Tuesday, December 12, 2017

THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD





I think that the logical presentation of an argument offers clarity and appeal. The next chapters are presented in the form of a syllogism – two premises and a conclusion. If the two premises are shown to be likely, then the conclusion is unavoidable.

For an illuminating example:

PREMISES #1: All bachelors are unmarried.
PREMISES #2: John is unmarried.

Conclusion: John is a bachelor

It is easy to see that if we prove that John is unmarried, it automatically means that he is a bachelor.

Similarly, the Cosmological proof argues that the first Cause had to always exist or it too would have required a cause, and only God can fulfill the necessary requirements. Here’s what it looks like

PREMISIS  #1:  All things that have come into existence are caused to exist.
PREMISIS  #2:   If there is no eternal uncaused Causer, then nothing can exist.

Conclusion: Therefore, there must be an eternal uncaused Causer - God.


PREMISE #1 All things that have come into existence are caused to exist:

To deny this is absurd. To illustrate, if I tell you that my cup of coffee just appeared without any cause, you would think me crazy. This is because we never see uncaused things materialize out of nothing.

We reasonably assume that there are causes for any phenomena. That’s why we do science – to discover the causal relationships. Therefore, to deny that phenomena require causes is to reject the basic assumption of science – that everything has a reason or a cause.


PREMISE #2  If there is no eternal uncaused Causer, then nothing can exist:

It follows that something or Someone must be uncaused and therefore eternal in order to explain the existence of everything else. If this ultimate Causer is eternal, there is no need to explain its cause, because it always was.

We cannot conclude that the universe caused itself, because it would first have to exist to cause anything. Nor can we conclude that there was an apparatus that causes universes. Why not? Because, then we would have to ask, “What caused the apparatus.” If we then claim that there is a mechanism that causes this apparatus, then we would again have to ask, “What caused the mechanism?”

This is the problem of an “infinite regress” of causes or explanations. It means that ultimately, there is no cause at the end of the line where the buck stops. It also suggests that no explanation is ever adequate without an uncaused and eternal Causer.

The eternal can’t be a something – the universe or some part of it. Matter and space cannot exist apart from time, and time could not have been eternal. This would have required that an infinite number of years to have already passed to arrive in the present – a logical impossibility. Why? Because only a finite number of years could possibility have been accomplished to bring us into this moment! It’s impossible for an infinite number of years to have already passed. Infinity knows no limits.

Therefore, the eternal Cause must be Transcendent. He must transcend time and space and exist apart from the time-bound universe.

Big Bang cosmology also maintains that the universe – time, space, and matter – had a beginning in time. According to Stephen Hawking:

·       “Almost everyone now believes that the universe and time itself had a beginning in the Big Bang!”

Besides, the law of entropy argues against an eternal universe, since by now, after an infinite amount of time, everything in the universe would have dissipated. Besides, if the universe had been expanding infinitely, space and matter would also be infinite. However, modern science denies that any of these are infinite.


CONCLUSION: This leaves us face-to-face with an intelligent Being who transcends time, space, and materiality, a Being who has the causal power to produce everything else.


Challenges:

Many atheists argue that we know so little about cosmology that we should not embrace any conclusion.

While they are correct about knowing so little, I think that the little we know points to God.

The skeptic will also raise the God-of-the-Gaps argument: “Because we don’t know, you assume that God did it.”

This however misrepresents theistic proofs. Here’s why:

1.    We can just as easily charge the skeptic with Naturalism-of-the-Gaps – Because we don’t know, natural unintelligent forces must have done it.

2.    There does not exist one shred of evidence that causal agents operate naturally and without intelligence or purpose.

3.    The theistic proofs do not conclude, “We don’t know, so God must have done it.” Instead, these proofs compare ID (supernaturalism) with naturalism and demonstrate that ID is the most reasonable conclusion.

Others charge that theistic proofs only make God seem probable and, therefore, are unable to serve as a basis for our faith and relationship with God.

Actually, I agree. Consequently, I do not invoke theistic proofs as a basis for faith but as a defense for faith, a means to challenge the skeptical assaults against the faith. Besides, since I have a highly doubting disposition, I sometimes think through these proofs to silence my doubts, and they do.

