Wednesday 10 July 2024

Belief in the supernatural/ paranormal/ occult phenomena

I don't know how unusual it is; but I find that I combine a firm belief in the reality of many supernatural/ paranormal/ occult phenomena; with an almost 100% reflex dis-belief in the objective reality of nearly-all specific examples of these phenomena, by nearly everybody.  

So, although in principle I am convinced of the reality of - in no particular order - telepathy, ghosts, miracles, synchronicity, personal destiny, magic, purposive personal evil (demons), angels, fairies... Nonetheless, I am very sceptical of the objective truth of almost every single report of such things I have encountered. 

Even among people whom I respect and trust; I find I often do not believe the specific truth of what they say or write... 

And indeed; to my mind, across such people, they have said and written a vast range of incompatible and often incoherent things. If I tried to base my life upon believing the specific information (facts and understandings) of even those relatively few sincere persons who I respect and trust - I would nonetheless be building my faith on a seething mass of sand, rubble, and water - not on solid rock!   

Something seems to happen in the process of communicating such phenomena; in the transfer of knowledge between the personal realm and public discourse, such phenomena become (to me) un-convincing: not something I feel that has the kind of validity upon which I could depend.

Thus, in almost every instance of reading or hearing about such things, I feel a rising sense of mistrust and rejection. 

This is confirmed by the apparent fact that such communications seem to take place in the context of sub-cultures of cultivated credulity: I mean groups of people who (it seems to me) have a kind of pact of mutual-belief. I have studied several of these in some depth; and this is how such groups seem to work - I mean on the basis of a tacit agreement to believe (almost...) any and all such such claims.  

This is why I try to refrain from ever communicating my own such experiences; because I know that they will be unconvincing to others, that there are many alternative mundane explanations, they can be explained-away or else my own honesty and competence will be rejected - and therefore in making such communications I feel an almost irresistible temptation to persuade, exaggerate, distort - and I assume others do also.

This is an interesting and significant metaphysical situation - I mean, one in which a whole world of vitally-important phenomena cannot (apparently) accurately and honestly be discussed in objective public discourse. 

Yet that does seem to be the actual situation! 

We can publicly discuss and analyse these matters in-general and in-principle; but, seemingly, not specifically. 

Note added: As I've said a few times before; I think the reason for this mismatch between personal and public knowledge is an important aspect of our times and place, and the nature of human consciousness as it has become. It is one aspect of the change from a pooled and mutually-aware group consciousness, to the greater freedom and agency - but also "alienation", cut-off-ness, isolation - of spontaneous human awareness and thinking. The point is not to resist or attempt to reverse this change; but to accept and take responsibility for the fact and necessity of our free agency. Explicitly to take personal responsibility for choosing our own fundamental assumptions about the true nature of reality - rather than (as in earlier eras) aspiring passively to obey "authoritative" external sources of validation.   


Mark In Mayenne said...

You can believe this or not: I remember "waking up" in the womb and I remember being born and the struggle to live t1hat followed. Before my final Degree exam I *knew* what one of the questions would be. I have other strange knowings.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MIM - I am automatically sceptical, as I said I would be; in the sense that I would not allow such reports as yours to make any difference *at all* to my life or belief system. That's the acid test of "belief".

Bruce Charlton said...

Wolfgang left a comment:

Hi Bruce,
turning around to god ("metanoia") means accepting that all has been created by a supernatural, loving force - well... God. However, when one has accepted the supernatural, loving God and then starts looking at the world and reading scripture one simply cannot avoid the conclusion that the opposite (satanic, demonic) forces do exist and are at play, particularly at this point in time. And the bible is full of it and even Jesus Christ encountered Satan and was tempted by him.

To give you an example where I saw such satanic forces at play: I cannot believe that a group of sinister and rich guys (Freemasons, Bilderbergers or who ever) would be able to pull off the feat of convincing 5.5 billion people to take an untested gene therapy against a disease that has never been a big deal for most people in the first place. Applying [Occam's] razor, the simplest explanation for this phenomenon is one single satanic force driving everyone involved in this same direction. An Italian philosopher named Giorgio Agamben rightly observed that the [Birdemic] crime involved only accomplices but no offenders (in the sense of penal law). Well, I think we can guess who the "offender" was in this case: Satan.
Talking openly about such conclusions isn't easy - particularly as a natural scientist, as I am one - since A) no one really wants to be seen as a complete fool (and that's the common view of people "who trust the science" - but I stopped caring...) and B) we are still "of the flesh" and only half way "of the spirit" and as long as we are in this body and on this earth we will always be in the tension between applying "earthly explanations" for the phenomena that we observe and "spiritual ones". Perhaps here lies the difficulty.
It's funny how you often put into words what is currently on my "metaphysical mind" ;-)
Best, Wolfgang

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wolfgang - I agree with you.

It's very important indeed to acknowledge the reality of Satan. Including in my own life.

It's just that when I hear specific report of somebody else's demonic experiences, I seldom find them convincing.

It may be there is some kind of a "spiritual law" at work; that these experiences are For the person who experiences them, for that person to dwell-upon and learn-from - and the experiences are perhaps negated by the attempt to make them public - even when done with good initial motivations.

jack pixley said...

Delete me, but this is my favourite post yet.

Stephen Macdonald said...

Once again Dr. Charlton manages to express an idea that galvanized me instantly. Even though I had never thought this through in the way he expresses here, I knew immediately at a deep level that which he describes. I was simply never able to express these ideas that were apparently latent within me somewhere.

In any case, this has been precisely my experience of such phenomena: I know them to be real; I am automatically skeptical of any and all reports. I even second-guess myself in this regard.