Ghosts, Truth Encounter, and Things that go Bump in the Night

Occasionally, I watch these ghost hunter or ghost buster shows on TV. Some (I will call “ghost hunters”) claim that they are being objective… but clearly they are hoping to find evidence of the paranormal, thus evidencing the inadequacy of a naturalistic view of the world. The others (I will call “ghost busters”) also claim to be objective… but clearly they are hoping to debunk the paranormal and restore faith in a naturalistic model of the world.

Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both groups use the same tools (night vision, heat sensors, EMF detectors, etc.), go to the same types of places (those considered haunted or centers of paranormal activity) and both groups get essentially the same data (strange images and sounds, and difficult to interpret spikes on dials and such).

Both groups then try to link the phenomena to “natural” causes. Those phenomena that appear to have a very obvious link to natural causes are discounted. (Note: neither group actually proves such causation, but both feel it prudent to assume natural causation for many occurances.)

At this point in time, the two groups diverge.  What do you do when you find no obvious natural causation.

Ghost hunters tend to mark the unexplained as paranormal.

Ghost busters tend to mark the unexplained as potentially normal.

In truth, neither group is particularly convincing in their arguments. One group gets an EVP that sounds like static and they claim to hear a clear voice saying something. But is that true or just trying to force meaning into noise? The other group takes a EVP that actually does sound like a voice message and start talking about picking up stray human voices or signals from unknown origins. But solving a mystery by creating a natural source is hardly objective, is it?

Both groups drift into fantasy quite quickly. Ghost hunters will talk about paranormal activity increasing where there is high EMF and high EMF is common where there is running water. Is there any justification for this causation? Ghost busters talk about the possibility that high EMF causes hallucinations or paranormal activity inside the minds of people. But isn’t that simply creating a fantasy theory to deal with phenomena that doesn’t fit into one’s fit worldview?

I am a ghost agnostic. That is, I am believe in ghosts as a phenomena (something seen, heard, and felt by people) but I have no real opinion as to what they are… if they are anything at all. In other words, I have no faith of any sort as to the ghost question. But ghost hunters are true believers in ghosts (having faith in their existence, finding evidence for their existence compelling) while ghost busters are also true believers… but believers in naturalism (having faith in their non-existence, finding evidence against their existence compelling).

This of course is the problem with dealing with things outside of our own experience. When one says “You have no proof” he is saying “Your evidence is not compelling,.” It is essentially impossible to have evidence so strong that it is universally compelling. If a worldview or paradigm is so weak as to be destroyed by facts alone, it wasn’t a very robust worldview/paradigm in the first place.

Theists and Atheists essentially exist in the same world with the same facts around us. To be honest, neither worldview is particularly compelling. Both require a certain amount doubtful proposals to deal with evidence against. In Chemistry, the Phlogiston Theory lasted for a long time because evidence supporting it was pretty compelling and it was periodically adjusted to deal with evidence against. The same can be said of the Ether Theory in Physics. There is always evidence for and evidence against any system… so it depends on the faith convictions of each person as to what is more compelling. That is why it can be as easily said that an atheist lives by a form of faith as a theist. Each have faith but of a different type because of the difference in its object. The power of faith is in its object not its intensity.

When we share our faith, it is useful to understand this. When we talk to an agnostic, we are dealing with people with limited faith (unless they have faith in the “unknowability” of answer to the “God question”). On the other hand, if we are dealing with an atheist, we are dealing with a faith system every bit as robust (and often bigoted) as any theistic system. It is doubtful that facts will convince them (unless of course they have long been working through doubts… perhaps through God’s working in their lives already). Facts are more useful to give comfort to Christians that it is intellectually justifiable to be a Christian.

The inability of truth to be compelling is a limitation in Truth Encounter. In the past I have brought up the limitations and general failings of Power Encounter. Power Encounter tends to have ambiguous results and often utilizes the mistaken beliefs of the recipients. Additionaly, Power Encounter has limitations because of the limitations of Truth Encounter. Power Encounter provides evidence towards truth, but evidence can never of itself be compelling. Ahab and Jezebel did not become believers in Yahweh because of the failure of the priests of Baal. Why not? Because they did not find the evidence compelling. Who’s to say that Baal failed?  Clearly the priests failed (they could argue) not their god.

Truth Encounter has its place (and Power Encounter can have its place). But Love Encounter… challenging the selfish, self-serving, bigoted, ethnocentric mindset of people with the broad, selfless, abundant love of God has a much better chance of opening the doors to people’s hearts then impressing them with divine power or boggling their minds with God’s truth.

God’s power is all around us, but is somewhat ambiguous as blessings and trials get mixed up in a mixed up world. God’s truth is all around us, but is still in many ways a mystery that we will never fully unravel this side of eternity. But God’s love… it leaves us in awe and gasping for breath when we truly see it. Since God’s love is usually shown through us… we must seek to first of all be a conduit of God’s love, then a conduit of God’s truth, and then a conduit of God’s power.




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