Monday, December 11, 2017

ANOTHER FATAL FLAW OF NATURALISM AND EVOLUTION





ANOTHER FATAL FLAW OF NATURALISM AND EVOLUTION

http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2017/12/another-fatal-flaw-of-naturalism-and.html

Both naturalism and the theory of evolution maintain that, through natural selection, we evolved a brain that has conferred upon us many survival advantages. Consequently, we can derive accurate sense data and adaptive thinking about our world.

However, according to the naturalist, there are other aspects of our neurological wiring that produces irrational thinking. Theologian and pastor, Timothy Keller, has written about their inconsistency:

·       Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it’s only because that [irrational] belief helped us survive and so we are hard wired for it. However, if we can’t trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about God, why should we trust them to tell us the truth about anything, including evolutionary science? If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not what is true, why trust them about anything at all?

·       What is not fair is to do what so many evolutionary scientists are doing now. They are applying the scalpel of their skepticism to what our minds tell us about God but not to what our minds are telling us about evolutionary science itself. (The Reason for God, Dutton, 2008, 137-38)

Keller points to the absurdity of evolutionary thinking (natural selection): Irrational and erroneous beliefs (like the belief in God) can have survival value. However, irrational intuitions and erroneous beliefs fail to help us to productively adapt to our environment and life’s challenges. Just try driving a car without accurate visual feedback! Our beliefs and intuitions also provide us with essential feedback. If I believe that my mailman wants to kill me, I will act irrationally. Irrational beliefs produce irrational, maladaptive actions.

Besides, if we cannot trust our thoughts about God, how can we trust them about anything else? C.S. Lewis also reflects on this same naturalistic/materialistic inconsistency when it comes to love and music:

·       You can’t, except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with a girl if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties both of her person and of her character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by the collision of atoms, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from the behavior of your genes. You can’t go on getting very serious pleasure from music if you know and remember that its air of significance is a pure illusion, that you like it only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like it.

According to Lewis, a naturalistic meaningless universe does not accord with our intuitions/beliefs about it. Are these intuitions, which infuse life with meaning and fullness, feeding us a distorted, self-deluding message? Taking the problem further, if our brains are deluding us in these vital areas, how can we trust them to not delude us in other areas upon which our survival depends?

The naturalistic evolutionist also claims that our bio-chemically determined perceptions and intuitions delude us in other ways. Our intuition that we are, to some degree, freely making choices is another “erroneous/irrational” belief. Although we have the intuitive sense that we are freely making decisions each time we go to the restaurant and order a Big Mac with french fries, our genes have deluded us.

Are we mistaken? Have our genes deceived us, of course for survival reasons? If so, because these intuitions of free choice are so basic, if we doubt our freewill, what then can we not doubt? Should we not doubt that perhaps we are individuals rather than part of a corporate consciousness? Should we not also doubt that a physical world exists and that our thoughts and perceptions are all just imaginary? Such doubts would undermine our ability to get out of bed in the morning and go to work, but this is where naturalistic skepticism would lead us.

Consequently, if we doubt our intuitions about freewill, love, the “air of significance” we experience from music, and the existence of God, perhaps we should also doubt everything else about our lives. Everything is then up-for-grabs.

This same problem exists in the area of morality. Naturalism denies the existence of objective moral laws. Instead, it is another erroneous but “adaptive” belief that our genes have imposed upon us.  Consequently, we erroneously intuit that when we violate our conscience, we violate absolute moral laws and deserve punishment. We sense that Someone greater than us is condemning us.

Interestingly, while the naturalistic evolutionist believes that this assortment of erroneous beliefs had once conferred upon us a survival advantage, he is convinced that he has transcended the need for them.

However, it is hard to understand how erroneous thinking and beliefs could possibly give us a survival advantage. Why? Ordinarily, our massively and genetically “deluded” human intuitions should severely interfere with our ability to understand and to make positive adjustments to our environment. And if we are as deluded as the naturalist suggests, how can we trust anything about our thinking! How then can we trust our instincts about human rights, justice, injustice, love, compassion…?

Besides, building costly temples to our God, composing music, and writing poetry to our beloved distract us from the “ultimate” goal of survival. Altruistic behavior might also bring premature death to those who evolve the “deluded sense” that there is something greater than their own immediate welfare.

In contrast to naturalism, the Christian worldview regards all of these intuitions as necessary perceptions about reality and, consequently, our ultimate well-being. These intuitions/beliefs do not delude any more than our ears or eyes delude. Instead, they enrichen our lives immensely, far beyond mundane survival. They allow us to experience depth, awe, the wonder of sunsets and the changing seasons, enjoyment of food, music, and friendship.

