion in which these men died is said to do two things: it violently releases the bio-electric energy of these young men; and it creates "shock waves" due the violence involved.  All this emotionally charged energy is then absorbed into the surrounding environment-in this case it would have been the soil beneath their feet and the air around them (there is nothing else around to be absorbed into).

For arguments sake, suppose there is an explosion of emotionalized energy when the guns go off.  This release of energy "hits" the soil (or the interior brick wall if you are in a building). Suppose further, it even penetrates the soil or brick. The alleged result is a cluster of energy that provides the basis for residual paranormal activity...a cluster of energy that is sufficient enough to cause all manner of paranormal activity.

This is where the residual theory slams head-first into an absolute law of science.  ANY energy that was emitted by this traumatic event MUST immediately begin to disperse until equilibrium has been reached. This is entropy. Like the red drops and the glass of water, the alleged released energy MUST be un-clustered and "watered down". But unlike the glass of water, the new container is the soil, air, or brick. Meaning that the cluster of traumatic, emotionalized energy particles will experience massive entropy or dispersion...losing any and all alleged ability to perform anything. Let me say it another way, the explanation for residual haunts contradicts one of the most absolute (no known exceptions unlike laws of motion) laws of nature.

Without the energy remaining clusterized indefinitely, then the whole foundation for residual haunt collapses, and the entire superstructure with it.

Unless there is an exterior force acting upon the released energy cluster created by the violent deaths, then the clusters of energy will immediately experience entropy. The same holds true of the walls of a penitentiary or asylum. The way some folks talk you would think that inanimate matter (walls) has assumed human characteristics. The walls do not "witness" anything because it is brick or rock. Once again, no matter how much violent energy has been released within those walls, in every case the alleged energy MUST have dispersed immediately. It  makes no difference if it is quartz or whatever-energy may conduct better through some material, BUT IT CANNOT BE STORED THERE FOR EVEN A SECOND.

Consider the most powerful display of the release of energy in nature-lightning. When it hits an object, how long does that object remain "energized"? How long does the energy remain clustered in the tree? If lightning hits a tree, then a second after the strike this massive amount of energy has virtually disappeared. Compare this with the relatively tiny amount of energy allegedly released during a traumatic death. If...if there is any release, it is gone IMMEDIATELY...the victim of entropy.

Remember, energy is energy, and we need to stop anthropomorphizing it personal traits-even if these personal traits are "non-intelligent" (that gave me a headache because it is so absurd) Unless you create a different category of energy unknown to science, then it must obey the law of entropy and quickly move out to equilibrium.

I am not going to drag this out. The only thing I would reiterate is that entropy of released energy is immediate and quick...much quicker than the food coloring analogy. Next week I examine other issues related to residuals. For now, science...SCIENCE tells us that what I saw on the battlefield was not a residual playback. (interesting that it took off when provoked biblically).


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.  

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