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<Herman's Hermit>
Is the case of the supernatural closed?

The American Psychological Association, last year (2000) published: __Varieties of Anomalous Experience : Examining the Scientific Evidence __ , edited by Etzel Carde�a, PhD; Steven Jay Lynn, PhD; and Stanley Krippner, PhD. Among many other types of "anomalous" experiences, they included discussions of Altered States of Consciousness , Near-Death Experiences, Anomalous Healing Experiences and Mystical Experience. As one contributor noted, we must "carefully traverse the narrow path between the abysses of uncritical acceptance and outright dismissal of anomalous experiences."

In the 1988 Eddington Memorial Lecture at Cambridge, Brian Pippard, in his "The Invincible Ignorance of Science" said: "It is tempting for the scientist ... to dismiss religious experience as a delusion. But when we have chased out the mountebanks there remain the saints and others of transparent integrity whose confident belief is not be be dismissed simply because it is incovenient and unshared."

In her book __The Fire in the Equations__, Kitty Ferguson writes: "To dismiss belief in God summarily is to pass premature and unwarranted judgement on the sanity, honesty and integrity of a vast number of our fellow human beings who claim to have such experiential evidence, many of them the same persons we trust implicitly when it comes to other matters."

There is a tendency nowadays to capitulate to the philosophy of scientific materialism and thereby attempt to explain away all anomalous experiences on a priori grounds but this is not even good science; rather it is a drawing of conclusions based on presuppositions of substance and not of method.

In cases of healing in the Catholic Church, doctors watching the case are asked whether the cure is "natural? or naturally inexplicable?" and not whether it's a miracle, since miracles are
interventions of God's power and God's power is not a datum of medical science. But if the doctors say "naturally inexplicable," then the Church may choose to accept the cure as a miracle, and as an evidence of the holiness of the Saint to whom the patient or her friends have prayed. There is no problem about "proof by absence of proof". This is the "argument from silence" in a medical context. And it is a perfectly valid argument.

When it comes to private revelations, such as through alleged apparitions, some believe unhesitatingly everything they contain, and are annoyed when anyone does not share their confidence; others give the revelations no credence whatsoever (but generally on a priori grounds). The Church takes a more reasoned approach when it approves private revelations, declaring only that there is nothing in them contrary faith or good morals, and that they may be read without danger or even with profit; no obligation is thereby imposed on the faithful to believe them.

Even when it comes to public revelations, universal revelations, which are contained in the Bible or in the depositum of Apostolic tradition transmitted by the Church which ended with the preaching of the Apostles and are to be believed by all who would want to be called Catholic, the Church does not profess that reason, alone, or reason unaided by faith should ever compel the nonbeliever.

Those materialists who would dismiss the historicity of the Resurrection Event on a priori grounds are unreasonably ignoring an incredible body of historical evidence, evidence which is so compelling that even an intellectually honest skeptic would be forced to at least acknowledge that those who believe what the Church teaches about this mystery are not being unreasonable.
On public revelations, we are not asked to accept them blindly or against the dictates of reason. On private revelations, the Church's attitude of reserve seems more credible than that of its worst critics who uncritically dismiss evidence for anomalous experiences out-of-hand based not on scientific findings but on a priori philosophical presuppositions.

What do you think about the case for or against the supernatural especially as regarding modern day healings and apparitions?

What about those, even within our Tradition, who go so far as to demythologize, not just Gospel and other New Testament miracles but the Resurrection Event itself?

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Hi HH,

First, please note that I transferred your thread on kundalini-tongue-speaking to the kundalini forum. It might get more attention there from those who are interested in that topic.

Thanks for opening this discussion on the supernatural. One problem, as you've alluded to, is that anything which can be explicitly and irrefutably attributed to the supernatural must be just that: super - natural, or beyond what can be explained through science or reason. As science pushes this border farther and farther out, phenomena which were once considered supernatural come into the realm of natural explanations so that even faith-healing can now be understood in terms of how positive thoughts affect the immune system, etc. And an understanding of depth psychology goes a long way toward explaining visions, locutions, and other "miraculous" phenomena.

Still, I'm not sure how the fact of existence itself can fail to strongly suggest the supernatural. Nature cannot explain or account for itself, as many scientists have intuited. The resurrection of Jesus is another matter that would seem to belong to the realm of the supernatural.

Nevertheless, in the end, as you know, it does come down to faith. And we do need to recognize the many "implicit" evidences of the supernatural. Forgiving an enemy, loving the unlovable, going on when we are hopeless--all these ways that God breaks in through Nature give evidence of the existence of the supernatural. Of course, in all these cases, we must "believe, that we may see." That seems to be the rub, doesn't it?

Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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