If fact, many studies suggest that Christians experience improved physical and mental health and even improved family relationships and sex lives. If Christian beliefs are out-of-step with reality, we should not expect such benefits. While in the short run, rose-colored glasses might temporarily smooth over life’s rough places, in the long run, such glasses present a high price tag in the forms of denial and bad decisions.

Where did these intuitions come from? Not from a blind naturalistic process, which doesn’t care at all about us, but from a God who does care! They enrich us with a sense of purpose and meaning. They even afflict us with guilt and shame when we violate His imprinted moral law and enable us to meaningfully grasp the life He has bestowed upon us.

Even when we were His enemies, hardening our heart and thoughts against Him, He loved us enough to die for us, having given us minds and feelings so that we can seek Him, understand Him, and enter into a glorious and liberating relationship with Him.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

THE DEATH OF GOD AND HOW IT HAS CHANGED THE WORLD






The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, had argued that once we reject the Christian God, we have also rejected Christian values – equality, human exceptionalism, and an entire array of values that go along with them. However, the West naively thinks that they can retain Christian values after “killing” the Christian God. Os Guinness wrote of Nietzsche’s disdain for such blindness:

·       Nietzsche was a self-proclaimed “anti-Christ,” yet he had no time for complacent middle-class thinking that could say, “God is dead” and go on living as before. If God was “dead” for Western culture, then nothing was the same. It was time to face the consequences. (The Journey, 136)

What were the consequences? Anything would now be permissible! With God in the grave, our only moral rudder would be our desires and fears. Hence, the two great wars!

However, as in Nietzsche’s day, so too in ours! Few can perceive the consequences of their rejection of God. Atheists confidently explain:

·       We need not sink into a morally relativistic quagmire once we reject God. We still have absolute moral principles to guide us. For example, drinking water is absolutely good because it promotes survival and survival is absolutely good.

However, what makes survival absolutely good? There no longer exists an absolute principle that makes human survival more important than the malaria-bearing mosquito. Besides, is there anything that establishes that survival-is-good apart from our own subjective judgment? If the mosquito could talk, he might say that his survival is just as important to him as ours is to us. Besides, who can say otherwise with any authority, if God is dead! Is there anything left to argue in favor of laws that protect us over the mosquito, other than human chauvinism? A growing number would now argue, “No!”

This brings us back to moral relativism where morality is entirely relative to how I think and feel on any given morning. In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche wrote:

·       They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to the Christian morality… When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet.

Truly, Christian morality rests upon an absolutely immutable and universal standard – God - but does it really matter? Yes! Our beliefs have consequences. The German Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, noted these consequences back in 1832:

·       It is to the great merit of Christianity that it has somewhat attenuated the brutal German lust for battle. But it could not destroy it entirely. And should that taming talisman break – the Cross - then will come roaring back the wild madness of the ancient warriors.

What would happen once the Cross was broken? Heine continued:

·       And laugh not at my forebodings, the advice of a dreamer who warns you away from the Kants and Fichtes of the world, and from our philosophers of nature. No, laugh not at the visionary who knows that in the realm of phenomena comes soon the revolution that has already taken place in the realm of spirit. For thought goes before deed as lightening before thunder. There will be played in Germany a play compared to which the French revolution was but an innocent idyll.

It is inevitable that, without God, there will be little to restrain the madness. The late psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, reasoned:

·       I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek, were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers. (The Doctor of the Soul)

Thoughts and philosophies precede plans and actions. Historian Richard Weikart, California State University, wrote in From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany about how the anti-God worldview of Darwinism impacted thought and action:

  • By reducing humans to mere animals, by stressing human inequality, and by viewing the death of many "unfit" organisms as a necessary—and even progressive—natural phenomenon, Darwinism made the death of the "inferior" seem inevitable and even beneficent. Some Darwinists concluded that helping the "unfit" die—which had for millennia been called murder—was not morally reprehensible, but was rather morally good. 

