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paranormal phenomena

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Religion and Paranormal Phenomena
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Introduction
According to existing data, the majority of the American population, believes in paranormal phenomena. (Irwin, 1993). How, and what they believe has been subject to a myriad of speculations with the passing of the years. Most of the speculations regarding the subject have been on the grounds of parapsychological investigation and empirical assessment. Despite the investigations, scientists and skeptical have yet to find the real causes around paranormal phenomena. There are a few types of alleged psychic abilities related to paranormal, religious experiences. For instance, extra-sensory perception, which is the capacity to receive information via channels of communication that are not seen, nor scientifically recognized (Wiseman & Watt, 2006). A popular culture example of extra-sensory perception can be found in possessions and exorcisms. Where a person is affected by an unknown force and starts to act according that entity’s wishes, unable to control its actions. When a person is possessed, it offers people information the person would not know and speaks in tongues unknown to the possessed person. Extra-sensory perception includes clairvoyance; telepathy, and precognition (Wiseman & Watt, 2006). In the same way, religious paranormal experiences could rarely include psychokinesis, which refers to the ability to influence on external devices without biological means. An example of psychokinesis that is widely featured in faith healing, where a person channels the powers of an unknown force, or a godly entity to influence the healing or the well-being of an individual.

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Concerning paranormal phenomena, if we are to understand what it is, and how it works, we have to see it in context. For instance, in religion, regardless of their confessions, faith means trust; belief; and obedience to something bigger than us; God, or whatever deity people choose to believe in (Levin, 2009). In this case, faith is belief acted on, with a person as an instrument that affects another person’s body, and mind through the force of its faith (Levin, 2009). To theologians, faith healing is faith put into action, used to create a sense of well-being and optimism that will eventually lead to a person’s cure.
In this essay, we shall focus on the paranormal phenomena and its association with religion. We aim to show how paranormal beliefs and religious beliefs intertwine, creating a status of well-being in the person that has been healed. In the same way, we aim to provide a rebuttal to the arguments presented, to create a cohesive argumentation. Also, we shall separate all our arguments in those in favor, and those against, to have a thorough discussion.
Discussion
In this section of our essay, we aim to show the arguments for faith healing, and how it can be used to bolster a person’s well-being.
Religious Aspects of Paranormal Phenomena
According to William James, we give the name of “healthy-mindedness” to the tendency the mind has to feel happy about the things immediate to it. In a more abstract way, it is a way of conceiving things as right, disregarding its other aspects (James, 2009). Every religion conceives good as the essential state of the being. In that way, everything that is in the mark of the person’s beliefs and is intended to do well, is regarded as such. Seen from a religious perspective, for a person to be happy, evil cannot simply be believed in, nor regarded as something greater than good. The person who believes that paranormal devices such as faith healing has to innate belief that it will do good, and leave the rest in the hands of a greater power, that might be God, or whatever the person chooses to believe in. In the same way, people with strong religious beliefs might view a paranormal phenomenon such as faith healing as a divine intervention done by God, through a human instrument. In a strict sense, a religious person might believe that God itself interacts with humans, but it would be hard for them to think that a regular person has psychic abilities (Kennedy, 2004). Belief in paranormal phenomena is greater among those who are spiritual, regardless of their religious confession. In that way, the relationship of paranormal phenomena, and religion is not necessarily pegged to a religious confession.
Also, there are many theories concerning the relationship between religion and the paranormal. As we have researched, those outside a mainstream religion are more likely to embrace paranormal phenomena. In the same way, there are authors that consider that religious individuals are more liable to hold paranormal beliefs. In Western cultures, the “paranormal” occupies an attractive place in the middle of science, and religion. It is not a religion, nor science, but something in the middle. In the same way, some fringe religious groups use paranormal beliefs to spice their beliefs and add them more depth (Bader et al. 2012). In the same way, paranormal beliefs and experiences exist in a niche where religiosity and paranormal studies cohabitate in the common folk imaginary. In the same way, paranormal beliefs are positively tied to the imaginary of the people regardless their religion. In that way, paranormal phenomena, and their inclusion in the human’s life is not related to religion, but to the collective unconscious (Bader et al. 2012)
