Thursday, February 01, 2024


"Now, why are these verses [Isaiah 1:29-31] so confrontational? You can ask that question of so many passages in the Bible, especially in the prophets. Why are these verses so confrontational? God is pressing his point because we trivialize ourselves. God takes us more seriously than we take ourselves." (Ray Ortlund, 31:56 in the audio of his August 25, 2002 sermon here)

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Racism, Classism, And Other Problems In Paranormal Experiences

I've been citing Gregory Shushan's comments on some aspects of paranormal phenomena that don't get discussed much and don't fit well with a lot of popular interpretations of the paranormal. I'll conclude with this post, in which I'll briefly refer to a variety of other examples that people can read more about in Shushan's book.

He often refers to separations of people in the afterlife according to their race, social class, and such in contexts like near-death experiences and mediumship (The Next World [United States: White Crow Books, 2022], e.g., approximate Kindle location 1962). He writes of how it was "common" for there to be racism in mediumistic messages in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (2096). Leslie Flint, a medium, claimed that in the afterlife, "Oscar Wilde lives a life of 'delicious sin' which in Heaven is 'natural' (ibid. 34, 82, 91-3, 102, 108-10, 112)." (1962) Shushan writes:

Racism, classism, and religious intolerance are disturbing trends in the pre-1975 narratives. This has some important ramifications for those who wish to view the afterlife descriptions as genuine, for they indicate either that the next world is truly a systemized bigoted realm, or that the spirit communicators were portraying merely their personal intolerant mind-dependent afterlife. However, the latter possibility is inconsistent with the recurring claim by the spirits themselves that death brings about spiritual transformation….The other possibility is that the information conveyed by spirits was filtered through the mediums' minds and thus overlaid with the institutionalized bigotry of their times….

In any case, we are left with a somewhat obvious conundrum: communication difficulties cannot explain why statements about the afterlife and its denizens could not be clear, specific, accurate, and consistent while evidential information [verifying paranormality] allegedly could. (2086, 2237)

Shushan often refers to errors and apparent inconsistencies among the phenomena, even inconsistencies within the experiences of one individual. At one point, he refers to "yet another contradiction" from a well-evidenced medium (1910). That medium, Geraldine Cummins, "also credited her communicators with some frankly ludicrous statements, such as that there are monkeys in the sun, according to the spirit of Sir Walter Scott." (1879)

Sunday, January 28, 2024

False Prophecies In Near-Death Experiences

Gregory Shushan's recent book on the paranormal and the afterlife discusses a negative aspect of near-death experiences (NDEs) that doesn't get as much attention as it should:

Public revelations "received" during NDEs demonstrate that even if some NDEs might have veridical content, others demonstrably do not. In the early days of NDE research, Kenneth Ring, an American psychologist and an important figure in the field, published an article called "Precognitive and Prophetic Visions in Near-Death Experiences." With data gathered from NDErs in the United States ranging from the 1940s-1970s, he found that prophecies were often conveyed to the experiencer as divine revelation, that is, occurring "in association with an encounter with guides or a being of light." Reminiscent of many historical examples, some NDErs even believed that they had been chosen by their god to deliver his message to people on Earth.

Ring (1982: 54, 6) found that the prophecies in the thirteen cases he analyzed bore remarkable consistencies, including that Earth will suffer devastation on a global scale due to a nuclear event and/or widespread natural disasters, and that this will occur sometime in the late 1980s, with 1988 being the most frequently specified year. A few years later, British psychologist Margot Grey (1985) independently replicated these findings, collecting a number of prophetic NDE visions that were astonishingly consistent with Ring's. Obviously, the prophesied events did not come to pass, demonstrating that the alleged divine revelations were false.

(The Next World [United States: White Crow Books, 2022], approximate Kindle location 714)

For more examples of such characteristics in NDEs, characteristics that support a more subjective view of the experiences, see my collection of posts here.