Science and the Paranormal
By Chas Griffin
Western society is underpinned by two intellectual colossi: Christianity and science. And neither of them are much impressed by anyone interested in ‘the paranormal’. To the Church ‘the paranormal’ reeks of necromancy, possession and exorcism; to science it reeks of superstition and medieval darkness.
But to anyone who has ever taken a dispassionate look at the paranormal, neither of these views seems to be adequate. If we take NDE’s and OOBE’s as examples of paranormal activity, then what we can say for certain about them is that there is no doubt that they happen and that the people who experience them are not mad, superstitious, or possessed. And they do not require exorcism, thank you very much.
What they do require is a rational explanation for what they have experienced.
Unfortunately, neither religion nor science is competent to offer such an explanation. Why is that?
The Church was (still is) very concerned that any interest in the paranormal could easily leach over in to magical practices which would equate with, at the very least, tinkering with powerful and uncontrollable forces, to the detriment of the tinkerer. Hence ‘possession’ and other nasties. The whole business has been carefully swept under the carpet and remains there, ‘occult’.
In the case of science, the key lies in the past, and it begins with The Church and its domination of all areas of Man’s world, including cosmology and all aspects of what might be called ‘spirituality’ or the mental life. The Church insisted that Aristotle’s notion of Geocentricity was The Truth, with two capital T’s. There was no proof, but that didn’t matter. The Church’s authority was all that mattered.
Then Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo proved that Geocentricity was simply wrong. Unthinkable! …but true. The Church was definitely wrong. And if it was wrong about Geocentricity, perhaps it was wrong about all sorts of other things. Heaven? God, even? The Church was powerful and opulent. The populous were poor and exploited . Where was this God of Mercy that the Church kept bleating about? Did he really exist at all?
Centuries passed and rational investigation went from strength to strength in explaining the nature of the world and the universe, while branches of The Church burned each other alive in the name of the Lamb of Peace.
Eventually, in Victorian times, the geologist Lyell proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Earth must be millions of years older than the 6,000 years that the Church insisted upon. This paved the way for the revelations offered by Darwin. Huge time spans could allow for the slow incremental changes in body form that the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection required. It was all so reasonable. The Church was seriously torpedoed, and has never recovered.
This is where science lost its sense of proportion. While condemning The Church for its bigotry and cruelty, it also condemned the flummery, ritual, ideas, and absolutely everything else that they perceived the Church to be about. This included anything they judged to be ‘paranormal’. By ‘paranormal’, they actually meant ‘non-materialist’.
Since Galileo’s day, empirical methods had developed to such a degree that they were taken to be the only legitimate means of knowing anything at all. Eventually, if something couldn’t be measured, it was not important. And if it was not important, it could be neglected, or even laughed at. There came a point in the early C20 when a school of psychology called ‘Behaviorism’ even denied the existence of mind and consciousness itself. (Presumably the originators of this school of thought were not themselves mindful or conscious.)
faded, but it has not gone completely, and most scientists are still resolute
Materialists. Thus they deny that any paranormal event can ever happen, by
definition. Thus they will go to any lengths, occasionally dishonest, alas,
to ‘prove’ that all paranormality is fraud, even the most exquisitely reported
anecdotes or rigorous experiment. This is bad science , of course, but they seem
not to notice this, so wedded are they to Materialism being The Truth (again,
with two capital T’s!).
Not all scientists are so blinkered, of course. In fact all the truly great scientists were non-materialists. As examples, we have Tesla, Maxwell, Faraday, Copernicus, Huxley, Darwin, Wallace, Crookes, Einstein, Pasteur, Newton, and many more. Crookes even conducted experiments in levitation, and would not deny their positive results even when threatened with banishment from the Royal Society. Wallace, the co-originator of ‘Natural Selection’ was persuaded, via experience, that spiritualist mediums were often reliable and accurate. He then became ‘unreliable’, as have many of his successors, not least Rupert Sheldrake, whose non-materialist work ‘A New Science of Life’ was called ‘a book fit for burning’ by no less than the editor of ‘Nature’.
Many people will be surprised to see Darwin in this list, as ‘neo-darwinists’ like Richard Dawkins, with ad lib access to media, have spent decades telling us that Darwin was an atheist. Read ‘Origins’ and decide for yourself. Be sure to read the final (6th) edition though. Many recent reprints have been of the 1st edition whose final sentence is considered to be more suitable to a Materialist viewpoint.
So there we have it… Science has adopted a dogma, which science should never do. This dogma (‘that Life created itself by accident from abiotic elementary chemicals’) is very simply shown to be irrational and multiply paradoxical. It is also unsupported by any evidence at all, despite what Dawkins and co keep telling us. Check for yourself. Nobody has ever made a self-replicating molecule from elementary chemicals.
So, blinded by its own irrational dogma, science continues to deny the possibility of anything paranormal, despite Materialism itself requiring Life to spontaneously erupt from non-life; then Mind from non-mind; and Consciousness from non-consciousness. Each of these spontaneous eruptions breaks at least one fundamental law of science, and also breaks the law of Cause and Effect. In other words they require what science itself would call… magic! How’s that for irony?
In his book ‘DarwinPlus!’, Chas suggests a rational basis for an eventual explanation for NDE’s,
OOBE’s, and most (or possibly all) other paranormal events from telepathy and levitation to ghosts and
déjà vu. Copies are available as a PDF ebook from http://www.thirdleafbooks.co.uk/darwinplus/