Beliefs and Questions About the Paranormal

Heaven

While people of different beliefs from all over the world believe in an afterlife, many of them can’t seem to agree with each other or accept views other than their own. Yet, men have talked about the supernatural since the beginning of time. Recently, authors like Bill Guggenheim, Dr. Raymond Moody, and Dr. Eben Alexander have written books that explore the existence of the consciousness after death.

When science cannot easily explain how things happen, such as paranormal activity, people question whether the phenomenon is true. As in religion and politics, many attribute different meanings to the words and then argue about who is right. Do angels exist? Do they differ from spirit guides? If everything is energy, where do people go when they die? If the Wise Men followed the star in the East, did they use astrology?

Christians believe in life after death. So do metaphysicians, and Muslims. Why, then, is there so much controversy and skepticism of other people’s views? If there is an afterlife, should we doubt near death experiences? For some, the question becomes one of whose experience is authentic. Is it the person with whom they agree? In the Western world, for instance, many doctors give little credence to alternative medicine. But what about the similarities between descriptions of the nervous system and the chakras or the meridians? All of these methods deal with physical anatomy and the vital life energy that stems from the brain, spinal cord, and organs.

Hello From Heaven CoverAnother example is the similarity between the halos seen on early paintings of religious figures and the concept of angels having wings or humans having auras. People sometimes say they have “bad feelings” about emotions or events, and spiritual healers say that “blocked energy” causes disease. Do both of these mean the same thing?

In Hello from Heaven, authors Bill and Judy Guggenheim discuss their research on ADCs, forms after death communication that occur spontaneously, without the help of mediums or other forms of assistance. After interviewing over 3,000 people about their firsthand experiences, the Guggenheims estimated that somewhere between 50 and 100 million people had experienced episodes they interpreted as being messages from loved ones.

000b7230.jpegIn the 1970s, Dr. Raymond Moody brought the phenomenon of near death experiences, or NDEs, to the national awareness with his first book, Life after Life. After four decades or study, Dr. Moody still says that, based on what his patients have told him, he has no doubt the people he has interviewed have experienced a glimpse of the afterlife.

Late last year, the concept of the NDE gained greater exposure with the publication of Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven. A skeptical neurosurgeon who contracted a deadly form of meningitis before slipping into a coma, Dr. Alexander wrote about his brief look at the near death experience.  As in all accounts of the supernatural, however, skeptics challenged Dr. Alexander’s claims.

Proof of Heaven CoverWhile no one knows for certain the answer to any of these questions, well-respected writers and philosophers have spoken of life after death for centuries. Edgar Cayce, an early 20th century Sunday School teacher known as the Sleeping Prophet, not only believed that people communicate with the astral realm, but he also believed in reincarnation. Emanuel Swedenborg, eighteenth century Swedish theologian, philosopher, and scientific investigator, spent much of his life attempting to explain the supernatural and heavily influenced the work of writers like William Blake and Henry James, as well as mystics like Raymond Moody and Edgar Cayce.

In 1890, the Swedenborg Society summed up their mentor’s teachings in the following statement:

“There are two worlds, a spiritual world where angels
and spirits are, and a natural world where men are.”

Although all of these stories of the supernatural have common threads, they also vary in details. Nevertheless, one common truth lies at the heart of all of these great teachings, from Buddha and Jesus to Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. Living beings are all part of one great force, and love is the glue that holds them together.

Reference:

Mobbs D, & Watt C (2011). There is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences: how neuroscience can explain seeing bright lights, meeting the dead, or being convinced you are one of them. Trends in cognitive sciences, 15 (10), 447-9 PMID: 21852181

Feinsod M, & Langer KG (2012). The philosopher’s swoon–the concussion of Michel de Montaigne: a historical vignette. World neurosurgery, 78 (3-4), 371-4 PMID: 22381306

ResearchBlogging.org

  • http://twitter.com/jason_d_carr/status/295853052664098817/ Jason Carr (@jason_d_carr)

    Beliefs and Questions About the Paranormal http://t.co/HUACShoX

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    • Jamie

      Paranormal is not exactly what comes to mind when i think of my after life. Being raised a Christian i am a strong believer in life after death but to me paranormal is something that was never living to begin with. I do not believe you can assocciate the livng with the nonliving. Psychology proves that human can in fact detect feelings from others as well as feel presence of another being, but to believe you are sensing a paranormal figure is psycotic. Humans have a hard enough time communicating correctly with eachother why would comunicating with something nonliving be easier?

      • Jason Carr

        Thanks for the input Jamie! “Paranormal” typically has to do with that which is beyond the realm of scientific understanding (afterlife would fall under this classification). That’s the context that I meant for this article. Thanks for reading Jamie!

  • http://www.landmaninsider.com Randy Young

    Jason, I was so looking forward to hearing your personal thoughts on the matter? I’d love for there to be an afterlife, but I am leaning towards a belief that when we die we die. Although I do appreciate the “tree of life” philosophy that our soul is like all the leaves on a tree. When we die the leaves fall off and are mixed with everyone elses leaves, then new souls are created from those leaves. So you could be a part of many people, which is a neat way of explaining deja-vu.