Hitler didn’t invent eugenics. He gladly imbibed ideas that had become ripe in the Western world. According to Weikart, Darwinist thinking brought about policy and behavioral change:

  • Those skeptical about the role Darwinism played in the rise of advocacy for involuntary euthanasia, infanticide, and abortion should consider several points. First, before the rise of Darwinism, there was no debate on these issues, as there was almost universal agreement in Europe that human life is sacred and that all innocent human lives should be protected. Second, the earliest advocates of involuntary euthanasia, infanticide, and abortion in Germany were devoted to a Darwinian worldview. Third, Haeckel, the most famous Darwinist in Germany, promoted these ideas in some of his best-selling books, so these ideas reached a wide audience, especially among those receptive to Darwinism. Finally, Haeckel and other Darwinists and eugenicists grounded their views on death and killing on their naturalistic interpretation of Darwinism.

Heine was clearly right. In the same way that lightening precedes thunder, thought precedes deed. In Markings, the later Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold, wrote:

·       God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our loves cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.

Our death takes many forms once we kill God. Jesus had taught: “You are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31). Up to two hundred years ago, such a statement would not have raised an eyebrow. However, today it has become quite controversial within certain circles, where it is claimed that all life is of equal value.

However, most still believe that we are more valuable than sparrows, mosquitoes, and even cows. How do they justify this claim in our post-Christian society? They offer various possibilities, like, “Humanity is more valuable than animals because…

·       We are sentient being, or
·       We feel and love more deeply, or
·       We are intelligent and creative, or…”

However, these criteria of value, by themselves, are totally inadequate to justify our surpassing value. They merely shift the question of value to other unjustified criteria – intelligence, feelings, and creativity. What is able to impart value to these criteria, especially in view of a God-less world that lacks any inherent meaning?

The atheistic philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, was able to perceive this problem in the late 19th century. In The Gay Science (Section 125, The Madman), he wrote:

·       “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

Nietzsche realized that without God, we would now have to “become gods” to arbitrarily and subjectively create our own values. There is no other alternative. However, we encounter another problem when we try to create value in a valueless, meaningless universe.

Besides, our determination of value cannot match God’s. For example, if our value depends on our higher intelligence or sentience, then we have to sacrifice other values, like human equality, in the process.

Why? Well, some of us are more intelligent, conscious, sensitive, or educated than others. Adults are more intelligent than babies and the elderly. They are also more successful and contribute more to society. Do we want a world where our relative value is socially determined according to our performance or status? Of course not! However, when we reject God, we also reject any coherent system of laws and values. Atheist Arthur Leff of the Duke School of Law had written:

·       “The so-called death of God wasn’t just His funeral, but was the elimination of any coherent ethical or legal system…As it stands now, everything is up for grabs…Napalming babies is bad, starving the poor wicked, buying and selling people is depraved—but, ‘Sez who?’ God help us.”

Leff understood that, without God, there exists no basis for any meaningful system of values or laws. Instead, we have banished ourselves into a meaningless, valueless, and lifeless desert, self-condemned to obsessively and hopelessly prove that we do have value. Consequently, it is likely that Heine’s words shall be once again vindicated:

·       It is to the great merit of Christianity that it has somewhat attenuated the brutal German lust for battle.

 

EVIDENCE THAT CONSCIOUSNESS DOESN’T REQUIRE A LIVING PHYSICAL BODY





What if consciousness exists apart from a physical body? It signifies that there is a dimension of existence that affirms the Biblical worldview and lies beyond the grasp of naturalistic explanation. Many would then have to revise their worldview. They would have to acknowledge the existence of the world of spirits and surrender the worldview that they had held – naturalism, materialism, and perhaps even atheism. Instead, it is easier to dogmatically proclaim that spiritual realities are not within the purview of science.

However, it seems that science can speak to the question of consciousness existing apart from a body:

·       Of the 2,060 patients from Austria, the US and the UK interviewed for the study who had survived cardiac arrest, almost 40 per cent said that they recall some form of awareness after being pronounced clinically dead. http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/670781/There-IS-life-after-DEATH-Scientists-reveal-shock-findings-from-groundbreaking-study

·       Of those who said they had experienced some awareness, just two per cent said their experience was consistent with the feeling of an outer body experience – where one feels completely aware and can hear and see what’s going on around them after death.

One man was able to recall the events in the hospital with “eerie accuracy” after he had “died temporarily.”

This finding has often been reported but often ignored. Why? Perhaps Dr. Parnia’s response is illuminative:

·       “The detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events."

·       "This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions.”