Religious vs. Non-Religious
There is a difference between religion and spirituality. In this case, paranormal phenomena are closely related to spirituality, rather than to religion. When we consider paranormal phenomena in a religious context, we have to think it as a subject of the religious experiences. On the other hand, when thinking about the paranormal phenomena in a non-religious context, it is linked to spirituality and to experiences related to beliefs that are not into a religion. (James, 2009). However, research have shown that paranormal experiences; psychic experiences; spirituality and religion might be mutually interacting and reinforcing (Kennedy, 2004). In a strict sense, there is not a difference between believers, and non-believers when it comes to paranormal phenomena. For instance, some other researchers have suggested that paranormal beliefs share many traits with religious beliefs and spirituality. However, given the fact that there is no such thing as an empirical evidence on the subject of paranormal phenomena, its relation to religion is seen as something that is not completely institutionally accepted. Also, the difference regarding paranormal phenomena, and the rest of the spiritual beliefs is that those phenomena are transitory, and spiritual beliefs refer to a stable set of thoughts. In that way, members of religious groups that are stricter tend to regard paranormal experiences as something alien, and, immediately condemn everything in between by doing it. That shows that to some religious denominations, to be part of a paranormal phenomenon is antithetical, and against the religious belief. On the other hand, the non-religious groups do not have those concerns and tend to regard paranormal experiences as part of the spirituality, and of their spiritual beliefs. In that way, the focus of the paranormal phenomena is particular, rather than universal, as they refer to different believers, and it is hard to assess a complete experience. (Aarnio & Lindeman, 2007)
Conclusion
As we could see, while it is possible to investigate empirically the basis of paranormal belief, by doing so, it would strip the phenomena from its paranormal capability, thus rendering it into an everyday occurrence. Also, there is the issue of trust and belief concerning paranormal phenomena. Concerning those phenomena it is possible that every belief relies on optimism; illusion, and a myriad of subjects that are not easily assessable but refer to human psychology and its relations with the beliefs. To believers, it is a matter of faith. While to non-believers the issue is more of an issue of theories, and evidence. Despite it is not easy to find answers concerning the extent of paranormal experiences; it is possible that the scope of those experiences refer to a more thorough understanding of the processes of the mind, and its relation to the beliefs. To many people, faith is the ultimate answer, and to others the lack of empirical evidence draws them to spirituality. In the end, it does not matter if the person is a believer or not, in the end they all see the paranormal phenomena as something they cannot understand, yet believe.
Works Cited
Aarnio, K., & Lindeman, M. (2007). Religious People and Paranormal Believers Alike or Different? Journal of Individual Differences, 28(1), 1-9. doi:10.1027/1614-0001.28.1.1
Bader, C., Baker, J., & Molle, A. (2012). Countervailing Forces: Religiosity and Paranormal Belief in Italy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(4), 705-720. Retrieved from https://www.chapman.edu/wilkinson/_files/crassh/Badar/Countervailing Forces Religiosity.pdfIrwing, H. (1993). Belief in the Paranormal: A Review of the Empirical Literature. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 87(1), 1-39. Retrieved from http://sites.sas.upenn.edu/ghosts-healing/files/para-ac05_irwin_1993-2.pdfJames, W. (2009). The Varieties of Religious Experience. Retrieved from http://csrs.nd.edu/assets/59930/williams_1902.pdfKennedy, J. (2004). The Roles of Religion, Spirituality, and Genetics in Paranormal Beliefs. Skeptical Inquirer, 28(2), 39-42. Retrieved from http://jeksite.org/psi/si04.pdfLevin, J. (2009). How Faith Heals: A Theoretical Model. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 5, 77-96.
Wiseman, R., & Watt, C. (2006). Belief in psychic ability and the misattribution hypothesis: A qualitative review. British Journal of Psychology, 323-338. Retrieved from http://www.richardwiseman.com/resources/review.pdf

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