    • Jason Carr

      Thanks Randy. My thoughts on this at this moment are that I just don’t know. From a scientific point-of-view, it’s not something that can be proven. So it comes down to personal belief/faith. This is a subject that I’m completely conflicted over. I’m actually doing a great deal of research in this area and am sure my views will evolve over the next few years. I do like your point of view and appreciate you for sharing on here. I’m quite certain I’ll be writing more about this as I learn more in the months/years ahead. I’m not sure if you read this post below but one big question I have relates to the question of whether consciousness may have come before matter. Of course my biggest issue with this is there’s no way to prove/test but it is something I find myself thinking about frequently these days for some reason. I’m also highly interested in all of this because I want to know if intelligent machines could ever actually become self-aware if technological advancement reaches an apex. As with the post above, I have more questions than answers on this subject as well…very frustrating.

      http://wiredcosmos.com/2013/01/09/mind-over-evolution-an-alternative-vision-of-humanity/

  • emi

    I believe in the afterlife yes and all thats paranormal. Some believe its very spiritual and others its strictly a religous thing. No one really knows what its like until they experience a NDE of there own. Alot of paranormal beliefs and such are psychological I believe. It could be a figment of the imagination or some say could be the good lord helping a lost loved one call out.

    • Jason Carr

      Thanks for reading and the input Emi. I think many, many people share your views.

  • Spriser

    This is a very interesting topic for me. I for one, never really thought I would “believe” in paranormal experience growing up. It wasnt until, I was an adult that my opinions changed. Yes, its a very sensitive subject. I agree, it is right up with with politics and religion. I myself, have relocated to three different places in my adult life. All three households have had the same “paranormal” activity. Some, have believed I was crazy. Until they spent time in my home. Is it a past life? Could it be my father that died many years ago, that still has unresolved issues? I have no clue. At first, only my daughter and I had experienced it. Its never been “mean”. Startling? Yes! Is it as simple as a glimpse of light? It has been. My mom questioned my sanity until Thanksgiving day. She literally watched the door knob turn and the door open in the room we were in. I jokingly said “well, come on in.” She on the other hand, became unsettled within that moment. Doors are always unlocked, picture frames (stable) will fall out of no where. We’ve experienced “floating objects.” I sound insane, writing this. When you walk through the home, especially late at night, you feel a presence behind you. You have the cold chills that run from your toes to your head. I’ve thought about having it looked into. I was told, they typically do not follow you, unless they are attached to something/someone. I was also told, bringing in someone to research could make it angry. Thus deciding to leave it alone. I like to believe as Emi said above, “it could be a loved one calling out.” I think, that thought alone makes the idea of it being possible a little easier to “understand, or cope with.”

    • Jason Carr

      Wow that is amazing! I agree completely…sensitive subject for sure. Stories like yours are fascinating to me nonetheless. I can imagine how others might react when you tell your story but isn’t it interesting how they change their opinion when they witness it as your mom did? Thanks so much for sharing your story here Spriser.

  • http://jameswharris.wordpress.com jameswharris

    You should also list the books that evaluate and counter the books about near death experiences. There’s lot of real research into the subject.

    But I believe there is plenty of just plain old logic that shoots down the idea of life after death. Drugs, disease, trauma, stress, lack of sleep, all can alter our personalities. All affect the brain. How can we exist without our brains? And there are drugs, disease, trauma, and stress that can cause OOB and NDEs. We can induce any of these experiences people are using as proof of life after death as hallucinations.

    By the way Jason, your posts stopped coming to my email. Have you changed something on your site? I like the new look.

    • Jason Carr

      Thanks for the heads up about the notifications. I think I found the issue so you should start receiving them again soon. Agreed regarding research….the two research articles at the bottom of the post are definitely against the idea of NDE. This is a new area to me so I’m certain I’ll be posting additional viewpoints as I learn more. Have a great week Jim!

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  • TMoore

    I truely enjoy the subject of the paranormal. I have had experiences since I was a child. My first experience was when I was 3 years old. I went to my grandfathers wake and after we returned home my mother had placed me sitting on the kitchen table facing towards the hallway. I kept staring down the hallway and my mother had asked me approximately 3 times what I was looking at. By the 3rd time I told her that I seen my grandfather (who we just came from his wake). As I have grown in my years I have been told stories from my mother that she herself has had similar experiences of her own. So I wonder if this would pertain to the psychodynamic perspective, as well as how this all comes about for our personal experiences. Does it run in families for this phenomenon to happen or is it just by luck??

    • Jason Carr

      Thanks for sharing your story! Have you continued to experience these types of things as you’ve gotten older? It’s interesting that you have such a vivid recollection from such a young age as well…fascinating. Great question regarding families. From everything I’ve read, it seems that this is the case but I’ll admit this is a very new subject to me and I have much left to learn. I haven’t seen a study in this area however so I’m not sure. If anyone else has insight into this, please feel free to jump in. Thanks for reading Wired Cosmos!

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