These findings are not unusual. Wikipedia reports:

·       In a review article B. Greyson refers to Van Lommel's study (as well as other sources) and mentions that there have been "documented and corroborated accurate perceptions by near-death experiencers of incidents that occurred during the time when the brain was fully anesthetized or deprived of blood flow, as during cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest". B. Greyson also mentions that apparently some patients reported events that occurred beyond what their sense organs could perceive and that would have been impossible for them to perceive even in a conscious state. (Greyson, Bruce (2015-11-09). "Western Scientific Approaches to Near-Death Experiences". Humanities. 4 (4): 775–796. doi:10.3390/h4040775.)

·       Another review article reports that 41 (12%) of the cardiac arrest patients interviewed provided accounts similar to the Sam Parnia's 2001 study. Also, the same review article. One patient had a conventional out of body experience where he reported being able to watch and recall events during the time of his cardiac arrest. His claims were confirmed by hospital personnel. “This did not appear consistent with hallucinatory or illusory experiences, as the recollections were compatible with real and verifiable rather than imagined events”. (Parnia, Sam (2014-11-01). "Death and consciousness--an overview of the mental and cognitive experience of death". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1330: 75–93. doi:10.1111/nyas.12582)

These findings point powerfully to another reality, a spiritual reality, outside of the physical. If this is so, then the existence of a supreme Spirit Being from which all the spiritual entities derive their existence, becomes very probable.

P. van Lommel concluded:

·       How could a clear consciousness outside one's body be experienced at the moment that the brain no longer functions during a period of clinical death with flat EEG?... (the) NDE pushes at the limits of medical ideas about the range of human consciousness and the mind-brain relation. (van Lommel P, van Wees R, Meyers V, Elfferich I. (2001) "Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A prospective Study in the Netherlands" in The Lancet, December 15; 358(9298):2039–45)

Raymond Moody published “Life After Life” in 1975 based upon 150 interviews with people who had claimed NDEs. Cardiologist and assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine, Michael Sabom, had been highly skeptical. However,

·       Over a five year period he interviewed and compiled data on 116 persons who had had a close brush with death. Of these, 71 reported one form or another of near-death experience…Sabom conducted extended interviews with the ten who had detailed recollections, either of resuscitations or surgery. The results were astonishing. In every case, the accounts jibed with standard medical procedures; moreover, where medical records were available, the records of the procedures and the accounts of the patients perfectly matched. In all of these cases, [unconscious] patients observed details that they could not possibly have observed from their physical vantage point. (Patrick Glynn, “God: The Evidence,” 103-104)

Due to reported out-of-body-experiences, some of the subjects were even able to report what was transpiring in the next room. If even some of these many accounts can be trusted, they argue very persuasively for an extra-material existence.

However, such findings are ignored, because they do not fit into the prevailing materialistic paradigm that nothing exists outside of the physical world. To suggest otherwise opens the door to considerations about the existence of God – an inconvenient and uncomfortable truth. However, some evolutionists have even admitted that God must be resisted at all costs:

·       We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs . . . in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated commitment to materialism. . . . we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. (Lewontin, Richard, Review of The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. In New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.)

·       Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic. (Todd, Scott C., "A View from Kansas on the Evolution Debates," Nature (vol. 401. September 30, 1999), p. 423.)

Nevertheless, exploration of the physical world has provided evidence for the spiritual.  The dualistic claim is that the spiritual mind can plug into the physical brain much as sound and sight waves plug into a television to produce programming. Interestingly, the founders of modern neuroscience were dualists:

·       Dualism reigned unchallenged in Western thought until recent times, and the founders of modern neuroscience, Charles Sherrington, Wilder Penfield, and John Eccles, were all dualists (Dinesh D’Souza, “Life After Death: The Evidence,” 108)

Penfield would electrically stimulate the brain but noted that there were responses that seemed to be extra-physical:

·       Penfield would stimulate electrically the proper motor cortex of the conscious patents and challenge them to keep one hand from moving when the current was applied. The patient would seize this hand with the other hand and struggle to hold it still. Thus one hand under the control of the electrical current and the other hand under the control of the patient’s mind fought against each other. Penfield risked the explanation that the patient had not only a physical brain that was stimulated to action but also a nonphysical reality that interacted with the brain. (Lee Edward Travis)

Penfield found that his patients could distinguish between responses that had been electrically stimulated from those self-stimulated, suggesting that some actions, decisions, and beliefs lied beyond the strictly physical:

