Science and the Supernatural<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Carl Teichrib (http://www.forcingchange.org)
"In the past few centuries, science has made us aware that the universe is stranger and more interesting than our ancestors realized. It is an amusing thought that it may turn out stranger and more interesting than even the scientists are willing to admit." Colin Wilson, The Occult: A History, p. 33.
My family and I live in a very rural part of the Canadian prairies. Going shopping at a mall or big box-store is, literally, an all-day affair. Simply put, just driving to a community that's large enough to have such shopping facilities can take longer than the actually time spent shopping. Trips to the doctor, theater, or library requires a concerted effort; when a roundtrip to the nearest volunteer-run theater takes the better part of 100 miles, you question whether the movie is really worth seeing!
But there are perks living this far out in the boonies. On any given night, we can walk outside and see the Milky Way in exquisite detail, with stars touching each horizon, all viewed without the aid of a telescope or a set of binoculars. Spectacular Northern Light shows, which set the sky on fire, are enjoyed to the fullest. As are the thundering wings of thousands of migrating geese, swans, cranes, and ducks each spring and fall.
We've seen the sun and moon play tricks in the ice-filled winter air: sun and moon-dogs, "glories," unusual halos, and other surreal light phenomenon. We've also witnessed a multitude of other interesting natural phenomena: bead lightening, sky bands and light arches, funky mirages, giant whirlwinds, multiple tornadoes (that was wild!), and thousands of perfectly formed mini snowballs falling from the sky in the middle of a sweltering August afternoon. Over the years my family and I have witnessed a plethora of beautiful and unusual natural wonders.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Colin Wilson was right: the universe is a strange and interesting place. Moreover, our immediate world and the greater universe is still a place where human science can be utterly confounded.
Science, in its pure form, is chiefly concerned with what is observable, testable, and repeatable. It is restricted in that sense to the physical study of physical matter. But "pure science," both in the past and present, has often had its fingers in another pie: metaphysics, the philosophical inquiry into the basis of reality i.e., religion (it could be argued that all science has some metaphysical foundation, however, many secular humanist say that "pure science" operates independent of metaphysics; a debate that this article cannot rightly explore). What's more, science has become increasingly interested in exploring the possibilities of tapping into the supernatural.
Take for instance a published report by Eric Davis of Warp Drive Metrics. This report, titled Teleportation Physics Study, was produced and paid for by the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base (contract number F04611-99-C-0025, public release date August 2004).
Technical in its nature, the report delves into aspects of quantum physics and its relationship to space and time, something that I find fascinating, even if I'm often lost by the complex terminology. The report also details another "science" one that crosses over, into, and beyond the study of quantum physics; psychokinesis (the movement of objects though psychic channels).
Outlining this strange occurrence, Davis explained that Uri Geller, a well-known psychic, was able to bend a spoon without physically touching it during a talk he gave at the US Capital building. Furthermore, Davis elaborated on the deep interest that the US military/scientific and intelligence community has had, and continues to have, in the field of occult sciences particularly remote viewing.
Remote viewing, which includes and combines elements of clairvoyance (seeing things in the future) and out-of-body experiences, has been especially intriguing to the intelligence community. For decades, a multitude of governmental agencies and corporate laboratories have been involved in remote viewing programs. Davis, laying out the historical context for military-scientific study within this field, explained the following,
"The reader should note that the very first U.S. military-intelligence R&D programs on psi, PK and mind control were conducted by H.K. (Andrija) Puharich, M.D., L.L.D during his military service at the Army Chemical and Biological Warfare Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland in the 1940s-50s. Puharich had an interest in clairvoyance and PK, and dabbled in theories for electronically and pharmaceutically enhancing and synthesizing psychic abilities. While in the Army, Puharich took part in a variety of parapsychology experiments, and he lectured Army, Air Force and Navy groups on possibilities for mind warfare. He was a recognized expert in hypnotism and microelectronics." (Teleportation Physics Study, p. 55)
This is an amazing admittance. Already in the mid-point of the last century, the defense and intelligence community was involved in psychic and occult exploration, including clairvoyance and had coupled this theoretical research with mind-bending drugs and electronic stimuli.
In the year 2000, W. Adam Mandelbaum, a former intelligence officer and practicing psychic, laid out a frightening futuristic scenario in his controversial book The Psychic Battlefield: A History of the Military-Occult Complex (St. Martin's Press, 2000).
"Besides an end to privacy and manipulation of financial markets, a cadre of highly developed psychic warriors might start to think of themselves as a new Master Race. We have seen, in Eastern Bloc Olympic training, the widespread use of suggestion, imagery, and mental rehearsal to enhance sports performance. We will probably see this trend continue in the military of the third millennium to create Super Soldiers The conscious creation of a superior military force will result in those participants becoming consciously aware of their superiority. Add ego to weapons access, mix with superior psychic spying skills, and Voila! we have a new SS that makes Himmler's boys look like the Cub Scouts." (The Psychic Battlefield, p. 235).
