Thursday, July 10, 2014

Paranormal Maladies

In an earlier post, I linked a recent interview with Stephen Braude. Something that stood out to me when I listened to the interview was the negative or trivial nature of so many of the paranormal phenomena Braude discusses. He discusses some cases in which the negative nature of the phenomenon is widely recognized, like the cases involving shlemazels. But I suspect that much of what isn't treated as negative ought to be thought of that way. I don't know much about ectoplasm, but what I've heard of it suggests to me that it's not something most people would want to experience. I find it repulsive. Braude discussed some organ transplant cases that some people take as evidence of reincarnation, possession, or something similar. Given that these cases only represent a tiny minority of all recipients of organ donation, given that the organ recipient's adoption of the donor's character traits seems so partial (in contrast to taking on more of the donor's traits and doing so more consistently), and given that continuing to live on through your organs in another person's body seems so undesirable, the phenomenon seems better explained as some sort of malfunction rather than the activity of an intelligent agent (e.g., the soul of the organ donor or a demon).

My impression is that people have an inordinate tendency to think of paranormal manifestations as some sort of power that an individual has, something that's advantageous, that elevates the individual above other people. But it looks to me like many paranormal cases involve some sort of malfunction of the person involved. Is telepathy necessarily something positive, for example? There are advantages to having other people's thoughts prevented from mixing with your own. Why think of something like producing ectoplasm or taking on the traits of an organ donor as advantageous in itself (considered apart from whatever fame, money, etc. it may lead to)? Sometimes being normal is better than being paranormal. I think a large percentage of paranormal phenomena make more sense if viewed as maladies rather than benefits. And there doesn't seem to be much reason to suspect demonic activity in most of these cases. I imagine humans have a lot of paranormal characteristics that don't come from demons, and many of those are disadvantageous rather than advantageous. Just as our bodies can malfunction, so can other aspects of our being. And there's a lot we still don't know about how our bodies operate.

Notice how weak, inconsistently manifested, unvaried, and insignificant these paranormal phenomena tend to be. By contrast, the paranormal manifestations of Jesus are so strong, consistently manifested, varied, and significant, accompanied by so much confidence and such high authority claims. You could adapt Mark 1:22, "he was acting as one having authority and not as these modern practitioners of the paranormal". Much of what's documented in the modern world, with several billion people and so much more knowledge and technology available to us, doesn't even rise to the level of what we'd expect a demon to do.


  1. Much of what's documented in the modern world, with several billion people and so much more knowledge and technology available to us, doesn't even rise to the level of what we'd expect a demon to do.

    In one sense I agree. It seems highly unlikely that ALL the various phenomena are demonic in origin. But in another sense, I don't think we can easily dismiss what demons may or may not do. While demons are highly intelligent, I'm not sure they're always consistently rational. With all that demons knows, any form of evil on their part is an expression of irrationality. They know that God exists and yet continue to pile on their guilt knowing it'll lead to greater future punishment on their part. It's also the height of irrationality to fight against the omnipotent God, yet they continue to do so.

    Demons might sometimes be mischievous, looking to do strange things just for the sake of entertaining themselves and not necessarily always seeking the damnation of human beings as their primary purpose. Demonic motivations may be more complex than we can imagine.

    1. Even humans enjoy pulling pranks and creating hoaxes (e.g. UFOs, crop circles etc.) for the sake of watching others peoples reactions.