·       Invariably the patient would respond, by saying, “I didn’t do that. You did…No matter how much Penfield probed the cerebral cortex, he said, “There is no place…where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide.” That’s because those functions originate in the conscious self, not the brain. A lot of subsequent research has validated this. When Roger Sperry and his team studied the differences between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, they discovered the mind has a causal power independent of the brain’s activities. This led Sperry to conclude materialism and false. (J.P. Moreland, interviewed by Lee Strobel, “Case for the Creator,” 258)

If the brain is entirely a physical entity, we should expect that every type of mental activity could be stimulated, but this isn’t the case. In fact, the very notion of freewill contradicts materialism. It affirms the fact that our choices aren’t totally determined by chemical-electrical responses.

The freewill problem is so daunting for the materialist. If everything is matter and energy, there is no room for freewill, something self-initiated. Consequently, the materialist often opts to deny its reality.

To deny dualism is to deny freewill. Materialism comes at a prohibitively high price. It even denies many of the values that even the materialist seeks to retain, like human equality.

Without the God of the Bible, this concept is unsupportable. Why? Materialism can only see human differences in education, sex, strength, appearance, and contributions to society. Consequently, some represent a cost to society while others represent a contribution.

How does all of this address the question of God? Well, I know that there are lying spirits (demons). This firsthand knowledge is important, especially for someone like me, a skeptic by nature, imbued with the Western prejudice against the world of spirits in general.

I have two cousins who used to do the Ouija board when they were 10 and 12. It terrified them, but we adults pressured them to do it at a family event. The results were nothing short of amazing. The disc raced around the board, as the girls placed all four hands upon it, spelling out words as fast as we could record them. The words became sentences, and then thoughts and stories, communicating things that the girls were incapable of knowing and even beyond their ability to express them.

We skeptics then blindfolded them. This didn’t impede their performance in the slightest. Even today, my atheistic family has no natural explanation for what we saw.

I had been so impressed, that I persuaded my girlfriend into doing the Ouija with me. The spirits that we conjured were very liberal in their use of profanity, but answered all our questions. I had naively assumed that they could be trusted, assuming that these spirits were ascended, enlightened beings who had evolved past any interest in lying. We asked them the big question – “Is there a God?” To this, they answered “Ouija!”

My parents had also been burglarized, and so we asked the spirits to disclose the identity of the perpetrators. They gladly identified neighbors of my parents. Immediately, I decided that I would take revenge upon them, but fortunately, the police apprehended the real perpetrators before I could take action.

Since then, through Scripture, I have come to understand these spirit beings as evil, as I should have realized years before:

·       …for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

I reasoned that if there are evil spirit beings, there must also be good spirit beings. More recently, a student told me of her own experiences:

·       As a teenager I often hung out with large groups of people varying in age, some my age and some adults and little children. One week, during the winter, we decided to perform séances for 3 nights. Incidences occurred, but for the first 2 days, I was stuck babysitting the little ones, so I couldn’t see what was happening. I was usually told the next day by someone in the group of by a boyfriend of mine at the time. He would tell me that he couldn’t remember because as soon as the praying or chanting started he would fall asleep and when it was over he would wake up to find that his cross hanging around his neck would be broken and on his lap. When the séances were on although I was in a closed room but I could still hear a lot of commotion going on and even some screams. I had to be at one of these things to see what was going on, so the last night of the séances I decided to speak up and say I didn’t want to take care of the kids that night. I sat with my boyfriend and the chanting/praying started. We were all in a circle sitting around the room I don’t remember holding hands. The person who was the medium was the same for all the nights of the séances. It was a woman and she would sit at the head of the circle in a chair and start the chanting and we all listened. Right away my boyfriend fell asleep and I knew something was going to happen. I looked at the woman and her face seemed darker so I left my chair and approached her out of curiosity. Why was it I could see her body but by her head it looks like a dark shadow was there, so when I came close I noticed her eyes seemed crooked and were looking straight ahead as if she didn’t know I was there. I called her name and she didn’t answer. Someone from the group told me to stay seated and they proceeded to talk to this woman but the voice that came out of her was a man’s voice and very deep. I was a little scared and tried to wake up my bf, but he wouldn’t wake up, so I sat next to him. All of a sudden out of nowhere, the woman started screaming and ran toward the kitchen. Some of the men that were there including her husband ran after her to try to calm her down but the voice kept saying he had to throw her out of the window. Finally after she was pulled to the floor and she was restrained one of the other people started praying over her. After that I decided not to partake in any of those things again, it was too scary. 