But the military and defense communities, including that of Russia and China, are not the only areas where science and the supernatural have combined. Psychic activity has also been used in the fields of archeology and criminology. Of these two, the use of psychics in criminology is probably the most widely known, fueled in large part by various television programs and publications that have highlighted the apparent successes and failures of criminal-clairvoyant investigations.
The use of occult powers in the field of archeology, however, is relatively unknown. Hans Holzer, one of the most prolific writers on parapsychology and spiritualism, detailed a number of psychic archeological experiments in his book Window to the Past. Through the use of mediums and the employment of such practices as telepathy, individuals were able to pinpoint archeological sites and document important historical events. Holzer, elaborating on the pseudo-science of psychic archeology, explained that,
"The expressions of mediums, no matter how genuine and detailed, nevertheless do not represent scientific fact in the accepted sense, but they can lead to investigations in areas where scientists might not have looked. If such follow-ups are undertaken free from all prejudice and preconceived notions, psychic clues can be among the most valuable tools of historical research." (Window to the Past, p. 94)
Reincarnation, psychic healing, the development of super-consciousness, exceptional precognition, out-of-body experiences, remote viewing, and a host of other topics which dance along the razor's edge of supernaturalism and occultism have all been topics of scientific thought and study.
Furthermore, scientific inquiry into psychic phenomena is often rooted in basic scientific orthodoxy, taking on aspects of repeatability, testability, and observation. However, this doesn't negate its supernatural side, nor does it elevate psychic research into the echelons of hard science. But being testable, observable, and repeatable does give verification that psychic activity exists. To the skeptical "scientific mind," however, the notion that this pseudo-science trespasses into the foggy world of occultism or supernaturalism is rarely accepted as a serious option.
But theology and human history says otherwise. From an historical and contemporary context, mankind has embraced occultism in an attempt to harness and utilize supernatural powers for individual gain sometimes setting in motion forces that have destroyed both body and mind in the process. Worse still, history is rife with civilizations that have followed occult-based ideologies and philosophies, with death and destruction in close pursuit (Nazi Germany comes to mind; see The Occult Roots of Nazism by Goodrick-Clarke, and the 4-part video series The Occult History of the Third Reich).
Not ironically, noted occultist and "mother" of the New Age, Helena P. Blavatsky, warned against the dangers of supernatural/occult powers as a military/criminal device. The following was originally published in Lucifer magazine, 1891, and was re-published in a collection of Blavatsky's writings titled Studies in Occultism.
" if purely material implements are capable of blowing up, from a few corners, the great cities of the globe, providing the murderous weapons are guided by expert hands what terrible dangers might not arise from magical occult secrets being revealed, and allowed to fall into the possession of ill-meaning people! A thousand times more dangerous and lethal are these, because neither the criminal hand, nor the immaterial invisible weapon used, can ever be detected." (Studies in Occultism, pp.28-29).
Blavatsky then suggests that the occultist must "live the life" in order to properly handle the potency of supernatural powers. This is a twisted position, for the practitioner is obviously dealing with forces that go beyond the human capacity to understand or control. In other words, the individual is not "playing with the occult," rather the supernatural is toying with the practitioner. This is evidenced through personal lives impacted by supernatural bondage, including insanity (see Tal Brooke, Riders of the Cosmic Circuit, 1986, and Elissa Lindsey McClain, Rest from the Quest, 1984).
At the societal level, occultism can add upon an underlying destructive worldview or become the foundation for a culture of terror. The German Nazi movement blended myth and occultism, pseudoscience and technology. And it's no surprise to learn that it's pan-pagan roots were firmly planted in the soil of Blavatsky's teachings. Christopher Hale, in his book Himmler's Crusades, sums it up; "Myth is never harmless." (Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, Castle Books, 2006).
The Bible itself warns against the pursuit of supernatural manipulation. Consider the words of Deuteronomy 18,
"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord " (Deuteronomy 18:10-12a).
Yes, the physical world is a marvelous wonder, filled with many transfixing and puzzling surprises. It still baffles man by its beauty and complexity. So too the non-physical universe, including mental and spiritual components, is a place of fascination. However, when dabbling and dealing with the supernatural and the mind sciences that sometimes attempt to explain or exploit it-a mental, emotional, and spiritual minefield is encountered. And just as wandering into a physical minefield will destroy the body, so too will a spiritual minefield destroy the soul.
Carl Teichrib is editor of Forcing Change, a monthly online publication detailing the changes and challenges impacting the Western world.
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