I have found that these experiences have been shared by many others, who were only able to find relief by calling upon Jesus. Jungleman, a Yanomamo shaman turned Christian, had been convinced that the spirits he was experiencing were divine god-like beings. However, in Spirit of the Rainforest, he finally confessed:

  • “I wish I had known the truth about [Jesus] when I was a young man—it would have saved me so much pain and misery. But how could I? My spirits lied so much to me and tricked me. They were so beautiful, so wonderful, so hard not to want. They were the best at telling me split-truth. Now I’m at the end of this life, and I’m ready to begin my real life with [Jesus]. (Mark Andrew Richie, 238)

Spiritism comes with a high price-tag. In “The facts on Spirit Guides,” John Ankerberg and John Weldon sound the alarm about this often ignored world. They warn of the strong association between spiritism and mental illness:

  • “One discovers many mental patients who are mentally ill precisely because they are demonized. This is born out by the research of German psychiatrist and parapsychologist Hans Bender who coined the term “mediumistic psychosis’; by theologian and psychologist Kurt Koch; and by clinical psychologist and Swedenborgian Wilson Van Dusen, who has examined thousands of patients and noted the parallels to spiritistic experiences and phenomena.” (27)

However, the spirits do not gain a foothold by advertising the costs, one of which is suicide. According to Ankerberg and Weldon, there have been,

  • “…innumerable cases where the ‘loving’ spirits have deliberately induced emotional dependence upon their advice and then at a moment of weakness encouraged their contact to commit suicide. And this has been occurring for decades, probably even centuries. In the 1920 text The Menace of Spiritualism, case after case of tragedy is listed.” (37)

The authors have compiled their own list of horrors that have stalked mediums:

  • “Arthur Ford became a morphine addict and alcoholic…Bishop Pike died a tragic death…The biography on [Edgar] Cayce by Joseph Millar reveals the extent of suffering Cayce’s occultic involvement cost him—from psychic attacks to mysterious fires…Many channelers seem to succumb to various vices later in life.” (39)

Although they describe the medium M. Lamar Keene as “fraudulent,” from his book, The Psychic Mafia, they cite:

  • “All the mediums I’ve known or known about have had tragic endings. The Fox sisters, who started it all, wound up as alcoholic derelicts. William Slade…died insane in a Michigan sanitarium. Margery, the medium, lay on her deathbed a hopeless drunk….Wherever I looked it was the same: mediums, at the end of their tawdry life, dying a tawdry death.” (39-40)

Violence was another price to be paid:

  • “Spiritist and guru Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual advisor at the United Nations observes, ‘Many, many black magicians and people who deal with spirits have been strangled or killed. I know because I’ve been near quite a few of these cases.’” (40)

  • “Dr. Kurt Koch observed after 45 years of counseling the occultly oppressed that from his own experience ‘numerous cases of suicide, fatal accidents, strokes and insanity are to be observed among occult practitioners…Anyone who has had to observe for 45 years the effects of spiritism can only warn people with all the strength at his disposal.” (40)

These observations parallel our more global observations regarding the fate of spiritistic cultures. In Whence the “Noble Savage,” Patrick Frank, summarized the research regarding analysis of ancient burial sites of spiritistic cultures. The findings, for instance, demonstrate that the violent death rates of British Columbian Native Americans (27-33%) far exceeded even the violent death rate of 20th century Europe and the US (1%). Frank also adds:

  • “The Southwest is dotted with finds of people killed en masse…These indications of war, violent deaths, mutilations and cannibalism are from tribal societies that experienced no European or modern contact, thus contradicting the idea that peoples who were free from European influence lived relatively peaceful lives.” (Skeptic Mag. Vol 9, #1,2001, 54-60)

Spiritistic societies build no hospitals, establish no universities, and build no enduring institutions. Instead, according to their own reports, they have been spirit-ravaged. Ankerberg and Weldon have listed several books by spiritists who have found refuge in Christ:

  1. Victor Ernest, I talked with Spirits
  2. Ben Alexander, Out from Darkness
  3. Raphel Gasson, The Challenging Counterfeit

They conclude, “What is amazing is that the evidence is there for all to see and yet it is ignored.” (38) This may be “amazing,” but it’s also frustratingly true!